Many cat-lovers have dreamt of finding an abandoned kitty that they can nurse to health and keep as a pet. Though it is rare to come across a stray cat that is willing to be tamed, there are those who have succeeded at making a wild, resistant feline their devoted pet. But before the taming process can begin, one has to first capture the cat. Here are some helpful tips on how to trap a feral cat, should you ever have the opportunity
- Choosing a trap: Getting a cat trap is one of the best ways to capture a feral cat, and safely transport him to a vet to be neutered or spayed. You will have to work gradually since feral cats are smart creatures that have left humans baffled at how they can sneak food out of tricky traps without getting caught. Instead of setting a spring trap right away, the best method is to coax the cat to eating in the trap, and then catching him in it when he is comfortable in it. Choose whether you want to use a drop-door trap (which can be pulled shut when you loosen the rope holding the door open), or bait-trap which when set, will snap shut behind the cat when a trigger by the food is engaged. Decide which trap will work best for you, and go to work. (Note: these kind of traps can be purchased online, or in some cases rented from animal shelters, or feral cat rescue associations.)
- Disguise the trap: Cats are always looking for a safe place to hide, and will be less inclined to trust something that seems man-made. Cover the sides of the trap/crate with a dark towel, or even some wood, branches and leaves. This way, when the feline is drawn to eating the food inside the crate, it will feel like he is in a tunnel, rather than a plastic or metal cage. (Some trappers recommend leaving the back of the cage uncovered, so that the cat can see all the way through.)
- Train the cat: Next, allow time for the cat to become comfortable with eating and drinking water by the trap. Securely fasten the door of the trap open, and put the food dish just outside it. When the cat has been eating there for a few days, move the dish inside the trap. After a couple of days, move the dish closer and closer to the back of the trap. Then the day before you plan to catch the cat, do not put any food out – only allow a dish of water. That way, when the cat returns he will be more hungry than usual, and will be focused on getting to the food rather than worrying about safety.
- Capture the cat: On the trapping day, set the bait-trap before putting the food dish inside it, if you are using a trigger trap. If you have chosen a drop-down door trap, wait until the cat is inside the trap feeding as usual, and pull the rope on the drop-door and close the cat in. Being suddenly enclosed will alarm him at first, so you will need to wait until the cat is calmed down before approaching the trap.
- Sweeten the deal: To entice particularly stubborn or skeptical felines, try to add highly fragrant and flavorful morsels such as canned tuna, sardines, or cooked chicken out on the food dish.
- Add Catnip: Attract the cat by rubbing catnip on the plate before setting it out, or even over the cage, which might smell strongly of cleaning products or humans.
- Increase seclusion: Shy or wary feral cats might not be willing to risk eating in an open area, such as a patio or backyard where they will be in plain sight. Feral cat catchers have often found that setting a trap in a small corner of the garden, or at the far end of the side yard, is much more effective since the cat feels there is more privacy.
- Get their attention: Though the scent of food is usually enough to draw a kitty to the dish of delicacies, some people also try to capture the cat’s interest by using a laser pointer to draw them to the front of the trap where the food is placed.