How to Trap a “Hard-to-Trap” Feral
This is a method I have had to use many times, because most of my ferals were very hard to trap. (If you have a cat that still will not go into the trap, and the following method does not work, there is another type of trap you can try. That info is at the bottom) So, first you get a trap, and set it so it is open. Have it set up like you will when you are ready to trap, with a towel on the bottom. Then you take some yarn (or anything that is strong and will not break) and tie the trap door open. I normally put about four ties on there so that if one or two somehow break there is still no chance of it shutting. Then you can “spring” the trap so the trip plate is down. The trap should still be held open by your yarn.
Place the trap outside, preferably where the cats normally eat, but not in a high traffic (even foot traffic) place. If possible, get a bike chain or something, and chain the trap to an immovable object that is near by. People have been known to steal traps. You can cover the trap with a sheet if you are going to do that while trapping. You want the trap to be exactly how it will be when you finally are ready to trap. Some ferals prefer a covered trap, some don’t. You will have to figure that out with each cat. Mine will not go in with a sheet covering the trap, but I still keep one around the very far end so as soon as they go in I can cover the trap.
Once you have this all set up, place the bowl of food in front of the open trap…NOT in the trap. Let the cat (or cats) eat from the bowl sitting in front of the trap for a few days until they seem comfortable eating there. Once they are comfortable, for the next feeding move the bowl so it is just inside the opening. They may seem weary at first. Same thing, give them a few days to eat there, getting comfortable. Once they are comfortable, move the bowl farther in about an inch or two. You are going to repeat this process, slowly moving the bowl back an inch or two, each time they get comfortable eating where it is. Eventually, you will get to the point where the bowl is all the way at the back, and they calmly walk in and will sit and eat. You do not want them running in, grabbing a bite, and running out…or “jumping up” when they get halfway in. This can set off the trap before the are all the way in. Then they will be able to just back out, and it will take much longer to get them to trust the trap again.
So be patient, and do things on the cat’s time schedule. Obviously you will need to be watching the cat eat, so it will help if you can feed at the same time every day. Once they are eating comfortably all the way in, when they are not around take the ties off the trap, and set the trap. Now the fun part…waiting.
You will be nervous, and have so much adrenaline pumping through you. I have no advice on how to stay calm, I’m normally ready to jump out of my skin. As soon as the trap closes, and you have the cat in there, cover the trap with a sheet. This will hopefully help calm the cat. If you are not taking the cat immediately to either the vet or the spay/neuter clinic, then put the trap in a dark, quiet room. Bathrooms work great. If you are not going to be able to take the cat to the clinic/vet within 24 hours, then I would suggest moving the cat into a big dog crate/play pen (this works best with two people).
Have the crate covered with sheets so it is a safe dark place. Put the trap up to the door of the crate and cover any open spaces, with pillows, or whatever you have. One person holds the pillows in place while the other opens the trap door. If the cat does not come out take the sheet off the trap. They will most likely go from the uncovered trap into the covered crate. If they still will not move you might need some type of stick to poke their but with through the back of the trap, but only do this if really necessary; you do not want them to feel threatened. Once they are in the crate close the door.
You can then get a small litter box and a bowl for food and water to slide into the crate. If you have the bowls that attach to the side of the crate, you can have them in before you put the cat in. Just make sure you attach them near the door of the crate so you can easily get them in and out. As calm as the cat may seem, please wear gloves. You never know when they may decide to attack you.
When it is time to go to the vet/clinic, you do the same procedure reversed to get them back in the trap. Make sure someone is covering the open spaces so you don’t have an escape. It will not be easy to catch the cat again if he/she gets out! Hope this helps. If you have any questions or if anything doesn’t make sense feel free to message me!
When all other methods of trapping fail:
If you still have a feral that you just can’t seem to catch, you can try using a trap called the Drop Trap. I put this as a last resort because first of all, you will have to build it yourself, and second of all, I have never tried it myself. I almost made one to use when Shadow (my feral queen) was pregnant, because I’d been trying to catch her for a year with no luck. I finally caught her though (using the method I wrote about above) so I didn’t need to make the drop trap. I have heard it works very well though. Since I have not used it myself, I will just give links to the information. If anyone do use one, please let me know how things go.