I wanted to do a post on specific traps and the pros and cons of each. I have used 3 different traps throughout the years.
The first trap I used was a Tomahawk Live Trap. It was designed for the trappings of raccoons, opossum and skunks. Yet it worked just fine for trapping quite a few feral cats. My wonderful neighbor loaned me this trap and his sister who has done TNR also used the trap. It was easy to use and did the job. I did have a little bit of operator error, the first time I trapped. I had previously zip tied the front door open as I was feeding a feral inside it so that he was used to the trap. On the morning of trapping, I was certain it was set properly. Yet, in went the cat and the door did not close. After resetting it, the door did close and inside Shadow went!! My only complaint with the trap is that when the cat steps on the trip plate, the front door slams quite loudly. It completely freaks out the cat.
I found that I needed to purchase my own trap as I was having so many cats appear. I purchased a Havahart trap that also was designed for rabbits, raccoons, opossum and skunks. Yet it was also suited for cats. The trap arrived unassembled and it was awfully difficult to put together. Thank goodness for youtube and an instructional video. Yet the first time I used it, a part fell off!! Fortunately it did not impact the trapping process or cause the cat to escape. This trap was very reasonably priced. Once I figured it out, I used it quite a few times. The other issue was the sensitivity. I needed to set it fairly sensitive so that if the cat stepped lightly on the trip plate it would still go off. Yet, placing it under the deck was a challenge as once it was placed and needed to be maneuvered, it often went off. It also was so loud. The bang it made once the cat stepped on the trip plate was enough to scare them senseless. I hated to see that happen. I also had a hard time feeding the cats in this trap. There was no rear door so I needed to either do my best to slide a round coffee filter with a bit on food on it into the trap or carefully drop bits of wet or dry food into the trap. Releasing the cat the next day was also more of a challenge. The cat was often banging against the door and it was hard to get it open fast enough.
I searched and searched for a more quiet trap. I found one online that looked promising, but the cost was more than I wanted to spend without trying it first. I really needed to speak with someone who had used this trap. I found just that person and she assured me that her rescue group used these traps and they would never use anything else. The traps were easy to set and also did not slam with a bang. So I bought the TruCatch LTD30. It took almost 3 weeks to arrive to me as the company sends them directly and it was summer and the demand was high. The trap was a dream come true. I set it up and tried it out on my indoor cat, Jake. He is highly food motivated and not afraid of much so I set the trap and placed a few treats inside. He immediately went inside and when the front door dropped, he didn’t even turn around. The front trap door, does not slam shut, it just drops. I also loved that there was a rear release and/or feeding door. I purchased the divider so I could easily feed the trapped cat after neutering. It was so much easier than trying to drop bits of wet food into the trap. I have used this trap a few times and each time, once the door dropped, the cat turned around, but the cat did not jump from fright. It did exactly what I had hoped. If I had to come up with a con, the only one would be the security of the back door. The door lifts up and can be hinged open. When you close it, it does not have a secure latch. The company provides a small carabiner to to keep the door from opening. As long as the carabiner is in place, the door is quite secure. Yet, if you forget, the cat could get a paw under the bottom of the door and squeeze themselves out. Here is a short video showing the Tru Catch trap in actions.
The next type of trap is a drop trap. A drop trap is a lightweight frame covered with netting made to catch feral cats. It is propped up on one side with a stick, and food is placed in the back. The trapper stands at a distance, holding a string attached to the stick. When the cats are eating, the trapper pulls the string, allowing the trap to drop, capturing the cats inside. The cat(s) are then transferred to a regular humane trap via a guillotine-style doors at the opposite side. The cats think it is an exit and usually go right inside the trap. I have never used one, but have watched countless videos. I had thought that it would be an option for me when I was having a hard time trapping both Patches and Hampton. Yet at the time I didn’t want the added expense. I also thought I would need help from someone who had experience using one. The initial closing of the trap is fairly easy, but transferring the cat to the humane trap seemed a bit more difficult. Yet, the idea of a drop trap is brilliant if you need to trap multiple cats or you have a very trap savvy cat. Here is a picture of one.
I also wanted to include this video that shows how one is used.
Trapping season is upon us. There are so many great traps available with prices in most peoples budgets. My advice is to start with the best you can afford. Be sure to practice over and over. Getting the sensitivity correct on the trap plates really makes a difference. I have also found that lining the trip with puppy pee pads is a preference to newspaper. Not only do the puppy pee pads make less noise than newspaper, they also work well when the cat pees! I found a pack of 4 at the Dollar Tree. Also be sure to have a light weight sheet or towel available to immediately cover the trapped cat. This will have a great calming effect on the cat. Keep the trap covered at all times.