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Old September 21st, 2006, 07:30 AM
catsnatcher-CDN catsnatcher-CDN is offline
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How to catch a feral cat

I don't think I have all the answers but having spent the last 2 years catching over 50 cats in CDN, this is my best advice. Since a few people have asked me for advice, I'll post it here publicly. I know there are other "cat-snatchers" on board who have different tactics and ideas.

There is more than one way to catch a cat

This was my way:

The fastest and easiest way of trapping a feral cat is a live trap. Your local SPCA or rescue will lend one out to you.

If that's not an option, you need to have ALOT of patience. Unfortunately, my ferals went through a few pregnancies before I was able to trap them. But they were quite older and I was trying to tame them AND trap them at the same time. Today I know that it's much better to trap them first, tame them next in a more controlled environment.

A feral cat needs to depend on you for food. Regular feeding will associate you with food. A routine will calm a feral cat and build expectations which will eventually pave the way to a trusting relationship between the cat and you.


Phase I

Start a routine with her. Always feed her at the same time, always call her the same way, always use the same pet carrier and always at the same place. Try not to move the pet carrier from the same spot. Call her and wait for her to show herself. Let her see you prepare her feeding. Prepare something that will surely get her inside that cage for the first few times. Nothing works better than hot rotisserie chicken or canned tuna. Change it to regular cat food once she's used to going in. Try to feed her everyday at the same time. Put the food at the end of a HUGE pet carrier and walk away. If she doesn't show up, don't leave the food behind. Feed her only when she shows up. For now it’s more important that she eats because of you instead of at the same time every day.
But eventually, you’ll manipulate the time you feed her so that it’s consistent.

Your goal is to get her to depend on you and associate you with food and to trust the pet carrier.

Phase II

Continue the routine. But instead of leaving her alone with the pet carrier, settle nearby: close enough for her to see you, far enough for her to feel secure. Stick around until she starts to eat in front of you. If she's eating in front of you, she's beginning to trust you.

Your goal now is to get her to eat while you're nearby (a sign of trust) and closer to her while she's eating inside the pet carrier. Remember, if she doesn't show up, don't leave the food. If she shows up later, you can feed her later but with the same routine. Return to her regular feeding time right away.

Phase III

Keep the same routine but instead of sitting at a distance, sit right next to the pet carrier. She needs to get into that cage to eat. All four paws need to be in and not only the front two. Your goal now is for her to eat while she's inside the pet carrier and your sitting next to it.

Phase IV: The TRAPPING

1. Make sure she's hungry. Instead of feeding her on time, feed her either the next day or later in the evening. ( Most people can't find the heart to skip a feeding but it works the best if you do).

2. Go through the movements of closing that cage door so that nothing goes wrong (i.e. the bottom metal of the lock sometimes will get stuck in the ground and the door won't close; the cage will flip flop on an unsteady ground making it difficult to close the door.) Practice the movement a few times while she's not there. Try to foresee any problems and solve them before you trap her.

Have her favorite food: Hot rotisserie chicken or Tuna from a can works the best.

Same routing. Call her, let her see you prepare the food. Put the food at the end of the cage. Sit next to the cage and wait.

If her back paws are out of the cage, don't close the door. Leave it for the next day. All her paws need to be inside the cage. A trapped feral cat goes NUTS for the first few minutes. Be ready for it. If you’ve never seen it, it’ll make quite the impression on you. It's very frightening and her panic will scare you before you can ensure that the door is securely locked. If she runs out, the pet carrier will not longer be a safe place for her. So be sure she's inside completely and you can calmly close the door. (I wear gloves so that I'm not scratched while she's inside and I’m manipulating the lock on the cage).

How long will all this take?

I don’t know. Depends on the cat and how fast she will trust you enough to eat while you’re sitting nearby. It could take a few weeks, it could take a few months. You can never tell how fast she will progress. It depends on her past exposure to humans and her temperament.

