Trapping is sometimes the best option for capturing lost pets, especially skittish dogs, escaped indoor-only cats, and displaced outdoor-access cats (i.e. those lost outside their home territory).  However, it is important to understand that there are potential risks to you, your pet, and other animals when using a trap. You can reduce these risks by using some common sense and carefully reading the instructions in this guide.

At the very least, make sure that you:

  • Check your traps frequently – at least every 4 hours in good weather.  If possible, alarm your trap, so you know immediately when an animal is caught.
  • Protect any trapped animal from the elements:
    • If it’s hot out, place the trap in the shade and check more frequently.
    • If it’s cold out, provide a heat pack and check more frequently.
    • If it’s wet out, cover the trap with a tarp, heavy trash bag or shower curtain.
  • Get permission before placing the trap on private property and make sure that the trap is not in a highly visible location.
  • Lock the trap to a secure object so no one walks off with the trap and/or any animal inside.
Humane, cage, or box trap

If your trap is set up like this one, you probably aren’t going to catch your cat (and not just because there’s no bait in this trap).  Take the time to read the following instructions to learn how to successfully catch your lost pet.

Some very skittish or otherwise trap shy pets will not readily enter a humane cage trap.  If you think this applies to your pet, see the section on hard to trap cats or dogs.

Download a Trapping Checklist here