Hard to Catch Cats

 Thanks to Neighborhood Cats for providing the following text and pictures

 

It seems like every colony has at least one in the crowd who just won't cooperate, no matter how much food you withhold or how much money you spend on roasted chicken, mackerel, sardines, solid white tuna or rare roast beef. Before you give up and try to find somewhere to live where there are no feral cats (good luck!), here's a few tried and proven methods:

 

1. The Drop Trap

 

The drop trap falls down over a cat, so they don't have to enter and move further into a narrow, confined space. In our experience, it's been very effective. The inventor of the drop trap featured on our site uses it to catch all the cats in a colony, not just the difficult ones (see How to Build & Use Your Own Drop Trap). Basic woodworking skills are needed to construct.

 

2. The Camouflage Trap

 

The concept is simple - disguise the trap so that it blends in with its surroundings. This can be done by draping burlap over the sides of the trap (though not the rear - the cat needs to see all the way through) and on the trap floor. Then cover the burlap with leaves, branches - anything that will add to the camoflauge. Along these same lines, sometimes even simpler things work, like putting the trap inside a cardboard box (with the rear door not covered), or leaning a large board against a wall and putting the trap behind it so it's hidden. Even draping a sheet over the sides might do the trick.

 

3. Training the Cat

 

Cats can be trained to go into traps as follows: With a stick or wire, secure the front door in an open position. Then place the trap in the

cat's territory, preferably near the normal feeding spot.

 

Begin by placing the cat's daily meal on a small plate a few inches in front of the front entrance to the trap. Once you see the cat is eating from this location, then the next meal, move the plate a couple of inches just inside the front of the trap. When the cat is eating from there, then move the food again, this time a few inches further into the trap. Continue this process of gradually moving the food inwards until the cat is going far enough in that you can set the trigger and the cat will step on the plate.

 

This process can take a couple of weeks or more. Unless the location where the training is taking place is extremely secure, the rear door of the trap should be removed so that no one can come along in your absence and catch a cat. Loosely tape a clear piece of plastic or even a piece of paper to the rear of the trap instead. It's a good idea, too, to chain and lock the trap onto an immovable object, like a pipe or fence. If possible, hide the trap in a way where it won't be easily seen by others by placing it behind something or camoflauging it in some way. Obviously this method won't work in a public area if the threat of theft or vandalism is too high.

 

4. Trap-in-a-Box

 

From the inventive mind of Susan Greene comes the "trap-in-a-box" technique. Susan builds wooden boxes for the cats which open from above, have two entrances, including one at a far end, and are shaped to fit a normal-sized trap when the trap's front door is open. The box can be used as either a shelter (it can be stuffed with hay and lined with insulation for winter warmth) or as a feeding station. Then when it's time to catch the cats, a trap is placed inside and set, and the cover to the wooden box is locked to prevent any tampering.

 

   

The two entrances are designed to allow the cat to escape strangers or predators.
Basic woodworking skills are needed.

 

For more on the method and Susan's work, go to: http://www.americancat.net/fastfood.html

 

5. Lure into a Confined Space

 

If you can draw the cat into an indoor space (with no exit, holes in the wall, etc.) and close the door behind him, he's yours. Once confined, you can take the patient route by setting a normal trap and otherwise depriving of food (though this can take days). If you can't or don't want to wait, then before you lure the cat in, take out of the space everything the feline could hide behind or under. Leave only a single large board (approx. 5 ft. long, 3 ft. wide) leaning against one wall, creating a triangular space. Place a set trap on the floor at one end of the board and block off the open space right above the trap with a sheet. When the cat enters the room and is frightened, he'll run behind the board, sometimes straight into the trap. If he doesn't go right in, gently poke a broomstick into the non-trap opening of the board to encourage him to move forward. If it doesn't work, withdraw, let the cat calm down, then try again later.

 

     

 

6. Little Things

 

Before going to the lengths of the methods described above, be sure you've tried all the small tricks which sometimes make the difference. These include using a variety of baits at once, leaving a trail of bait leading into the trap (crumbled Pounce is excellent for this), placing the trap against a wall or fence rather than out in the open, and most important of all, making sure the cat is hungry and has been deprived of food for 24 to 48 hours.

 

7. Picking One Out from the Crowd

 

Sometimes the problem isn't that the particular cat is wily, but that he's the only one you want out of a crowd of others who keep going in ahead of him. If that's the problem, the solution is to bypass the trigger/trip plate mechanism of the trap and go to manual control. Prop the front door of the trap open on top of a full water or soda bottle. Tie a long string around the neck of the bottle then stand some distance away. When your cat of choice finally goes in, yank the string, pulling the bottle away and shutting the door. Be sure to first practice the method at least once so you get the right feel for it, and wait until the cat is far enough in (up to or past the trip plate) before you pull the string.

 

Note: Nets & graspers

 

We don't recommend ever using a net or graspers to catch a feral cat. These are difficult to use and, if you actually succeed in nabbing the cat, it's dangerous to then extract or transfer him into a cage or trap. This kind of equipment should be used only by experienced professionals.