Trapping Wary Cats

With a Little time and patience, you can train even wary cats to go into a wire trap.


Training all the cats in the colony to use your trap as a feeding station.
Although this technique is ideal for backyard cats, it's possible although more difficult when the cats eat in a very public spot.  The more time they have to spend with the trap, look it over, live with it, the better.  If at all possible, disable the trap so that evil-doers cannot use your trap for mischief - I generally use one with a removable door, and remove the door until I'm ready to trap.

Put the trap in the location where the cats normally feed or hang out, and tie the trap's trip door open (with a piece of string, a twist-tie, a pipe-cleaner).  Line the floor of the trap with cardboard.  Ideally, you should leave the trap in one place around the clock for days.  If you're concerned about the drap being stolen, then anchor it to something with a bicycle lock or similar.  Only feed in the trap while conditioning the cats to trust it.  You want all the cats to get used to eating from the trap.

Start off feeding with the food bowl placed at the open end of the trap (not at the back).  Once one or more of the cats are eating from the bowl in that position, move it further into the trap at the next feeding.  If no cat will touch the food in that position (in 12 hours, say) and they seem suspicious of the trap, you may need to start the bowl outside, but close to the trap.
ONE of the cats (or more) will get up the nerve to try it out. That cat will demonstrate to the others that it's safe. Once they're comfortable with eating from the bowl, at the next feeding, place it closer to the back of the trap. You don't need to wait until ALL are eating before moving it. Once they're all eating from the back of the trap, you're ready to make your vet appointment, and untie the trap door!

STEP 2: Controlling the box trap
In many cases, you want to pick out a particular cat to trap first, such as a female, or several of the cats might already be done and you'll want to avoid trapping (and scaring) these decoy cats. You can control the trap and pick out the cat you want - while still allowing the other cats to eat happily and without alarming them (the better to catch them later!). You can catch a mom with her kittens if they all eat together (use a large-ish trap and a plate or cake pan, above). In order to do this, you want to control the boxtrap's door.

1) Find a soda bottle or stick that's the right height to prop open the trap door. Get some cord - you'll want 30-50 feet, NOT "mason's line" which will stretch too much.
Untie the door and prop the door open with the bottle. You may need to put a weight on the trap if the door spring is very strong, or the trap is very light. Put the bottle to one side of the opening, braced against the trap, taking up as little of the opening as you can. You'll have a bigger, less slippery surface to work with if you put a paper/styrofoam coffee cup over the bottle.
2) Tie a string around the waist of the bottle
3) Put a bowl of food at the back of the box trap, and taking string in hand, back off as far as you need to so that the cats no longer take notice of you. You may be able to sit in your house or car, with a view of the trap. Ideally, you should be in a position where you're looking at the side of the trap, and somewhat to the rear of it. In this position, a cat eating from the trap will not be "tipped off" by seeing you move to yank the cord. Take up any slack in the cord, now.
4) wait for your target cat to eat. Other cats may eat first, and you can catch them later. If you have a very wary cat, don't do anything to scare her, like trapping a male cat that just happened to go in the trap first - you'll get him later! You don't have to wait until she gets all the way to the back, but don't jump the gun, or she'll be able to back out. You want her rear end to be 6 or 8 inches inside the trap, and let her settle, and then YANK the cord.
Remember - you must WAIT for her to get far enough in the trap and settle down. If she backs out because she's still nervous, she'll keep coming back - and you'll get a better opportunity, but if you scare her by tripping the trap too soon and she gets away, it may take her a while to try it again.