Humane Feral Cat Trapping

A feral cat is not the same as a stray cat. A stray cat is a cat that has been tamed, usually by a previous owner. Stray cats are comfortable around people, but feral cats are wild animals that are not comfortable with humans. In many communities, feral cats are humanely trapped, sterilized, vaccinated against rabies and then released back into their colonies. This helps prevent the spread of rabies and control the feral cat population.

How Humane Trapping Helps Feral Cats

Humane trapping, sterilization and vaccination of feral cats helps keep feral cat populations down, and helps keep homeless kittens out of shelters. Vaccinating feral cats helps reduce their risk of disease, and can also protect local people from dangerous diseases like rabies. Sterilizing feral cats helps them live longer, healthier lives by eliminating their risk of reproductive cancers and lowering their risk of injuries and infections due to fighting.

Preparing Feral Cats to Be Trapped

It's easier to humanely trap feral cats if you prepare them first. Though feral cats are generally too wild to approach humans, you can help draw them to the trapping area by feeding them there regularly.

Feed the feral cats at the same location and at the same time of the day every day. Leave the trap, unset and covered with a tarp or cloth, nearby during feeding so that the feral cats can become accustomed to its presence.

Plan to trap the cats ahead of time, since you don't want to keep them in captivity too long before their surgery. Ideally, you should try to trap the night before surgery. Cats should not eat within 12 hours prior to surgery, but denying a cat food for longer than 24 hours can put it in medical danger.

Don't feed the feral cats the day before you plan to trap them. You want them to be hungry so that they'll go easily into the trap.

Trapping Feral Cats

Set the trap just before the feral cat's usual feeding time. Bait the trap with strong-smelling food. Wire traps should be lined with newsprint so that the cat's feet don't slip through the bars when you pick it up.

Cover the trap with a cloth or tarp, leaving only the opening exposed, both to disguise the trap and to help keep the cat calm after it is trapped. Keep the trap covered until you have delivered the cat to the vet. Covering the trap helps calm the animal.

Stay nearby while waiting for a cat to enter your trap, but don't let them see you hanging around. Clean up food debris from the ground after removing a full trap, and before setting a new trap.

When you release the feral cat, make sure you do so in a safe area. Remember that the cat will probably run as fast as it can when released. Avoid busy roads and other dangers.

If you trap a lactating female, try to find the kittens, too. You will probably be able to catch the kittens by hand, but use thick gloves in case they bite or scratch. Remember that the kittens will need the continued care of their mother, even after she has surgery. If you can't find the kittens, release the mother in the same location within 10 hours of her surgery.