Last edited by catsnatcher-CDN; September 21st, 2006 at 08:11 AM.
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  #2  
Old June 20th, 2008, 04:11 PM
amaya amaya is offline
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live trap

Hello,

I have also caught 12 feral cats and spay/neutered them (not including the over 50 kittens in the colony which I rehomed) with live traps.

Years ago, I became friends with my farmer neighbours and convinced them to let me try and deal with their cat overpopulation problem. They were doing it the by massive cull every two years. By drowning. YES. It's either that or shooting them around here.

The trap is quick and dirty, traumatic for sure, but it works. And it's true about cats freaking out in the trap, it's hard to hang on to it when the are flailing around in there. It's pretty upsetting for the humans too. Always move slowly, gently talking quietly to the cat the whole time. Cover the trap with a blanket. Like all wild animals, if they can't see, it will calm them down enough to keep them from hurting themselves. (BTW this works really well with wild birds).

Between the very irritated poor farmers that didn't understand wasting good $$$ on fixing cats to the very clever raccoons, it wasn't easy!

Those raccoons would manage to carefully pull out the food from the side without even setting off the trap!

I had an arrangement with the vet that he would work on them immediately when I brought them in. After the first time he pulled the cat out of the trap and had his arms ripped to shreds, he began using these leather gloves up to the shoulders for such purposes. Never underestimate a cornered animal that thinks it's fighting for it's life. He would return the cat to the trap while still sedated, and back to the farm they went to live out their days in peace.

This I can guarantee, as I became friends with the farmers and helped them take care of their animals (which included re-homing a cow & a pony to better lives and personally taking on the daily care of the 33 year old Morgan Stallion they refused to part with…but that's another story…).

In the end, some of those cats eventually became the farms house cats, and the rest lived in the barn. There is no longer a cat over population problem, and they agreed not to get any more farm animals.

Animal abuse in poverty stricken rural areas…it's unbelievable. And there are ZERO resources. I was in for a big shock coming from the city to the country, with my big city ideas about rescue. The reality is much more complicated. Even for a vegan like me.

Anyways, that's my live trap story!

Ciao.
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  #3  
Old June 20th, 2008, 09:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amaya View Post
I had an arrangement with the vet that he would work on them immediately when I brought them in. After the first time he pulled the cat out of the trap and had his arms ripped to shreds, he began using these leather gloves up to the shoulders for such purposes. Never underestimate a cornered animal that thinks it's fighting for it's life. He would return the cat to the trap while still sedated, and back to the farm they went to live out their days in peace.
One question - why would the vet not use the trap to put the cat under and then take the cat out when it was asleep? Much easier and the vet doesn't get hurt.
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We can stick our heads in the sand for only so long before it starts choking us. Face it folks. The pet population is bad ALL OVER THE WORLD!
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Old June 21st, 2008, 08:15 AM
amaya amaya is offline
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you're right

Hi 14+kitties,

You are absolutely right of course. I didn't go into all the details because my story already seemed long enough!

Well some of those cats, I did manage to catch with just a regular cat carrier trapping method similar to what catsnatcher described. The ones in the trap, yes, sedation was possible through the bars. Although that was not so easy either.

My goal every day was to try and trap more than one at a time and I only had one live trap. This helped me with the vet costs if I could bring more than one in at a time (and the time I was able to devote to this, as my daughter was just 2yrs old at the time). Lot's of back and forth to the farm resetting empty traps (thanks to the raccoons!), lying in wait for an hour, leaving, coming back a few hours later and on and on until it was done) I would lie in wait for hours sometimes. There were days of no success. This whole process (including catching all the kittens) took about two weeks.

This was seperate of finding homes for the kittens of course (out of the 50+ kittens, I only managed to place 4 locally, the rest, I found homes in Toronto with help from friends. A few people also helped with the vet costs).

The few cats I caught in the carrier were the ones that had already made some progress towards trusting me enough to let me be close by while the checked out the food in the carrier. Then I would sneak up & close the door. Sounds awful and I felt terrible, but the alternative was worse. I was under a lot of pressure to succeed.

