How To Trap Feral Cats? – Part 1

Last post about ferals were about kittens. And today we will talk about trapping feral cats. Trapping ferals is important if you want to Trap-neuter-return them. I will split this in 3 parts. I will also link to the Alley Cat Allies website to specific things that are important to know.

Because feral cats never or barely had any contact with humans, they are fearful, and they cannot be adopted. Tho, I do believe — personally — that there is always a way to make feral cats so-called “House-cats”. But the outdoors is their home.

If you want to help feral cats, you need to trap-neuter-trap them. This program ends reproduction, stabilizes feral cat populations, and improves individual cats’ lives. The behavior and stress associated with mating— pregnancy, yowling, and fighting— will stop.

What is Trap-Neuter-Return?

Trap: Humanely trap all the cats in a colony (a group of cats living outdoors together).

Neuter: Take the cats in their traps to a veterinarian or clinic to be neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped (a universal symbol indicating they have been neutered).

Return: Return the cats to their original outdoor home.

Since 1990, Alley Cat Allies has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals and local organizations worldwide improve the lives of feral cats by providing guidance on how to implement Trap-Neuter-Return, and educating communities about the benefits of the program. This guide will show you how easy it is to help cats in your community. Armed with your new knowledge, you will be able to join thousands of other people working to improve the lives of feral cats! Thank you Alley Cat Allies!

Only use a humane box trap to trap a feral cat this means that you will and shall never use darts, tranquilizers or nets to attempt to catch a cat. These methods are dangerous and stressful to the cats, they are cats, not prisoners. Take a look at Ally Cat Allies’ equip list.

Don’t Pick Up A Feral Cat
Never attempt to pick up a feral cat (such as when you put her in a carrier or trap). No matter how sweet she seems, or innocent she looks like, handling a cat who has never or barely been touched will become scared and she will stress out. She may struggle to get away and harm you in the process. With no vaccination records, she is bound to be killed or put into quarantine — and you don’t want that. That’s why you have to use the correct trapping practices, to make sure you both are safe, and no one will get hurt.

Setting up a trap.

Targeted Trapping
Keep in mind that your trapping will be most effective if you use targeted trapping. Learn more about Targeted Trapping.

Feral cats are fearful of people in general. This could mean that feral cats may feel even more frightened and threatened when faced with a new experiences, new things. For example, being trapped and taken to a vet (not-feral cats tend to do this too). Feral cats will not show or let us know their needs if they are in pain, hurt or frightened. Instead they will trash about when they are in carriers, or they may “shut down”. It’s important that you stay quiet, calm and conscious of the cat’s well-being during the trapping.

Be Smart
No trapping effort is exactly the same. A colony’s location—a college campus, a warehouse, a farm, an alley, a small business parking lot— will have other elements for you to consider. For instance, you may need to work with college administrators, connect with other caregivers, or make sure you have enough traps and vehicles for a large colony. So maybe don’t go alone?

Before the Trapping
Make sure you’re known or even practiced the Trap-Neuter-Return process and plan your trapping days in advance to ensure the safety and well-being of the cats and reduce your own stress.

  • Coordinate with other caregivers who may be feeding the cats, and prepare the cats for trapping by feeding on a schedule and in a designated feeding area.
  • Determine how many traps and neuter appointments you will need to schedule after assessing the colony.
  • Determine a safe, temperature-controlled location where you will be able to hold the cats after surgery while they recover.
  • Gather and prepare all of the appropriate equipment and understand how it all works ahead of time—and practice! It is important to test all traps, to ensure that the trip plate works.
  • Withhold food 24 hours before trapping, and you are ready to start trapping.

Go to our Before You Trap section on the Alley Cat Allies site to read more about Before You Trap.


  • On the day-of, prepare the traps by lining the bottom with newspaper, tagging with a location description, and baiting.
  • Set the traps and watch them from afar.
  • Once a cat is trapped, cover the trap – this will help keep the cat calm.
  • Ahead of time, learn how to deal with particularly hard-to-trap cats.
  • After securing the traps in your vehicle, head to the veterinarian or clinic for surgeries that day or the following day.

Go to our Trapping section to learn more about these steps on the Alley Cat Allies website.

Post Surgery

  • After surgery, keep the cats in the trap at all times.
  • Transport the cats safely back to your secure, indoor location where cats will be in a temperature-controlled environment, dry, and away from danger.
  • Monitor the cats for any illness.
  • For your safety and the cats keep them in their covered cages at all times.
  • Feed the cats eight hours or so after surgery and return the cats.
  • Return the cats to the exact location where they were trapped.
  • Clean the traps.

Read more about this here and here.

Everything is from Alley Cat Allies.
So all information about TNR’ing, trapping etc can be found there.
If you’re interested in it, I suggest you take a look!

Pictures by Animal Coalition of Tampa, and,

18 Responses to “How To Trap Feral Cats? – Part 1”

  1. FeyGirl

    Thanks for posting… If everyone helped in this cause, their situation would be so much better (our county suffers extreme feral / stray feline overpopulation — many simply rounded up and put to death). The kitties I’ve TNR’d never took to the humane traps, but the drop-traps *always* work like a charm!

    • Dianda

      Luckily Holland doesn’t suffer much from feral or stray cats. Yet, it is important to TNR! But it takes a lot of time and money. :(

      • FeyGirl

        NO KIDDING. I don’t want to tell you how much I’ve spent… With no help from our complaining neighbors.

  2. L. Murray

    Nice article. However, the picture you got from Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Advocacy for Animals is actually–at the credit at the bottom of our page says– © Animal Coalition of Tampa.

  3. Long Life Cats and Dogs

    So great that you are getting this information out there. I get asked about this quite frequently and it is amazing how many people want to help the feral cats but don’t know how to go about it, so this is fantastic info to spread.

    • Dianda

      I think it’s good to know! Even if you don’t have ferals around. Like in my street, we have a lot of outside cats, who sleep inside in their owners house at night, and get fed and stuff. Yet, they are terrified of humans!

  4. Tex

    This is really good information. You have a nice blog. :) My humans live on a farm, where there are feral cats, but when my owner grew up, when she turned 11 or 12, she got interested in those cats and started taming the feral kittens she could spot. One of those kittens is now a full grown cat which is like any other cat in her presence, but for all others he’s a feral one. There are also two others, my cousins actually. :) They are both girls, but not sterilized. :( My owner will do that when she gets a job and can pay for it. Though we haven’t seen them in two months. They come and go.

  5. National Feral Cat Day | Cats & Co

    […] to approach a stray or feral cat? The Stray Cat Strut – Tips about feral cats and what to do. How To Trap Feral Cats part 1, part 2, part 3 – The how to trap feral cats – series. Feral Kittens – Everything […]


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