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Tips Of Trapping Stray?

suh

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Young Cat
Jul 13, 2017
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Hi, I've been working on trapping stray kitties at the back of our building. There are three in total, two friendlies, and one highly cautious of ppl and traps. I'm not sure if they are bonded but they tend to stick together. I already got 1 of the friendlies extremely easily. I could have gotten the other friendly too multiple times but I didn't want to leave the cautious one by herself. I don't want to risk the chance of her not showing up after losing both her friends and that she will have to live all alone.

So, I tried drop trap probably 3-4 times during our usual feeding time, the cautious one would not come near the trap whatsoever. The one time she approached the trap, she sort of growled and will not come near again. I withheld food for 2 days, tried tuna, tried sardines, smelly wet food. She just won't have it. (On the other hand, the friendly one would sit and watch me set up the trap then walk in to eat) I think she may have experience with drop trap before.

Box trap for me is out of the question because I can't leave the trap out. Some ppl in my building do not like cats. And I don't want them both to walk in the same trap together and end of hurting themselves.

I'm not sure what to do. My plan at the moment is to carry a carrier with me every time I go to feed. Once they get used to the appearance of carrier, I will slowly move the food closer and closer to the carrier, then inside the carrier, to see if they would go in to eat. Then finally once they are in, close the door. I feel like this will take a very long time to complete and I'm a little strained on time. Any tips or idea?

Also, is there a big enough transfer cage or carrier that can comfortably fit 2 medium-sized kitties? I have the petmate medium carrier, I find a little small for the two. But the bigger ones I found are kennels that don't have a handle and I can't very well carry out on my own. Thanks!
 

FeebysOwner

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Jun 13, 2018
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I would spend time with the friendly one, getting to the point that she lets you pet her and giving her treats while doing so - and let the cautious one watch. This worked with two strays that showed up in my neighbor's back yard. The two were pretty inseparable. The "older" one took a week or two to do what your friendly one is doing, and it took another month or so to get the "younger" one just to stop running in the other direction every time my neighbor went outdoors.

After another month, the younger one started watching my neighbor interacting with the older one, and eventually allowed my neighbor to touch her ever so slightly.

Unfortunately, the older one got pregnant and we had to get them trapped. But, it was much easier to do once the younger one was at least semi-accepting of my neighbor. My neighbor used two separate carriers, and trapped the less friendly one first.
 
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kittychick

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I'm glad you've come back to this site - - lots of great people with lots of experience in every kind of situation! So hopefully we'll find someone who fits yours to a "T" - or at least can piece a bunch of us together and come up with an answer!

First I'll echo the question FeebysOwner FeebysOwner asked - - -are you planning on getting them spay/neutered and then finding homes for (or giving a home yourself) to the 2 friendly kitties? Those 2 sound like they could be easily worked with into becoming full-time indoor kitties (they sound more like strays then ferals). And then doing TNR on the one who's quite frightened? Is it possible he can be socialized? If not - will you (or anyone) be providing this one (or all 3) with shelter and food/water? I know it sounds like you're in a tough, very non-friendly cat area, which makes things harder. It's certainly better to do TNR on the 3 then do nothing (and THANK YOU SOOOO much for caring this much about these furry ones!) - - -but if they do go back out into the world to try to make it, it changes their chance of survival ENORMOUSLY to have access to warm, safe shelter, and clean water and nutritious food. And someone who cares for them - - -which sounds like you're perfect for that job! :)

Getting any cat that's fearful at all into a cat carrier is tough. Your way - - getting them used to food being in there is your best shot - - but generally they're so "enclosed" that cats' feel very nervous about going into a carrier. I know that virtually every social, well-loved kitty we've ever had has been frightened about going into a carrier. We use the "laser pointer's a bug - catch it!" game and get kittens (especially kittens, with their strong play sense and less strong common sense) to go into carriers - - works 99 times out of 100! It's certainly worth a try with your 3!