But the cats were really upset and on the other end at the vets office. Pulling the cat out of the carrier was how the vet tech got hurt. Of course his rough macho attitude didn't help…

Those were the first attempts. We all did get better at it as we went along.
By the way, a few things more. I had the best success with sardines as bait; also the best time to catch the cats was night time. Often the cats would be in the trap in the morning having gone in sometime through the night when the farm was quiet and everyone was asleep.

CATSNATCHER; I am so impressed with your experience with over 50 cats!!! What a lot of hard work and dedication. You are amazing!
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Old June 21st, 2008, 03:50 PM
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The ones in the trap, yes, sedation was possible through the bars. Although that was not so easy either.

Actually, the vets I have dealt with with my ferals say it is pretty easy. Just put a blanket (which ideally would be covering the trap when it is brought in to calm kitty) over the trap and gas is piped in. Then when kitty is sedated it is easy to remove. They just ask for a carrier to be brought in so kitty doesn't have to go back in trap.

Just for future reference if you are working with the same vet. A full stomach can result in vomiting and aspiration while under anaesthetic. Probably not really a great idea IMO to have vet operate right away. I sincerely hope that vet tech is no longer working if that is the way he was extracting cats from carriers. He deserved every scratch he got IMO!

Congratulations on a fantastic record of capture/neuturing/release! Great to hear success stories!!
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Assumptions do nothing but make an ass out of u and me.

We can stick our heads in the sand for only so long before it starts choking us. Face it folks. The pet population is bad ALL OVER THE WORLD!

Last edited by 14+kitties; June 21st, 2008 at 04:19 PM.
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  #6  
Old June 21st, 2008, 05:24 PM
amaya amaya is offline
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rural vets

The vets situation around here is terrible. We went from 3 vets to 1. Two of those vets took care of large animals (farm) as well as cats & dogs. One retired, one moved away. So no large animal vets in a rural area…
The one that is left, that I took the cats to, started off being a really nice person, spent a lot of time, seemed to care. Now he seems burnt out and grumpy all the time. Just churning them out. Plus he services the ever increasing puppy mill industry in our area.

Your vets sound great!
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Old July 14th, 2009, 10:30 AM
andalusian andalusian is offline
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Trapping feral or stray cats

Hey.

Thanks for all the advice on trapping. It's good to hear from like-minded individuals, and I am encouraged by the person who has been trapping for a while, trial and error, finally getting the mother, or the source of all the kitties.

Right now, I've bought cages, two cages. Cages work for socializing, I find. Just place them with the kittens in the middle of a room full of humans (children), a dog or two and cats, and those kittens will probably become domesticated. However, last year we failed to capture the mother. Now it's either her or more likely one from her second litter who has had kitties. I've put out two cages, one more petit. What I'm afraid of now is, with all the rain, a couple of the kittens appeared ill (rhumy or possibly worse - hard to tell from where I was - white patches around his/her eyes and nose). I'm trying not to worry about it, because what is one to do, that's life, etc. I had wanted to capture all the cats together in the cage (closing with the pull of a string), but that's not going to be possible. Now I got closer to the mother and one kitten, who was then hissed at by his/her mother. So I guess it's time to catch them and try to find some vet near Montreal or on the North shore who will fix them for little. We're thinking we'll have to let these cats go afterwards. We simply can't keep them in the (not enough space with a dog and 3 cats who might piss over everything with newcomers) and all the shelters are full. The kittens are about 3-4 mos. old. If there's any advice out there. I might have to get the mother and a kitten at a time. I'm just worried about the consequences to the kittens who are not caught with the mother, if they're sick, etc...One more point, I haven't found A THING on capturing a family. Obviously you can't use a trap, and there's nothing out there about what to do if you get the mother and not all of the babies. I'm just "praying" that they will eventually come out, looking for food, and that they're feeling better. Also, soooo worried about the song birds with all the stray cats around here. I try not to let mine out (a couple of our kitties are from the litter we captured last year).
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Old July 16th, 2009, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amaya View Post
By drowning. YES. It's either that or shooting them around here.
You make it sound like it is legal to drown or shoot an animal. Drowning is illegal and depending on the circumstances of shooting an animal/how it is shot/left injured, etc, it could also be illegal as well. Do you know have a Humane Society in the area. I know if you live up north, there are HS that cover HUGE areas. I know a girl who works for a HS up north and her area, it can take her up too 3 hours driving time just to get to a call. Yes, it is limited resources, but you have resources. Or how about calling the police department.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andalusian View Post
If there's any advice out there. I might have to get the mother and a kitten at a time. I'm just worried about the consequences to the kittens who are not caught with the mother, if they're sick, etc...One more point, I haven't found A THING on capturing a family. Obviously you can't use a trap, and there's nothing out there about what to do if you get the mother and not all of the babies. I'm just "praying" that they will eventually come out, looking for food, and that they're feeling better. Also, soooo worried about the song birds with all the stray cats around here. I try not to let mine out (a couple of our kitties are from the litter we captured last year).
I would try to confine the kittens first, then mom. The kittens will not survive out by themsleves, for it is the mom who teaches them how to hunt, and overall survive. What we do at work is if we have a mom and kittens, we always try to get mom and babies at the same time, however that doesn't always happen. What we do is confine the kittens, put them into a cage and place the cage behind a live humane trap.

