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Having the right equipment is key to a successful Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) effort. A humane box trap or drop trap will ensure the safety of the cats from the time you trap the cats to when you release them after recovery. We don’t recommend “clam” traps, which close horizontally because they can injure cats. Use these tips for safe and effective trapping.
- Make sure you have enough traps for the entire colony, or if not, trap the cats in shifts.
- Try borrowing traps in your area from local Feral Friends or an animal shelter. Don’t borrow traps from a shelter if they make you return the cat along with the trap.
- Research the correct trap size. Most standard size traps for cats are called “cat” size, but tomcats may require the larger “raccoon” size.
- Always put kitten safety first by making sure you have appropriately sized traps just for kittens. You should have one trap per kitten so they are less likely to follow each other into a single trap.
A good trapping kit should include the following items:
- Bait for traps
- Plastic spoons or forks for scooping the bait into the traps
- Newspaper to line the traps
- Trap covers: large towels, blankets, or sheets that will completely cover the trap after the cat is caught
- Tag Traps (include date, cat description, and trapping location)
- Thick gloves
- Antibacterial hand wipes or gel
- Tools such as pliers and WD-40 for traps that aren’t working properly
- Paper towels for cleaning your hands or wiping up any messes
- Bungee cords or rope for securing traps in the car so they don’t slide around
- Feral Cat Colony Tracking System. See our recordkeeping tips for more info.
- Cardboard, large plastic trash bags, puppy pads, a tarp, or towels to line the inside of your vehicle, in case there are accidents
- Alley Cat Allies brochures to give people who ask you what you’re doing
- Patience. Trapping can be time-consuming and stressful. Stay calm, follow your plan, and you will be successful!
Types of Traps
There are trap designs for every situation:
- Box trap: A standard trap for cats. In addition to the entry door, a box trap should also include a back door that shuts vertically.
- Drop trap: Drop traps are great for trap-savvy cats because they are typically larger in size and do not force the cat into a confined space. Additionally, you control when to trigger the trap. All drop traps allow easy transfer from the drop trap to a box trap. These are a last resort, because they often need to be built and require extra work during trapping.
- Kitten trap: It’s a good idea to have a couple of these around in case you see kittens. Small kittens are often too light to trip the plate in full-sized traps. A larger trap’s size and power can also be dangerous for a kitten.
- Transfer cage: Once you’ve trapped a cat, leave her there. If you must put her in a different cage, such as a holding cage, use a transfer cage with a matching vertical door and do the transfer in a closed room.
- Isolator (catacomb or trap divider): This looks like a large pick or comb. The isolator is inserted into the top of the trap to force a timid cat into a small portion of the cage for anesthesia.
- Feral Cat Den: If you must hold a cat for several days, a den provides a quiet hiding place. Place the den in a larger holding pen or cage, along with a litter box, food, and water.