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4. Trap Return

After you loan out your traps, all you have left to do is check them back in when borrowers return them. Review this checklist to make sure everything is squared away:

  • Confirm the trap identification numbers with your equipment tracking master list to make sure you’ve received all the traps you lent.
  • Mark that the trap has been returned with the date of return on the correct trap loan form. This will help you keep track of the trap’s last loan in case you can’t find it.
  • Test the trap to make sure it still works properly. If the trap is in good condition and no parts are missing, return the deposit check to the borrower.

Repairing Traps

It’s critical that the traps that you are loaning out are in good shape. Defective traps can be ineffective, which can reduce success rates and negatively affect TNR efforts, and can even be unsafe for cats.

The best way to make sure your traps are working properly is to test them before and after using them, as well as before and after loaning them out. Make sure that the trip plate still works to shut the trap’s front door.

If one of your traps is damaged and can no longer be used for trapping, you may still be able to use it for “baiting.” You can permanently remove the back door and use the trap to feed cats so that they become comfortable with the traps. This will only work if the traps can be in a location where they can be in place around the clock.

If you need information on how to fix a broken trap or need a replacement part, contact the trap’s manufacturer.

“Our traps are dependable, rugged, and maintenance-free,” says Greg Smith, owner of Tomahawk Live Trap Company. “But just in case you need replacement parts such as a lost rear door, they are now available with free shipping from our website at”

If a trap is returned damaged, you may consider cashing the person’s deposit check to cover your purchase of a replacement trap. Central Oklahoma Humane Society says that when a trap is returned so badly damaged that it must be replaced, they deposit the check for that trap the same business day that the trap is returned.

Cleaning Traps

After testing the traps, make sure they’re clean. Different groups use different methods of cleaning traps. One method is to first wash the traps with warm, soapy water, and then then spray them with a mild, diluted bleach solution (about 10% bleach and 90% water) and rinse them very thoroughly with warm water to remove all bleach residue.

Some trap depots use pressure washers to clean their traps.

TIP: The Nobody’s Cats Foundation in Pennsylvania uses a do-it-yourself car wash when cleaning a large number of traps. They also require trap borrowers to clean traps themselves before returning them.


Two Left Paws Animal Sanctuary's storage area for traps and shelters.

After testing the traps, make sure they are clean and disinfected. Then, it’s time to store them. You may have a large closet where they can be stored, or you may store them in a garage, shed, warehouse, basement, or other storage unit.

TIP: “I would advise that a trap depot, in order to keep from losing a large number of traps, keep traps in a secure location with a limited number of staff having access and that paperwork is kept up-to-date,” says Audrey Garrison, president of Gulf Shore Animal League in Manatee County.

After cleaning and storing your traps, there’s nothing left to do until next time!