More so then not, the mom will go into the trap trying to get to her babies. Now when live trapping it has to be monitiored every half hour-hour. We do this methored for a few hours, 2-3 hours. If the mom has not been caught in the trap during this time, we bring the kittens to the shelter, and then try to catch mom the next day. Usually mom will only come around another 2 days after to find her babies...then usually doesn't come back.

But the kittens should be your first prioity. Mom can always be caught later.


ACO22

Last edited by NoahGrey; July 16th, 2009 at 09:36 AM.
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Old July 16th, 2009, 10:27 AM
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Are you putting out cages or traps? Sorry, I am a little confused by that.
If you have a live trap, or two, they are much preferable when you are trying to trap a feral cat. You can always transfer the cat to a cage after if that is your inclination.
You said the kittens are three to four months? If that is the case they will be fine if mom is trapped first as long as you are/have been feeding them. The kittens won't go that far away from food. I have caught mom one night, removed her, and then caught two, even three kittens at a time in a live trap within a few hours of trapping mom.
Yes, it takes patience. Lots of patience. Two of my ferals were three years before I caught them. It can be done. Good luck.
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Old July 16th, 2009, 12:05 PM
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I don't think that amaya is making it sound like it is legal to drown or shoot an animal. It is just a reality in rural areas.
Here on the farms where I live, there is no way of knowing which farmers are quickly and quietly drowning surplus kittens in the water buckets in their barns.
The bodies are then dumped with the daily manure into the manure lagoon.
It is sickening to think about, but it is happening.
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Old July 16th, 2009, 12:17 PM
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AC022 - Don't know if you noticed but that post from amaya was over a year ago. I don't think they've been on since.
Unfortunately it does happen. Not only on farms. I had an idiot customer tell me the other day he was going to put kittens into a plasic bag and attach it to his car exhaust. He said it was a son who mated with the mother cat so that's why he was doing it. I need my job or he would have gotten an ear full.

Last edited by 14+kitties; July 16th, 2009 at 12:28 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old July 16th, 2009, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 14+kitties View Post
AC022 - Don't know if you noticed but that post from amaya was over a year ago. I don't think they've been on since.
Unfortunately it does happen. Not only on farms. I had an idiot customer tell me the other day he was going to put kittens into a plasic bad and attach it to his car exhaust. He said it was a son who mated with the mother cat so that's why he was doing it. I need my job or he would have gotten an ear full.

No 14Kitties, I didn't notice *lol* I know it happens, but it still makes it illegal and should be proceeded accordingly. And I hear ya, it's so frustating. I can think of a number of things to do to people like this.

ACO22
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Old July 31st, 2009, 02:31 PM
amaya amaya is offline
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the 'illegality' of our inhumanity

Hello,

Actually I check in quite a bit, but rarely contribute.

