Dry Creek Hill

Feral Cat Fridays: Cat Trapping 101

MiniMo is the last cat remaining from our colony, but it took trapping, neutering, and cat care to control our population. The first thing we had to do was trap cats.

The feral cats on our property were accustomed to dry food. They liked it fine and came running when we shook food in a cup, but we thought we’d have better luck enticing them into a trap with something more special than their regular fare. We had traps on order. While we waited on delivery we got a few cans of wet cat food and began a program of evening snacks. It didn’t take long before they eagerly awaited their late afternoon party.

When new cats like Sage and Rue arrived we’d quickly adapt them to the traps.

We also prepared a recovery room in the back half of an old shed. With a few weeks of work we put up a new wall and door. After insulating and rewiring we installed a window unit air conditioner. Although initially designed as a feline ICU, it makes a small workshop when it is unoccupied.

Our traps arrived and the big day came. Loretta baited a trap with wet food, took it into the yard, and retreated inside. Several cats examined the strange new object and Jackson took a bold step into the trap. The door closed softly and he continued eating, unaware that his days as a man-about-town were about to end. He realized he was caught when we came to collect the trap, but he quickly calmed down after we covered the trap with a sheet and brought him into the shed. We trapped one other cat that same evening, and after a last meal we left both of them with water only to await the morning trip to the spay/neuter clinic.

We became regular clinic customers for months, typically bringing in two cats each Monday morning and picking them up Monday afternoon. After recovery time in the shed they were released into the yard, apparently no worse for the experience and sporting a tipped ear as an “I’ve been fixed” sign.

I wonder what those things are for?

The last cats we trapped required extra effort. When the traps were not in use we left them in the yard, sometimes baited with a little dry food so those cats would get used to seeing them. I’ll describe the full system we used for the trap-shy cats next week.

5 thoughts on “Feral Cat Fridays: Cat Trapping 101

  1. shoreacres

    That last photo’s fun. The feral cats that had been hanging around my bird feeders are gone now; their owners may have moved, or the coyotes may have gotten them. If more show up, I know where to borrow a trap now, and I can put your techniques to work.

    I’ve been watching your weather with interest, since it’s heading our way. I’ve got friends in Fredericksburg and Llano who’ve lost numbers of trees and limbs, but so far no roofs have taken a hit. I hope you and Loretta are snug; I presume MiniMo’s being accomodated, too.

    1. Charles Prokop Post author

      Trapping isn’t too hard as long as you’re patient and do your best to habituate the cats to the trap. You do run into clever and trap-shy cats at times and I’ll talk about ways to handle them next week. Despite our best efforts there were a few that eluded us. They were always older males, and since we had spayed all the females we didn’t worry too much about them.

      We’re hoping we don’t get a tree and power destroying storm out of this weather. Things so far are cold, but not brutal. The next few days may be tough if the forecast is accurate. MiniMo has extra everything for warmth and we’ll trap her if things get too cold. She’s tough to handle because of her aversion to being touched but she stays close to us, and that helps. She’s doing OK now and is hunkered down in all the extra protection we’ve given her.

    2. Charles Prokop Post author

      MiniMo is now in a large crate in my study. Yesterday, we put the crate on the deck where she likes to stay. She finally got in this morning, and after we added a heating pad to the bed in the crate she happily stayed in while we came out and shut the door. She isn’t sure she likes being inside and serenades me every now and then, but she obviously appreciates the warmth. I think we’ll all do a lot better now until things warm back up. If things go well I might experiment with letting her out to roam my study, but I’ll need to be sure things are well protected before I take that chance. She actually seems pretty happy right now.

      1. shoreacres

        Ah…. that’s good. I was going to leave my biggest schefflera tucked in a corner outside with freeze cloth and light bulbs, but when the projected lows started going down (14F, now) and the highs were listed as 22-24F, it seemed an iffy proposition. I managed to haul the thing inside, and it seems pretty happy , too. When it finally warms up, I can take the opportunity to give the entire patio a good cleaning before I haul them back out.

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