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Trapping Help

There are many websites with advice on how to trap a feral cat. If you have a difficult cat to trap, let us know and we may be able to help.


CARE is NOT a trapping service. Although we would love to offer these service, we simply do not have the resources. We appreciate your understanding of these limitations. 

Things you need to know before you trap


Trapping and Returning

If you have never held or picked up

the cat you plan to catch -

USE A TRAP! Do not try to put

the cat in a carrier. You risk injury

to yourself and if you are bitten

or scratched, the cat will have to

be quarantined for ten days. When

you borrow a trap from CARE, we

will instruct you on the proper use

of that trap and give you advice on

how to go about trapping your

colony cats. All traps must be

returned clean and undamaged.


A $75 refundable deposit is required to borrow a trap. Please be prepared with a check, cash, or a credit card number.


Before Trapping

You must have an appointment date before you call to reserve a trap. Traps are usually available for pick up 7-10 days before the appointment. When borrowing a trap, a CARE Equipment Agreement Form must be completed and signed.

  • Place newspaper in the bottom of the trap.

  • Dusk and Dawn are the best times for trapping feral cats. Establish a routine feeding time and place. The more exact you can make it, the easier your trapping will be.

  • Place the trap in the feeding area for several days so that cats become accustomed to seeing it and the smell of any other cats previously trapped in it.

  • Set the trap so that it is open but will NOT close when triggered. If you have an unmodified automatic model tie the main door open with a bit of string. (Be sure string is trimmed short so that cats do not play with it or eat it. String can be very harmful if eaten.)

  • Begin feeding the cat/cats within the trap as far in advance of your appointments as possible. One week is best.

  • Even if there are several cats in the colony that have been fixed, all of them should enter the trap to eat. If you leave any food outside, it is impossible to control which cats enter to eat and which do not.

  • Skip one feeding prior to your first trapping attempt. Missing one meal is not at all unusual for a hunter and will not hurt them at all. It will however make them all more likely to show up on schedule for the next feeding time.

  • Do not trap more than 2 nights before your SCHEDULED appointment.



  • Provide one to two servings of a more tempting than average food - tuna, fried chicken, canned mackerel into the back of the trap.

  • Test the trip plate or manual trap door to ensure it is functioning properly.

  • Move trapped cats to a secure location until their appointment.

If this is a colony in progress and some cats have already been neutered:

  • A modified automatic trap or a drop trap may be needed to catch specific cats. You can modify an automatic trap by propping the door open with a full plastic water bottle. Tie a string around the water bottle. 

  • Provide enough food to be sure there is enough for several cats to eat and leave.

  • Wait until the target cat enters the trap and pull the string - causing the bottle to fall and the door will close. 

ALWAYS cover the trap with a sheet or towel immediately after the trap door closes to calm the cat. KEEP them covered even at your appointment.


  • Some cats are too afraid to enter the trap. In this situation, bait the trap with very enticing food. If cats are accustomed to dry food, try canned. If they are accustomed to canned food, try tuna, sardines, baby food, fried chicken, or other strong smelling meats.

  • Consider zip-tying the door closed to prevent the cat from escaping the trap overnight once caught.

  • Do not try to remove the food used to trap the cat.



If you are having difficulty trapping:

  • Sometimes, trying a different type of trap will help. A wood trap is larger but the scent of previous cats lingers longer than a metal trap. The shiny metal may make them nervous on one type of automatic trap, but they have no qualms about entering a metal trap painted brown.

  • We have a few large drop traps available for the most wary of cats if all else has failed. However, they do take two people to operate.


Pre-Surgery Protocol

No food or water after Midnight the night before the appointment.



  • Do not hold feral cats for an extended period of time. It will increase their stress and impede their recovery.

  • Females should remain in the trap or confined for at least two nights. If they were pregnant at the time of surgery, keep them in at least 3 nights.

  • Males should be confined overnight.

  • All cats, male and female, should be alert, able to stand and move about normally and eating before they are released.


Post- Surgical Care

All cats are given medication to wake them up from anesthesia. Males usually recover more quickly than females.


IMPORTANT: If the cat appears in serious trouble or critical condition following surgery, take them to the nearest Veterinary Emergency Clinic. CARE does not cover the cost.


After 8:00 pm day of surgery, do not feed more than a tablespoon of food at a time. Instead of water, give them an ice cube in a dish or bowl, allowing it to melt, which will give them small amounts of water at a time. This will help them avoid being sick. Follow the after care instructions for the vet partner.


WE RECOMMEND ALL friendly cats and young kittens be placed in good homes if possible and NOT returned to the streets. Friendly cats that were abandoned by their previous owners have the most difficult time surviving on the streets. They are not accustomed to searching for their food and are not street smart. They trust people, even those people they shouldn't. There are some people who truly hate cats and will harm them. These are the cats that desperately need to be placed in a new home.



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