Illegal to kill cats inhumanely? Really. Tell that to the people using all the feral cats around here as target practice. Even better. Ask the police to come help the cats. See what response you get. NOTHING.

There needs be some education around animal welfare here, as everywhere. There also needs to be some education around how urban rescuers judge those of us doing rescue in rural areas. The rescue I belong to ~ we try to keep where we each live a secret. But still, we get cats dumped at our private homes, that we can't adopt out. We offer one of the most innovative spay and nueter subsidy programs anywhere. Doesn't make a difference.

Out in the country, animal rescue really targets you in the public eye. That is no small thing when all the folk around you own guns, and your survival depends on getting along with them. I have twice had a drunk neighbour show up in the middle of the night, wanting to 'talk' about my crazy tree hugging, animal lover ways.

Did I call the cops? NO. It would have taken them 45 minutes to get here. And it wouldn't have done anything other than make the situation worse.

They hunt on my property. Can't do anything about it. By the time the warden comes out, if they bother, there is nothing to see.

I had a friend confront some deer hunters that were on his property. They shot the deer right in front of the family. My friend went out and wrestled the gun out of the hunters hands. My friend was then charged with assault.

Anyways, it's just that I sometimes find some peoples comments here really naive and judgemental of others.

We should be able to share our experiences without having someone jump down someones throat. This closes down dialogue and keeps the discussions very internal and cleeky.

How are we to learn from each other to better this world for all if we close down the possibility of new people contributing what they can, how they can, and being welcomed to be part of the conversation?

Having said all that, I find the rescue that I read about here to be truly inspiring. There are some huge hearts out there, and the world is a better place for them all.

Sorry to rant.
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Old July 31st, 2009, 03:39 PM
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Yup, life in the bush/agriculture areas is very different from the suburbs.
We don't hike in the woods during hunting season, and we know our boundaries.
Some people aren't quite civilized yet....sad, but true.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 08:42 PM
chilli1327 chilli1327 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amaya View Post
Hello,

Actually I check in quite a bit, but rarely contribute.

Illegal to kill cats inhumanely? Really. Tell that to the people using all the feral cats around here as target practice. Even better. Ask the police to come help the cats. See what response you get. NOTHING.

There needs be some education around animal welfare here, as everywhere. There also needs to be some education around how urban rescuers judge those of us doing rescue in rural areas. The rescue I belong to ~ we try to keep where we each live a secret. But still, we get cats dumped at our private homes, that we can't adopt out. We offer one of the most innovative spay and nueter subsidy programs anywhere. Doesn't make a difference.

Out in the country, animal rescue really targets you in the public eye. That is no small thing when all the folk around you own guns, and your survival depends on getting along with them. I have twice had a drunk neighbour show up in the middle of the night, wanting to 'talk' about my crazy tree hugging, animal lover ways.

Did I call the cops? NO. It would have taken them 45 minutes to get here. And it wouldn't have done anything other than make the situation worse.

They hunt on my property. Can't do anything about it. By the time the warden comes out, if they bother, there is nothing to see.

I had a friend confront some deer hunters that were on his property. They shot the deer right in front of the family. My friend went out and wrestled the gun out of the hunters hands. My friend was then charged with assault.

Anyways, it's just that I sometimes find some peoples comments here really naive and judgemental of others.

We should be able to share our experiences without having someone jump down someones throat. This closes down dialogue and keeps the discussions very internal and cleeky.

How are we to learn from each other to better this world for all if we close down the possibility of new people contributing what they can, how they can, and being welcomed to be part of the conversation?

Having said all that, I find the rescue that I read about here to be truly inspiring. There are some huge hearts out there, and the world is a better place for them all.

Sorry to rant.
I know that this is an older post, but I read about your spay/neuter program. I live in Woodstock and I am on a limited budget so I am looking for an affordable place to have my cat spayed. Every where I look it is in the region of 200 for this service. I am not saying that this is not fair, don't really know, but it is something I cannot afford. I live in an apartment, so it is not a really big issue, but going throught the heat process with her drives me crazy sometimes. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
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