Never ever trap a cat without first having a plan! Most veterinary clinics require an appointment for spay/neuter surgery or exams, even for community cats.
It’s not difficult to establish a routine with your community cats which will improve your trapping success. The most important routine to establish is to set a feeding time and location. Setting a time and location allows for you to plan when to trap and to keep an eye on your cats for any signs of newcomers (including kittens), injuries or illness.
Prior to trapping it is important for the cats to acclimate to eating from the traps. About a week prior to trapping, start feeding the cats exclusively from the traps. Ensure the trap is not set during this time by using zip ties to secure the doors open and by removing the back door.
To make the trap more inviting, cover the bottom of with newspaper or a trap mat made from coin grip flooring. Do not cover the trip plate with heavy material which will trip the trap door.
Cover the trap with a sheet or fabric the same color of the surrounding area so it blends in. If it’s raining or snowing, you may also wrap the trap in a thick plastic contractor’s bag. After the cat goes into the trap move the trap into a dry space and remove the bag.
Withhold food for 24 hours prior to trapping. This will ensure the cats are more willing to go into the trap. Bait traps using bowls or containers from which the cats are used to eating. Always have two types of food for bait. Some standards are tuna in oil, sardines or wet food – choose something pungent! Make a trail of food using very small pieces of food not enough to satisfy the cat starting right outside the front of the trap leading to the dish. This helps distract the cat and gives them an idea of the delicious treat which awaits them at the back of the trap.
For cats who are difficult to trap with food, you may want to try catnip spray or flakes, a laser pointer or sounds of moms calling kittens, kittens calling moms, cats in heat or mice squeaking. If using sounds, set your phone on top of the trap in which you want the cat to go.