Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Feral Q&A: Gotta catch 'em all

Q: I have successfully had every member of the colony spayed or neutered…except one. I am having a lot of trouble trapping the very last cat.  Do you have any tips?

A: Some cats can take up to a year to humanely trap. But, all is not lost!

For two weeks prior to the date you want to begin trapping, set out the trap and wire the door so it can’t shut. Place food in front of the trap’s opening. Over time, move the food deeper into the trap until she’s entering and exiting the trap to eat. On the day you plan to begin to trap, withhold food long enough to ensure she’s good and hungry. Remove the wires and when she walks in to eat, the door will close. During this process, consider using a bike lock to secure your trap to something stationary so the trap can’t be stolen.

As for the food, the smellier the better! Many trappers have found success with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Remove the coating and skin and pull the chicken from the bones. Remember that cooked bones are extremely dangerous to both dogs and cats. They can splinter when eaten and can cause animals to choke or bleed internally when eaten. Other bait options include oil-packed sardines or tuna, Fancy Feast Fish and Shrimp flavor and catnip. 

Many trap-wise cats have learned to avoid setting off the pressure plate.  Consider camouflaging it by placing a small towel along the bottom of the trap and over the plate. This will also help to protect the cat once the trap door closes.

One innovative trapper I know hangs pieces of chicken from the top of the trap in the back, forcing the cats to look up (and step on the pressure plate) as they move toward the back. How ingenious is that!

Some careful trappers are able to catch mother cats with the aid of her kittens. They watch while the kittens sleep in a carrier that is attached to the back of the trap with bungee cords. They cover both the trap and the carrier so that the mother believes she can only get to her kittens through the opening of the trap.

When trapping a mother cat with her kittens, have multiple traps set side by side as kittens tend to follow their mother and are likely to enter a trap next to one that their mother enters.

You can trap more than one cat at a time with drop traps and trap-wise cats often don’t recognize them as traps. A very cool web site to visit is  It’ll answer all of your questions about drop traps and give you some pretty neat videos of drop traps in action.

But please, never leave your traps unattended. My fellow felines will be at the mercy of anyone that may find them.  Well, I wish you all the best of luck!

Do you have a question about feral cats in your neighborhood? Send your question to

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