Community Cat Companions

How to Trap

How to Trap-Neuter-Return:

Set a feeding schedule.

If you are not already feeding the cats on a schedule, you should begin doing this one or two weeks before you plan to trap. Use this schedule when you are ready to begin trapping. Withhold food 12-24 hours before you set the traps.

Make veterinary appointments in advance.

You may need to schedule your appointment several weeks ahead of time. Make reservations with a veterinarian or clinic that has experience working with feral cats. They will need to know how many cats you intend to trap and will schedule an appointment/s based on this number. If they are experienced with T-N-R, they will understand that trapping can be unpredictable and the actual number of cats trapped will differ.

Prepare and set the traps.

Traps can be expensive to purchase but many organizations will let you borrow them. Check with the clinic that you are using to spay/neuter. Plan to pick them up several days before the scheduled trapping.  This will give you time to familiarize yourself with their function. Clinic personnel will demonstrate how to set the traps. It is a good idea to place the traps in the feeding area as soon as you get them. This will allow the cats to adjust to their presence. Disable the traps or remove the back door to allow cats to enter without being trapped. Place food bowls inside so that cats are unafraid to enter when the time comes.

On the day of trapping, prepare the traps away from the site or well ahead of the scheduled feeding time. Line the bottom of the traps with newspaper. Place a small amount of bait (tuna, sardines, mackerel) at the back of the trap, past the trip plate. Empty cat food cans work well for this purpose. Place a tiny amount at the entrance of the trap to attract them. The traps should be placed on a level surface (to prevent accidental tripping) and then set. Cover the traps with towels so that only the front remains uncovered. This calms the cat after it is trapped and prevents other cats from seeing inside. Stay out of sight, watching from a distance to prevent alerting the cats. Never leave the traps unattended.

Remove the traps and prepare to transport.

Once the trap is sprung, cover the entire trap with the towel. Leave the trap in place until you can safely remove it without alerting the other cats. Cats should be held in their traps in a safe, quiet location until you are ready to transport. Make sure that they have water and you may feed them depending on the timing of their surgery. They typically can have nothing after midnight the day before surgery. Be very careful not to let them out. Transport the cats in their traps to their appointment.

Care for the cats post-surgery.

The cats should remain in their traps or carriers after their surgery in a temperature-controlled, safe location while they recover  from anesthesia. Provide a small meal and water after they are awake. They can return to their normal feeding schedule the day following surgery. Cats can be returned 24 hours following surgery. It is recommended that females be held 7-10 days if possible to allow their incision to heal. Large dog crates that allow enough room for a litter box are effective if placed in a safe, protected area. Lactating females need to be returned once they are alert if the location of their kittens is unknown.

Return the cats.

Return the cats to the location where they were trapped. Uncover the traps and allow the cats to get their bearing before carefully opening the door to release them. It may take them a moment to realize that they can leave. It is not unusual for them to stay away from the feeding area for a few days. They will return eventually.

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