- Clean trap
- Bait: Can of tuna or mackerel, turkey or chicken
- Newspaper or cardboard
- Clean bath or beach towel or sheet/blanket to cover cage (one for each)
- Flashlight (if trapping after dark)
- Fold several sheets of newspaper lengthwise and place in trap, covering the trip (step) plate. You may also use cardboard (cut to size); however be careful that the cardboard does not exceed the length of the trap where the door comes down. It can prevent the door from securing properly.
- Place a small amount of bait in a container or small dessert plate at the end of the trap as far back as it will go (sliding door end of trap). Make sure sliding door end is latched and/or secured.
- Place trail of bait leading into trap (bite size pieces) from outside of door to middle of trap.
- Set trap door. Move away from the area.
As soon as the cat is trapped, cover trap with towel or sheet to calm the cat. Immediately remove the trapped cat from the area where it was caught. Carry the trap carefully to a holding area (like your car) if you are trapping more than one cat. When ready to transport cat, continue to keep the trap covered with a cloth.
In case the cat has an accident during transport, lay down a plastic liner with a layer of newspaper on top of that under the trap. It’s acceptable to place cat in the trunk of your car – it will get plenty of air – as long as you quickly transport the cat to Vet/shelter.
If transporting to the vet for spaying/neutering & re-releasing – instruct the Vet to tip the right ear. This is a universal code amongst rescue groups/Vets that the cat has been altered. It will also assist you in determining if you have caught the cat before – especially when working in a colony where the cats have the same colorings/markings. Remember to handle trapped cats carefully. These cats are frightened, so care should be taken that the animal remains calm and comfortable.
It is preferable not to trap a lactating female unless you know her kittens are eating and can be left on their own for two days. If you trap a lactating female for spaying, please inform the Vet. Keep in mind that a lactating (nursing) cat can be spayed and will continue to produce milk and nurse her kittens. The cat can be released the next day, kittens can survive overnight. Please spay female cats even if pregnant; there are too many homeless kittens already. How will you handle catching and socializing feral kittens? Often, young kittens succumb to illness and death in an outdoor environment. Kittens born in the wild were born to die; the survival rate is extremely low.
Important Rules That Must Be Followed
Never leave a set trap unattended. Monitor it at all times. If you must leave it overnight, drape with towel and check throughout night and again at dawn only if the area is safe and quiet. Trapped cats can fall prey to predators – of the human kind. If left unattended, an unknowing individual could release the cat not realizing your efforts or take the cat to harm it.
Never attempt to transfer a trapped cat into a carrier. The slightest opening can be an avenue of freedom for them. They are powerful and fast. Once a cat has been trapped, be assured it will rarely allow itself to be trapped again. Leave the cat in the trap; it’s no more comfortable in a carrier vs. a trap.
Always start off with clean equipment. All equipment should be disinfected and scrubbed down after each use with a mild bleach and soap solution. Cats depend on smell and if a cat has been in the trap and smells like it, the cat(s) will steer clear of it.
Always use clean towels, sheets or blankets to cover traps.
Always notch or tip the right ear (universal code that the cat has been altered).
Never attempt to touch or transfer the cat.
Spay/neutering for Ferals
We’ve listed veterinary hospitals offering low-cost spay/neuter. You may also check with your regular veterinarian to see if they will spay/neuter feral cats for a discount rate.
(Also visit our resources page for more info)
East Bay SPCA – Spay/Neuter Clinic
410 Hegenberger Rd.
Oakland: 510/ 639-7387 (PETS)
Fix Our Ferals
St. Louis Vet Clinic
3545 Fruitvale Avenue
Oakland: 510/ 530-1004
* Spay surgery may be slightly more expensive if the cat is in heat or pregnant.
Services to Request
- Spay or neuter, FVRCP and RABIES vaccinations
- Notch right ear (symbolizes a feral has already been altered surgically)
- Test for FeLV/FIV if you plan to socialize the kittens for adoption or if an adult feral cat looks ill. If the cat tests positive – discuss options with veterinarian. Always ask if the cat is female or male. If female, ask whether the cat is lactating. FIV isn’t a big deal and most cats do well with it. FeLV is more difficult.
- Even if you cannot afford testing or vaccinations, the most important priority is to spay/neuter the cat. DO IT!
After Care (Recovery)
After surgery, let the cat recuperate in the trap, cover with towel. Place the cats inside of a shed or garage and place the traps on top of newspaper spread out on the floor. Do not put the cat(s) outdoors for their recovery period. They must be kept indoors for their safety and health.
You can give them nourishment by carefully placing a can of wet cat food/mixed with some water at one end of the trap. Open the door ever so slightly – just enough to slide the can in carefully.
Release Schedule (if cat is healthy)
- Males: Release Next Day (24 hours after surgery)
- Females: Release After 2-3 Days – unless the cat was lactating. If lactating, release 24 hours after surgery.
If you are trapping ferals (wild cats) and cannot spay/neuter and return them to a safe environment whereby they have an established, daily feeding station – you might want to consider other options such as relocation to a safe/managed environment. CAUTION: See www.alleycat.org for specific guidelines/procedures to follow if you decide relocation is the best option. Relocation is generally the last resort!
Ferals depend on humans to be their voice and to watch over them. What is your commitment to feeding a cat (or cats) long-term? Think of their welfare when considering relocation options and available permanent food sources.