I wouldn't leave anything out there without you w/in sight. I never leave a trap unattended. And we use canned mackerel as a big, stinky treat (not "big" in the sense of tons of mackerel - big in the sense of they smell it from miles around!). It's what we've lured our toughest cases in with.

Hopefully that answered a bit of your question. I've got to run out the door (guess why - to feed cats!) - but wanted to weigh in before I left. I'll check in later and answer more of your questions unless someone else has already done so!
 
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suh

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Young Cat
Jul 13, 2017
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Thanks so much for the replies!

I'm trapping them for adoption. The cats are actually already neutered when I found them looking for food in our building garbage. I was going to leave them that way and just keep feeding them every day, but some ppl from our building hate strays and aren't ok with me caring for them. Since I know two of the kitties are ppl friendly(they fight for affection and ask for scratches), I reached out to a rescue and they are willing to help me with placing the cats. The fearful one will go to a barn if she is not sociable. I also have a friend of a friend who is up for adopting one of the kitties. So the only thing in the way is trapping. The friend is looking to adopt asap so I don't really want to lose her as a potential adopter :frustrated:

Getting any cat that's fearful at all into a cat carrier is tough.
This is what I'm worried about, especially the carrier I have is a bit too small for 2 cats. I had it too easy with the first friendly(she walked right into the carrier when I placed the food inside, and acclimate to indoor life in just 1 night :rolleyes2:) now I get to know what trapping really is like.

I will try to spend more time with them and interact with the 2nd friendly one more. Also the snacks and laser. :please:
 

moxiewild

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Aug 4, 2014
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I was going to mention the laser as well. It's really great for fearful kittens in particular because

1. The play drive that kittychick mentioned

2. You can do it at a safe distance and with very little movement so it won't scare off the little one.

If that doesn't work, I've just done the same thing I've done with other cats - play with the friendly one with a regular wand toy in front of the skittish one. She be scared and run away in the beginning, but she will watch and observe, and eventually want to join. It may take one attempt, it may take a few. It's worth a shot, play therapy works wonders with skittish cats.

How close can you actually get to the frightened one? If you can at least work your way up to a reasonable closeness, don't forget that a fishing net pole is also an option if things become desperate.

Have you tried catnip? Mackerel? Fried chicken? I have surprising luck with PureBites freeze dried chicken treats sometimes.

Feliway spray and wipes on the trap can also help for some kitties.

You didn't mention whether you've tried covering or camouflaging the trap?
 
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suh

TCS Member
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Young Cat
Jul 13, 2017
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The fearful one reacted so much better towards carrier, doesn't seem to mind it half as much as the traps. I'll try the catnip definitely. Will check out the Mackarel and something similar to fried chicken. We don't have a KFC around here. I can make boiled chicken breast, but it probably won't smell as strongly

The place where I feed is very empty, and there's no where to camouflage the traps. I tried putting a big blanket over it, but it was kind of too late and she already knows, haha:sweat:
 

moxiewild

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Aug 4, 2014
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If she is taking to the carrier more, then go with that! Some cats just do better with things other than a box trap, whether it's a drop trap, carrier, or wire dog crate.

We don't have KFC here either, although we have a somewhat similar place called Churches. I've used KFC when trapping in bigger cities, and I haven't noticed a difference between that and Churches - I suspect fried chicken is fried chicken for kitties. So if you can find that at your grocery store, a local restaurant, or figure out how to make some, it will probably work just as well as KFC!

I can't imagine boiled chicken would be as effective, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't work by any means!

To be honest, I've used things like french fries, tator tots, hamburger meat, hot dogs, tacos (no sauces or spices), etc, from fast food places when I've been desperate and forced to work within time constraints. Whatever I can get that smells strongly and is warm. I have two cats who go crazy for french fries so I just figured... why not? I just wipe off any salt/grease and order things as plain as possible.


Camouflaging can be as simple as placing leaves and dirt at the bottom of the trap or carrier, while also possibly covering the trap as well (either all three sides + the back, or just the three sides, making the back end look more like an exit). A lot of kitties just don't like or trust walking on that wire, but are also weary about things like newspaper and cardboard.
 
