How Do Cat Traps Work?

Feral cats are trapped so they can be neutered.
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If you care for feral cats, you probably know that humane organizations recommend you follow a trap-neuter-return program to manage the colony. Otherwise, the population will grow, which often leads to communities killing the cats. The first thing to know about TNR is how the traps work.

Why Trap

Cat traps are a humane solution used to capture feral cats. After the cat is trapped, you can safely transport him to a veterinarian who will neuter and vaccinate the cat. While the cat is under anesthesia, the vet cuts the tip off the left ear so you or other volunteers will know not to re-trap that cat after he has been returned to the colony. Although cat traps are a humane method of helping control a feral cat population, they cause stress for a cat, so you wouldn’t want to trap him a second time unnecessarily.

Typical Trap

A typical cat trap is a cage shaped like a rectangle with a door. A cat enters the trap and walks to the back of it to get the bait you put there. The trap is equipped with a trip plate. If you place the bait behind the trip plate, the cat should walk over the trip plate to get the bait. This causes the door to close, which traps the cat.

Bait the Trap

Choose a nice day when the weather is dry so you can be comfortable as you wait and watch the trap. Withhold food for 36 hours before the day you attempt to trap. This step is probably the most important one. Cats will be hesitant to walk into the confined space of the trap, but if they are hungry enough, they are more likely to go in. Bait the trap with something irresistible to a cat, and something with a strong aroma, such as sardines, mackerel or salmon. After the cat is in the trap, you should go over to the trap and put a towel or sheet over it to calm him. Then you can take the cat to the vet.

Trap Dividers

A trap divider is a useful accessory for a cat trap. The divider resembles a pitchfork. It slides through the trap so you can divide the trap in two. This is useful when you need to open the trap to feed and give water to the cat. Put the cat on one end and open the door on the other end. Once you have placed the food and water down, remove the divider.

Trap Tips

Practice using the trap before you set it for a cat. Set the trigger and press down on the trip plate with your finger. Stick your finger through the side of the trap to do this. The door should immediately close and lock. When you place the trap out for the cat, it’s better to put it beside something, such as a fence, rock, tree, wall or bush, instead of just plopping it out in the open. You want the trap to fit in with the environment as much as possible so it appears less threatening.

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