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Frequently Asked Questions
Humane Trapping Process
Ten Steps to Trapping and Altering Your Feral Cats
Thank you for assuming the responsibility to trap and neuter
your feral colony. Forgotten Felines has a limited source of manpower
and your own efforts will make a critical difference in helping
us to control the feral cat population. A neutered colony is a
Please plan what you are going to do with the cat you are trapping
BEFORE you trap. Your plan should be one of the following:
Watch our trapping videos:
- Trap and take the cat to your veterinarian for neutering,
vaccinations, ear tipping and necessary health care. Be sure
to tell the vet to use stitches which will dissolve, that the
animal is wild, and ask them to tip the ear. Take a pet carrier
(large enough to hold the cat laid out) to the vet's office with
you. Ask the vet to transfer the cat into the carrier after surgery
for recovery. You will transport the cat home in the carrier.
The carrier will be more comfortable for the cat if you need
to care for the cat between the time it leaves the vet and its
release to your property to be cared for, fed and watered daily.
Be sure to make appointment and arrangements with your vet
BEFORE you trap.
Or, if the feral cats cannot remain and be cared for:
- Take the cat to the animal shelter that serves your area.
Before trapping, call the shelter to find out their hours. It
is inhumane to keep a cat in a trap for much longer than a few
hours. Please be aware that animals brought to a shelter will
most likely be destroyed. Please Note: It is illegal to trap
an animal and abandon it at an alternate location. Legally you
may ONLY take it to the local animal shelter.
PREPARATION FOR TRAPPING
If possible, get the cats used to being fed at the same place
and time of day. You might try leaving the trap unset during routine
feeding so that the animal will get used to seeing and smelling
it in the area. Don't feed the cats the day/night before you are
going to trap so the cats will be hungry. Be sure to notify others
who may feed the cats not to leave food out either.
Plan to trap so that you don't have to keep the cat too long
before surgery. Trapping the night before is usually the best
approach. Cats should not eat 12 hours prior to surgery.
Prepare the area where you will be holding the cat in the trap
before the vet appointment. A garage or other sheltered, warm,
protected area is best. Lay down newspaper to catch the inevitable
stool, urine and food residue. You may want to use pieces of wood
to elevate the trap off the newspaper. This allows the mess to
fall through the wire away from the cat.
Prepare the vehicle you will use to transport the cat as well.
Plastic may be an additional precaution. But remember that you
will need to use newspaper or some other absorbent material in
addition. (Urine will roll right off plastic.)
Plan your day of trapping carefully. Remember that if you trap
an animal and release it for some reason, it is unlikely that
you will be able to catch it again. They learn very quickly to
If there are young kittens involved, they should not be weaned
from the mother before 4 - 6 weeks of age. If you are trapping
a lactating female, wait until you have located
the kittens and they are old enough to wean. If you wish to tame
and foster the kittens to adopt out, they should be taken from
the mother at 4 - 6 weeks. If you wait until the kittens are older
than 4 - 6 weeks before trying to tame them, you will find the
job progressively harder with age.
SETTING THE TRAP
Plan to set the trap just before or at the cats normal feeding
time. Dusk is usually the best time to trap.
Don't trap in the rain or the heat of the day without adequate
protection for the trap. Never leave the trap unattended.
WAITING FOR SUCCESS
- Fold 1 sheet of newspaper lengthwise and place on floor of
- Place mound of tuna at sliding-door end of trap right
up next to door.
- Place trap. Make sure door is PROPERLY latched.
- Set trap door. Place trail of small tuna pieces from
outside of door to just inside the trap. Do not place
food more than _ way inside trap.
Never leave trap unattended and don't hang around within sight
of the cat or you will scare it off. The trapped animal is vulnerable.
Passersby may release the cat or steal the trap. Wait quietly
in an area where you can still see the trap without disturbing
the cats. You can often hear the trap trip. As soon as the
intended cat is trapped, completely cover the trap with
large towel or sheet and remove the trap from the area. When you
get the captured cat to a quiet area lift the cover and check
for signs that you have the correct animal and not a pet or previously
neutered cat. Forgotten Felines tips the ear of every animal we
alter so we can avoid repeat trappings. If you note that you have
captured a lactating female, check the area for kittens and remember
that this female must be released 10 - 12 hours after surgery
so she can care for and nurse her kittens. Cover the cat back
up as soon as possible. Uncovered, the animal may panic and hurt
itself thrashing around in the trap.
There is always the chance that you will catch a wild animal
attracted to the food or an unintended cat. Simply release the
animal quietly as stated in the releasing procedures here.
After you have finished trapping, you will probably have to
hold the cat overnight until you can take it to the vet. (Unless
you have made previous arrangements with a vet.)
Keep cats covered and check periodically. They will probably
be very quiet as long as they are covered. Don't stick fingers
in the trap or allow children or pets near the traps. These are
wild animals which scratch and bite. ALL animal bites are serious.
If you are bitten seek medical attention and do NOT release the
cat. It must be quarantined. Contact your vet for quarantine instructions.
Wash and change clothes before having contact with your own
pets as a precaution against spreading any contagious diseases
the cats may carry.
Always get feral kittens checked out by a vet and isolate them
from your own pets. Some deadly diseases can incubate without
symptoms. Check with your veterinarian and use caution.
RELEASING THE CAT
If a cat does not seem to be recovering well from the surgery,
consider having it rechecked by your vet before releasing. When
cats are ready for release, (fully recovered from the anesthesia)
return to the area in which they were captured and release them
there. Do not relocate the animal. It will be disoriented and
most likely die. It is against the law to take to an alternate
location and abandon an animal.
If the veterinarian has indicated a serious medical problem
with the cat which you will not be able to treat, you, with the
advice of the vet, must make the decision on whether it is safe
to release the animal or kinder to euthanize it. Untreated abscesses
and respiratory infections and a number of other conditions can
mean suffering and a slow death.
Make sure the spot you pick for release does not encourage
the cat to run into danger (like a busy street) to get away from
you. When ready, simply hold the carrier with the door facing
away from you and open the door. The cat will probably bolt immediately
out of the carrier. If it is confused, just tilt the carrier so
the back is slightly up and tap on the back of the carrier to
encourage it to leave. Never put your hand in the carrier! If
the animal still will not leave, prop the door open and leave
it for a while.
After releasing the cat, hose off the trap and carrier and
disinfect them with bleach. Never store traps in the "set"
position (door open). Animals may wander into even unbaited traps
and starve to death.
Watch our trapping videos:
- Bring a flashlight with you if trapping at night. It will
come in handy for checking traps from a distance and might help
you avoid a twisted ankle.
- Some kittens can be caught without a trap but are still too
wild to be handled easily. Use a thick towel to pick up the kitten
to help protect you from scratching and biting. This also helps
prevent the kitten from squirming away from you.
- For advice regarding the taming and/or fostering of feral
or orphaned kittens, feel free to contact Forgotten Felines of
Sonoma County or your veterinarian.
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