Considerations for trapping feral cats on your own
By Claude West (The Cat Man)
These are the highlights for considerations trapping feral cats:
- Take the time to feed the cat(s) on a regular basis. This develops trust or a relationship with the cat. Doing this will help later in the TNR process.
- Inquire if a TNR group is interested in performing the service on your behalf. This will save you time and money. Usually a donation for the service is appropriate ranging from $50 to $100 dollars. That is inexpensive compared to doing the TNR yourself.
- If you plan to do the TNR yourself then the next step is to locate several veterinary services that will do feral cats. The ASPCA may have a local branch. Reason I say find more than one service is some locations will only perform surgery on certain days of the week. You do not want to hold the cat in a trap for more than a day or less. You may or may not catch that cat on first attempt so I had several appointments scheduled. Doing this as a backup in case I failed to catch the cat on the first try.
Considerations trapping feral cats continued:
- Traps themselves are not the same. There was a huge issue on my first attempt to trap the cat. I went to the local equipment rental shop and rented a “cat trap.” Twice the cat went into the trap, consumed all of the food, and never triggered the trap. I went back to the equipment shop and they inspected the trap. In testing the trap, we noticed several problems with the trap. So we tested another “cat trap” and its trigger was much more sensitive. Moral of the story is test the trap at the shop with a pencil. You should be able to activate the trap with little to no pressure on the trigger.
- Leave the cat in the trap because this is the only way the veterinary services will accept the cat. Feral cats are quite viscous outside the trap or in a carrier. Traps allow the vet to sedate the cat easily and that is the reason.
Very important considerations trapping feral cats
- Plan the release well in advance of trapping the cat. This is a huge issue since you cannot leave the cat in the trap for more than a day and most services require you monitor the cat’s health for 48 hours after surgery. You will need a large cage or carrier that is big enough to place a litter box, food and water as well as towels or bedding for the cat. Some TNR groups release cats 8 to 10 hours after surgery but the ASPCA or most veterinarians do not recommend this.
- Be prepared to have to return the cat to the veterinarian should complication arise. This is a sticky situation since the cat is now in a cage or carrier and vets want it in a trap. Do not hesitate to take the cat to the vet regardless of what it is in because the animal will be too sick to put up much of a fight and most vets understand that.
- Release the cat after 48 hours in the same area trapped. Just open the door and walk away. The cat may take several minutes to orientate itself before leaving the cage or carrier. Now here is some tuff decision making because most TNR groups want you to continue feeding the animal for its lifetime. This may or may not be an option you want but is something to consider in this whole process.
Additional considerations trapping feral cats:
Furthermore, dumping the cat where other feral cats are is not good idea since cats are territorial and may not accept the new cat into the group. They will actually force the cat to leave the area. A great option is to find a rancher or farmer who could use a barn cat. This would provide shelter and food for the cat. Another option is for you to adopt the cat. Strays domesticate easily but feral cats are more difficult to build the trust and relationship. Patience and perseverance is the key to success.
This video was taken the day after trapping and discusses some of the problems with trapping.
Reprint requirements: Article reprinted in its entirety without alterations. Author and source required with the article.