This sounds easy in theory, trap them, get them fixed and no more unwanted kittens’ right? But just how do you do this when the cat runs at the sheer sight of you?
Live Traps – If you need to catch feral cats in your yard, then you can head over to your local humane society and see if they will lend you a live trap that is sized for raccoons and cats. This is a humane way to catch them but can be difficult, as cats are more cunning then you may think and you may check your trap the next morning and find a raccoon happily munching on the bait or better yet a skunk or skunks trapped in this cage and not a cat!
Pet Carrier trapping – This way worked best for me in the small village where we were building our house and a few feral cats were causing trouble. They were breeding and not finding enough food and were getting sick and skinny so we decided to do something for them.
But before you start trying to do your part for the over population of cats, you need to decide what your plan of action is. The first step is to ask your local humane society if they have a veterinarian who would be willing to help out with sterilization of these cats.
Then you need to ask if there is a home for feral cats in the area. If you live in the city they may be able to help you find a good home (sometimes a farm) for a fixed feral cat or if you live in the country, you could simply re-release them to the farm they were living around when you caught them and make a deal with the farmer.
Most farmers like feral cats in small numbers because they keep the mice down in the barns. A farmer I know won’t even feed them, they have to catch their own supper. This works, but sometimes the population can get out of control and there is not enough food for them all.
In the city they tend to hang out in the local parks, and can overrun it quickly as there are not the same enemies in the city. So, trying to catch a feral cat and getting it fixed is a great way to help out with this problem.
Step One – Place a large cat carrier with a good closing door in your yard near where you have seen the feral cat or cats, and place some really strong smelling food such as roasted chicken or a tin of oily tuna in the back of the carrier so that they have to put all 4 paws inside. Pick a time of day that works best for you where you can watch for an hour or two but take the food away if they don’t show up or you will get other wildlife.
Try to do this at the same time each day. I found late afternoon worked the best for me. They didn’t show up the first day but did the second. Were most likely watching the first day.
Step 2 – They won’t be able to resist strong smelling food, and they will come. Once they start eating the food (they will circle this carrier first but will eventually head in out of hunger) let them do this for a few days.
Step 3 – Start sitting somewhere in the yard where they can see you but not too close. They will be wary but will be hungry and will begin to associate you with the feedings. Make sure the food is right at the back of the carrier so they have to go right inside. You can switch to cat food, but I found tins of tuna worked well (I would get them on sale and use about ½ a tin each day).
Then sit closer the next day, and see if they will still go in. If they don’t show, don’t just leave the food out, they need to associate you with this food. After a few days they will come to depend on this extra food.
When the day comes you are going to close the door, make sure you are wearing thick gloves and that the door works well, because if he escapes during this process he will not come back again, so practice with the door and get those gloves on ahead of time.
Step 4 – Put some really good stinky food in there, maybe the tuna and a piece of roast chicken at the back of the carrier, and put it out a bit later then your usual schedule so that he is good and hungry. Remember he has come to depend on you for some food each day, and then wait beside it. Let them go in and eat.
Once they are eating with all 4 paws inside this carrier, they are trusting you, and I know this will make you feel bad, but it will help with the cat population in the end.
Step 5 – Wearing your gloves quickly slam the door shut just like you practiced . All his paws must be in or he will get out, a feral cat is strong. Don’t be surprised by how nasty they can get when they are trapped. Just make sure you are still wearing your gloves for those claws that try to come through the gate of the carrier.
Step 6 – On the day you plan on closing the gate, make sure and let the agency or Veterinarian know you are going to catch a feral cat today so they can be ready with a sedative and warn them to wear long thick gloves too!
If that was the only cat, then you have been successful, if there are more, you can start again.
A friend of mine who owns a farm, was having a population explosion, so she did this with a few cats a week, and got them fixed. They would then release them back to the barn, and the kitten population slowed down.
She even found a few of them became tame and ended up in her house as farm “house” cats.
How to catch a feral cat? – Lots of patience, a good cat carrier with a good locking door, heavy gloves and some tins of tuna. Then feel good about helping curb the wild feral cat population and getting one more cat off the streets!