Hard-to-Trap Cats

Before you conclude that you have a hard to trap cat, make sure that you are effectively using your humane trap.

Most importantly:

  • Is your trap big enough?
  • Is the trap stable?  Make sure that the trap doesn’t move at all when your cat steps into it.
  • Did you cover the wire with something your cat would feel comfortable walking on?  Some cats don’t like the feel of wire under their feet.
  • Is the trap partially covered?  Many cats prefer to enter a trap that is covered on the top and sides but the back is left open making it appear like a tunnel.

Try to have patience and keep the trap in the same location for at least one week.  As much as possible don’t change anything about the appearance and if possible keep to a routine when you put in food and check the trap.  Some cats just need time to adjust to the trap.  If s/he won’t even go near the trap, then start with the food about 10-20 feet away and slowly move it closer each day until it is in in front of the trap.  Then slowly move the food farther into the trap each day that it is eaten.  Don’t set the trap until your cat is comfortably eating out of the back of the trap.

If your cat still won’t enter the trap, then you have a few options to try.

  • Obtain a larger humane trap.  Some cats that won’t enter a smaller trap will readily enter a dog-sized humane trap.
  • Create a “house trap.”  This is most effective for escaped indoor-only cats.  Leave a door open to a porch, garage or basement.  This must be monitored, and you need to devise a way to shut the door, preferably from a distance, when your cat enters.
  • Thoroughly clean and camouflage the humane trap that you have been using.  Make sure that the trap does not smell like any of its past occupants.  Don’t just use a detergent.  Also use an odor neutralizer if possible.  Cats are not as sensitive to scent as dogs, so this may not be extremely important.   However, cats are highly visual creatures, so effective camouflage is key.  See examples below.
  • Feral tom cat eating out of drop trap

    Borrow, buy or build a drop trap.  These are often used by cat rescue groups to capture trap shy feral cats.  The drop trap is essentially a large box propped up with a stick.  Cats that are uncomfortable entering a small cage trap will often readily walk under a drop trap.  This trap must be monitored, and when the lost cat enters and settles down to eat the food, the rope is pulled and the trap drops down capturing the cat.  The cat must then be transferred to a cage trap for transport back home.

    The Tomahawk Drop Trap is now available from Amazon.com.

Here is a video of a drop trap being used to trap feral cats.