When trapping a feral fails, what do you do?

Trapping feral cats has its challenges. (Photo courtesy Friends of Feral Felines)

You’ve done everything that’s recommended to help you trap the feral cat, and you’ve failed. What do you do now?

Here are a few scenarios of what could happen to make your trapping experience a success rather than a woeful failure.

  •  The trap is out. The smelly cat food is in the trap. You’ve covered it with a blanket to make it seem a natural hiding spot.  But the cat doesn’t come. Or the cat comes, and the trap is so sensitive it shuts tight. The cat has been spooked and is now scared of this wired box.
  •  You’ve left the garage door open with the car partially parked inside. Now, you’ve moved the car outside. The cat is skeptical, something’s change.
  • It’s cold and the cat is looking for various options to keep warm. Kitty might have found a better hand-out for a few days.
  •  The neighbors have been feeding kitty, and well, you’re food, out for a few days, just isn’t that appealing.

Cats are smart, cagey and very astute. They have a way of knowing when something isn’t just right. And a trap is not right in their book.

Here are some suggestions given by members of Friends of Feral Felines in Maine to some volunteers having a hard time trapping a feisty little fellow. His owner took a liking to this stray, left behind when the neighbors left, and wants to give him a better life.

  • If the trap is sensitive, tie up the ends of the trap with both ends open so kitty can go in and have a snack. Once the cat is used to the trap, he’s not so likely to be afraid of it. Take the ropes off a day or two before the spay/neuter appointment.
  •  Put out real smelly tuna fish or sardines, something that Kitty will find irresistible.
  • Consider setting the trap a day early. Even though kitty won’t be happy, you’ll have achieved your mission of trapping him so you can get him to his spay/neuter appointment. Once caught, cover the trap with a blanket to cut down on outside visuals. He’ll be less scared.
  •  If it’s cold, make sure there’s some hay in the trap. Blankets do not absorb moisture, and do not provide adequate protection from the harsh elements.
  • Make sure the trap has been set in a place that outside of the rain, snow, or in direct sunlight. Extreme heat can be as bad for Kitty as extreme cold. Dehydration and overheating can be as devastating as frostbite and freezing.
  •  And of course, check the traps twice a day so you know when Kitty has been trapped and make your plans accordingly.

If this doesn’t work, keep trying and ask for further advice from the feral organization in your area. Just because you have an appointment doesn’t mean the cat will adhere to your schedule.

Think about how hard it is to trap a woodchuck or other creatures tormenting your garden. They too know something is a bit amiss, and go full berm away from the traps. Why should we think feral cats will be any different?

If you have some pointers on how to safely trap feral cats when you’ve followed all the boilerplate suggestions, please share them and let us know what has worked for you.

2 responses to “When trapping a feral fails, what do you do?”

  1. bjbangs Avatar

    They indeed have a mind of their own. Very independent minded, if I must say so.

  2. Louise Behiel Avatar
    Louise Behiel

    great series BJ. I had no idea it was so complicated to capture and deal with feral cats.

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