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Feed on

trapping challenges

The scope of the TNR project was unclear from the start. One report was 1 mom and 4-5 kittens, another person said 10-12 cats, many of them kittens and another person figured there were a lot more. Not knowing what I was in for, I borrowed 12 traps and made 12 s/n appointments, 10 for one day and 2 for the next.

There are many challenges with this site. There are lots and lots of tame/friendly cats roaming around and a bunch of eartipped ferals. There are also the non-eartipped ferals that I needed to get mixed in with all those. The ferals only come out at night. And this is a dense apartment area with lots of people coming and going.


The cat’s feed on this door step, so since all the cats are accustomed to coming to this spot, we decide to focus all the trapping right there. As you can see, there’s not a lot of space there to work with!

The first night we trapped, we only caught 4 non-eartipped ferals. Oh, and we got a opossum, but we’re not looking to spay/neuter them! There was one more feral that kept coming to the traps but she refused to go in. In this colony, there are two small feral black & white cats, one we trapped successfully on trapping night and the second one refused to go in the traps. After another week of trying to get this elusive girl the decision was made to bring in the drop trap.


First night with the drop trap, all is quiet. Where did all those feral cats go?!

It didn’t take long with the drop trap before she made her first appearance. She was so skittish, so fearful of everything. She popped under the trap while another cat was already under feasting away. I didn’t pull the cord because I couldn’t see if the black cat’s tail was fully under the trap – I didn’t want to risk bringing the trap down on top of a tail. After that one time of being under he trap for maybe three seconds, she never came back in the nearly three hours we waited.

Drop trapping at night with not-great light is not easy! Trying to look for eartips in the faint light from a distance is quite the workout on the eyeballs. So now imagine trying to distinguish the already eartipped small black and white from the nearly identical non-eartipped black and white!


Second night of drop trapping and there was a lot of kitty action. The cat under the trap in this photo is the very friendly, owned cat who enjoyed playing with the pull string once it got his fill on the bait food.

A few nights later I popped back by with the drop trap. This time the black and white girl hung around for nearly the hour all while I was there. She finally went under the trap and I was about to pull the cord when a friendly cat came by, saw the string of the pull cord and started to play with it! His playing with the string spooked the girl and she disappeared again for a bit. A few minutes later she came back but this time an eartipped feral boy started playing with the string! Ugh!


Yum! Yum! – friendly boy eats all the bait!

Eventually it was just her under the trap, so just as I was ready to pull the cord I noticed her tail was sticking out. Drop trapping on a concrete sidewalk would really squish a cat’s tail if it was caught under the falling trap and no way am I going to bring a drop trap down on a cat’s tail. So, I waited and waited for her to tuck her tail in and eventually she did. One good yank and I had two cats, the black and white I was hoping for and an eartipped feral who we had trapped the week prior.

Drop trapping is such an adrenalin rush. Pulling that cord, hearing the trap fall, and seeing the cat panic – all in about a second – wow! My heart beats nearly out of my chest when I’m holding the string, waiting for just the right moment to yank.

With happy thoughts of this project being just about done, I transfered the girl from the drop trap to the regular trap. And then another neighbor across the way comes out of her place and announces that she just saw a litter of babies under the shed by her apartment earlier today. Oh great! The project ain’t done yet, there’s another mama and her babies to be had. So, now it’s time to look at my schedule and clear some space for another trapping – hopefully sooner rather than later. I’ll also have to try to find a foster mom for the kittens as I’m still full with my other litter from a different site.

8 Responses to “trapping challenges”

  1. Katie Isabella says:

    LOVED reading this and even I with no role in this was on the edge of my chair throughout hoping and wondering.

    There are male angels and you are one of them.

  2. yep – there is nothing like finding something in the trap (so long as it isn’t a possum or raccoon)….good luck with the rest and keep up the good work!!

  3. greg1948 says:

    That sounds and looks like a great challenge, trying to catch a nimble cat with that drop trap. I did not know people were using them to trap cats. It was all very interesting, as usual.

  4. Falkosmom says:

    I need to trap a feral, but there are a lot of skunks around. Any suggestions? I would not have a clue what to do if I caught a skunk.

    • thecatguy says:

      Wow, that could be exciting! A few things to consider, if you are using one of the Tru-Catch brown traps, they are designed to release the animal when the trap is rolled over. So, you could get something with a long handle, like a rake, and stand on the opposite end of the door that falls open and slowly roll it over. Once the trap’s upside down the door would open and the skunk could leave on it’s own.

      The other option, which would probably be my choice, is to drop trap. That way you can be in control of what you trap. If course it means you need to sit and watch the whole time, but it’s very effective and selectively trapping a cat. Good luck!

  5. Katiek says:

    Great post. We also have great luck with the drop trap. And we worry all the time about those cat tails! It’s a race: will they tuck their tail in before they eat all the bait and get away. Tucked tail usually wins & we pull the string. And another wildlife question: Any suggestions raccoons at feeding stations? Such pests

  6. thecatguy says:

    Building a raccoon proof feeding station requires thinking through differences between cats and raccoons. Cats can jump but raccoons cannot. This difference can be exploited to give cats a space that raccoons cannot get to.

    This site will give you some ideas: http://www.forgottenfelinesofforsyth.org/newslettervol3page4.htm

    I built my raccoon proof feeder in the side of the garage. The entrance is about five feet off the ground. To enter, the cats jump up on the table and then have to jump up from the table, something raccoons cannot do. I put metal flashing on the wall below the entrance so the raccoons can’t climb up. It’s been in operation for a few years now and no raccoon has gotten entry but the cats use it daily! I posted about my feeder her: http://www.fourwhitepaws.net/2012/07/happenings-new-feeder.html

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