Trapping Stray/Feral Cats 101
By Diane Fraser
One day you see a stray cat and you couldn’t resist feeding it. This situation can happen either at home and/or at your work location. Now, the next step. After a few days of feeding you need to determine that this cat doesn’t belong to anyone (check with your neighbors) and it has not moved along or went home. You must do the right thing for this cat and get it neutered (or spayed for females). The last thing you want is to wake up one morning and find that cat with a litter of kittens on your porch or in the bushes.
Now that we have determined that you need to get this cat to the veterinarian for its neuter surgery and rabies shot, there are a few ways to go about capturing it.
Make sure you have made arrangements with your vet to bring this cat to them once you capture it. Make sure your vet knows the circumstances of the cat, so they are prepared to deal with a feral cat. If you don’ t have a veterinarian, check out our “Low cost or no cost clinic” section of our web site for some suggestions.
You should use caution when picking up a strange cat. Actually, I would caution against it. Some cats don’t like to be held, period. Others are truly feral (cats that have not had human socialization). If you try to pick up a feral cat, he/she will bite or scratch you as they try to get away. That will lead you to having a painful injury that may end you up with a hospital visit, a tetanus shot and antibiotics.
One way to capture the cat is to put food into the back of a big cat or small dog airline carrier. This way may take a few days for the cat to get used to going inside the pet carrier. Leave the pet carrier outside (if in a secure area, if not then bring the carrier with you each day and take it away after you are done feeding) and keep putting the food inside each day for the cat to eat. Some cats are so hungry, once they smell the food; they go inside the carrier with little or no worry. Once the cat is in the carrier, the next step is to quickly shut and lock the door.
If that still doesn’t work, then you need to use a humane trap…like a Hav-a-heart trap. You can either rent from us, or you can purchase them at Finish Line Feeds or Home Depot for about $50.00-$60.00. Once you set the trap the cat walks in to eat, it walks on the trip device and the door shuts behind. Most cats will freak out, so have a sheet handy to put over the trap to calm the cat. Take the trap, with the cat inside, to the veterinarian.
Consult with the veterinarian to see if you should test for Feline Aids and Feline Leukemia. It is a blood test to determine if this cat has not been exposed to one of these viruses. You may want to test for Aids and Leukemia, especially if there are other cats in the area and/or if this cats is sick.
Once the cat is neutered and vaccinated and has spent the night at the veterinarians office. It is then time to release the cat back to the same place you trapped it. Don’t try to relocate the cat to another location. It would displace the cat and it may try to get back to where it knew it could find food. It could get hurt in the process. My suggestion would be to continue to feed and care for this cat in the same location. It can live a long and healthy life there. If there are other issues involved and you need additional assistance, please feel free to call Diane at 954-816-0799 for advice.
For more information about feral cats go to www.alleycat.org. This web site is dedicated to a better understanding of feral cats in our community.