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suh

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Jul 13, 2017
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Thanks, that's a lot of helpful info! Why didn't I ever think of using fast food to entice them? I tried just boiled chicken this morning with the chicken soup warm in friskies, and I think I might just succeed in getting the fearful one this week! She went halfway into the carrier, once, but I mean she can only get better from here. I just need to get something that smells even more delicious. and if I can get a slightly bigger carrier with a bigger door, so they can walk in together....dreaming big lol
 

moxiewild

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Aug 4, 2014
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S suh That's awesome! It does sound like you're almost there!

This part - when taking a manual approach (closing something yourself rather than relying on a trip plate) - can sometimes be a bit trying in terms of NOT rushing once you finally get close.

I can't recall, do you have any cats at home? If you do, and have one who's laid back enough, it can be helpful to practice with them. It's not a perfect simulation since a cat relaxed enough to do this won't try to escape if they hear or see what's happening - but it will still give you an idea of when the time to close the door is.

If no kitty, I would still practice. I know that sounds really stupid - you obviously know how to close a carrier door - but try to visualize kitty going in and really pay attention to what you're doing.

In fact, whether you practice with another kitty or not, you should do this - pay attention to the speed at which you close the carrier, how much noise you're making, how much force you're exerting, and how much control you have. Once you find the right speed/force/control/noise level, just do that over and over to really get a feel for it. (And place something in the carrier that is about the same weight as one kitty for better accuracy).

It can be easy in the moment to get overly excited, which can lead to careless mistakes.

I've seen someone close the door so forcefully they actually pushed the carrier back just a teensy tiny bit, leaving just enough of a gap for just long enough for kitty to take her by surprise and escape. (For extra precaution, I now always place something heavy on top of a carrier to help prevent this)

I've also jumped the gun and closed the door on a kitty's tail before... this can lead to kitty being hurt and adds unnecessary stress of the situation for both of you.

It can also take you by surprise when you realize what's happened. It often causes you to automatically react by letting up on the door, and it can be enough to not only free kitty's tail, but give kitty an opportunity to push her way out. (Practicing with a real kitty can help give you a better sense of how to avoid this).

I've also been overly eager and slammed it shut as quickly as possible without having good enough control over the door, leading to the door just barely bouncing off the carrier and allowing for that brief gap that is all kitty needs for escape (cats are extremely fast when they need to be!).

You want to ensure there really are no gaps when you close, other than what's there by the door being unlatched. And make sure you're using enough pressure to hold it closed until you lock it - not just enough to keep it closed, but enough to resist if kitty decides to try and ram her way out (I've seen someone lose a cat by not being prepared enough for forceful ramming).

The vast majority of the time, it really is as simple as it seems and there are no issues. But nerves in the moment or over-confidence can get in the way just enough for mistakes to happen. So it's always a good idea to practice - swift, controlled movements are what you want.



How close can you be to the carrier right now for her to go in?

How big is the carrier you have?

How big are the cats?

What are you going to be doing with them after trapping? As in, how long will they be in the carrier for?

If they're only going to be confined in there briefly, like for transportation, they can go in there together. Just be sure to cover the crate to make sure the timid one remains calm.
 
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suh

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Jul 13, 2017
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moxiewild moxiewild no, I totally get your reply. That is exactly how I felt when the fearful one walked in. I was honestly vibrating with nerves and excitement while having an internal battle of whether I should just push her a little and slam the door. I think she felt all my emotions, haha.

I practiced with them some more today. They are still pretty cautious while in the carrier but were in there together at one point. The fearful one is a little (maybe I can say much more?) comfortable with me now. I get them to go in by situating the carrier right beside me while holding the door open and the carrier down with one hand, then let them smell the food and watch me put it inside the carrier. I tested out closing the door slightly a few times today, but they can definitely sense the movement and will jump back out. By the way they back out, I know that if I can't somehow hold the door close or latch it in time, I will fail and they won't trust the carrier again. You are definitely right about practicing.

