Part of Ireland's TNR Manual
How to Help Community Cats
A basic box trap is a painless and humane method of safely capturing cats.
Regardless of the level of socialisation, do not attempt to pick up a cat to put her in a carrier. Use a humane box trap or drop trap to ensure the safety of the cats and you. (Never use darts or tranquilizers to attempt to catch a cat. These methods are dangerous and stressful to the cats.)
Outward opening entry doors are preferable to inward opening ones. The former can tap a cat-on-the-edge into the trap, while the latter can catch on the top of the cat, allowing her escape.
And, it's essential your cat trap has a back door that shuts like a guillotine to allow safe transfer of the cat to a transfer or hospital cage. If this door has no secure lock (eg. the MDC Eezicatch trap plexiglass door), be sure to secure it with a cable tie before using to ensure trapped cats can't flip it open.
Unfortunately, we haven't found an outward opening cat trap available in Ireland - do let us know if you know of one! The two best traps we've used are:
Pictured at the top of this page - in their own words ...
This trap is a favorite among feral cat trappers who conduct Trap-Neuter-Return or "TNR" projects. Quality built to last, no sticky hinges or springs; Rear door release; Unique patent door design, enables full length trap utilization; Positive-catch door lock a unique self-locking design; Automatic door release activated when trap is placed in an upside-down position; The trap employs variable trigger setting mechanism; Powder coated for durability and long lasting performance
Currently only available from the US. We love it!
Tru-Catch have an excellent how-to on setting and using the trap and maintenance instructions - see it here (pdf).
Pictured right - paraphrased from their own words, are built from wire mesh, covered in powder coating to ensure long life. The dark brown colour helps the trap blend into the background ... lightweight but does not trade off weight for strength ... outward opening door. The back door slips up ... Available with either a mesh or solid floor. Currently only available from the UK. Since we first wrote these pages, the Eezicatch trap has reached a par with the Tru-Catch and may be a more cost-effective option.
Setting and using the Eezicatch trap is pretty much the same as the Tru-Catch (see above).
If you're thinking of buying either of these traps, it's worth checking on Feral Cats Ireland's FB pages to see if other Irish groups would like to gang together to buy in bulk - saving postage costs - it happens more often than you'd think!
Manual & Multi-Cat Traps
- Multi-cat traps, including static and drop traps
- Manual set-up of the traditional box trap
- Traps with electronic remote-controlled door mechanisms
We'd recommend making or purchasing at least one multi-cat trap. If you can afford - or know someone with the skills to build - a remote control set-up for a trap, don't hesitate to get one. They're brilliant.
Find out more on our Manual Traps pages.
Designs to Avoid
- Some traps have more powerful mechanisms than others. Trap doors that close quickly and powerfully risk injuring cats near the doorway - either bigger cats that fill the cage, or when more than one cat enters the trap at the same time. Kittens following their mum or each other are particularly vulnerable. We don't recommend using these traps at all.
- Traps with no back door make cat transfer very difficult - risking the cat escaping, injuring herself or injuring you. Best avoided.
- You'd be surprised, but some seemingly well designed trap doors can bounce open when a determined and frantic cat throws themselves against them. Do check the trap door for security before using it on a project.
- A 'tail gap' in the trap door is essential to avoid injuring tails - avoid traps without one.
Things To Consider
- Make sure you have enough traps for the entire colony - one trap per cat and a few extra in case a trap malfunctions. If your goal is to trap a colony of 20 cats, then set about 25 traps on your first attempt. If you do not have access to that many traps at one time you will have to trap the cats in shifts. But don't be discouraged! Very few, if any, TNR groups in Ireland have the funding to purchase that many traps and shift trapping is common, if not best practice.
- You may be able to borrow some traps in your area, from a local vet, TNR group or animal shelter. Always determine an animal shelter’s policy toward feral cats before borrowing - some may require you to return the trap and the cat. Best Practice organisations will NOT lend traps for capturing healthy ferals in order to kill them.
- There are several companies that make and/or sell humane box traps. The companies we've listed above are only two we have come to trust and use after years of testing and trapping. Obviously they do not represent a comprehensive list. Experienced trappers have their own preferences. If you borrow traps from local caregivers or trappers or a vet, ask them to teach you how to work with each specific trap.
- Research the correct size trap. The standard size traps for community cats are usually referred to as the 'cat' size. Trapping tom cats may require a larger size trap.
- Always put kitten safety first when trapping by using the correct traps. You should have one trap per cat so that the kittens are less likely to follow each other into a single trap. Having said that, though kitten traps exist, we've never found the need to use one. You can manually spring the box traps with string and a water bottle to ensure that no kittens are by the trap door when it’s triggered (see Manual Traps).
- Look for the right features and consider additional equipment needs.