The carrier is also not big enough for their tails to go in, about 1/2 of their tails still hang outside even when they walk in completely. I really need to let them get to the point where they are soo comfortable with the carrier that they stop paying attention...maybe with a combo of withholding half the food, good food, and time :\

I have the Petmate medium carrier. I'm thinking about getting the Petmate Vari Dog & Cat Kennel medium size....last time I accidentally got the Intermediate, it was wayyyy too big to carry and has no top handle..

The cats are medium sized. They somewhat fill the Petmate medium carrier when they both go in, so it would be a little difficult for them to turn or do anything inside.

Once I get them into the carrier, I'll be taking them directly to the rescue's holding space. So just for transport!
 

moxiewild

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Aug 4, 2014
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S suh Yes, I've trapped a lot but I always get a huge rush of nerves every single time still. I assumed that would fade away over time, but for me it hasn't!

Practicing doesn't fix everything, but it does help. There are certain things you don't necessarily think of until you're in the moment. So sometimes just practicing and going through the motions can help to bring some of the potential issues to light beforehand so you can prepare and plan how you might respond to those issues if they occur. Otherwise, you really are left to decide in the moment and nerves make that difficult.

So, a bigger/longer carrier will likely help with the tails, rendering it a nonissue.

However, there is a chance they won't take to the new carrier immediately. But the good news is, getting them accustomed to the new carrier will go a lot faster than it did with the first carrier. It's also very possible it won't be an issue at all for them, or only very little hesitancy initially the first time or two.

I would say, either get the longer carrier, or just practice a little longer with them going all the way in.

How quickly do they back out? Is it too quick for you to push their tails in with the carrier door if you're careful not to actually close the door on their tails?

If their tails aren't near the edge where the door closes, with how little you said is sticking out, you might just be able to close the door without issue, as the door would sort of push their tail in for them, if that makes sense.

It is GREAT that you are able to be right there the whole time! And it sounds like the fearful one is going all the way in?! You are going to get them any day now!

If you move the carrier door a bit and they back out, do they go back in? If so, doing this enough times over a couple of days without actually closing it will likely desensitize them to it. And you can close it a little more and a little more each time. But I would only suggest this if they tend to go back in the carrier after backing out.

If the carrier is just for transport, then you don't need to worry about the two of them being in there together. :)
 
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MoonstoneWolf

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Apr 15, 2019
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I'm kind of needing this for Sopdet (not that she needs to be fixed as she already has been) but for months she's watched me with Shaman and Treasure and she just will not trust me at all. She's going to be a tough one but I do want her to go to a vet for a check up. Of course I have the Mom situation so everything I do has to be done outside and away from her eyes.

And oddly these cats despise the laser toy. Guess they read the guide to cats and decided to do the opposite.
 
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suh

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Jul 13, 2017
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I got them! Thanks so much for all the advice moxiewild moxiewild and everyone!

The bigger carrier helped. I got them in 2 different carriers. Trapped the fearful one first then slowly coaxed the friendly into the other carrier. She turned cautious after she saw her friend taken away, but went in eventually haha. I was lucky, neither one bounced around when the door closed. They were a little slow to react, I don't think they've ever been in a carrier. Probably just the box trap so they weren't sure how it works.

Mackerel played a big part too:vibes:

Now I just have to take them to the rescue for vetting and adoption!
 

moxiewild

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Aug 4, 2014
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S suh That is awesome, I knew you’d get them! Now you can finally relax!

Thank you so much for your dedication. Don’t ever underestimate the enormous good you’ve just done for these kitties. You’ve given them a chance at a longer, happier, spoiled rotten life.

There are very few people who would have been willing to do this, especially taking the time you did to go about it so slowly. You should feel very good about yourself, I know we’re all very proud and grateful for what you’ve done! :)
 
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rgwanner

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Feb 1, 2017
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That is so great!!! And it is good that you have a rescue to take them. It is such a good feeling - I know. Feel good about yourself - not everyone would do that.
 
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