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trapping a feral cat

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  • trapping a feral cat

    I need some advice on trapping a feral cat in my barn, while hopefully NOT trapping my own barn cat or a different feral cat over and over. Bear with me, as this wound up longer than I intended.

    This particular cat doesn't come around often, and when he (she?) does, he doesn't bother me or my barn cat. However, he appears to have a very large wound on his neck. I call this kitty Port because we only catch him in our barn after a big storm. (You know, "any port in a storm!") Plus, he's red and we like red wine.

    But I digress...

    Anyway, while I had seen this cat around the property before, the first time I found him in the barn was after the big wave or storms / tornadoes that ran through the south a week or two ago. At that time, I noticed he had either a wound or huge scar on the side of his neck. I couldn't get close enough to him to see it and he kept that side turned away from me when he was laying down... so I had no way to see it clearly. I tried to get him into my tack room that day so I could call the vet -- but he disappeared before I could try to get him. I've seen him running around the property and nearby properties over the past couple of weeks, but he never stayed in one spot and I couldn't get anywhere near him. I found him in my barn again this morning after last night's big storm. I got a slightly better (but by no means good or long) look at his neck today. It didn't look like an old scar to me anymore, but something fresher and by now likely infected. Still, I can't be sure.

    He still won't let me near him, but I gave him a bowl of food in the hopes he will stick around so I can trap him over the next couple of days. I know he is feral, but I am willing to get him looked at by a vet to treat the wound or have him humanely euthanized if necessary. If it is a (relatively) recent wound and not a scar, it must be infected by now... I know he is a feral cat and these things happen, but I hate for him to suffer any longer than necessary.

    So... what type of trap do I need and any suggestions for trapping? I have a fearless barn cat that I would prefer not get trapped. There is also another feral cat I see on a regular basis that I fear might get into the trap instead. Is it just the risk I run that I will trap the wrong cat and have to reset the trap a few times? Also, should I set the trap in the barn (in the area where I catch him napping) or somewhere else? I fear if I set it outside, I'll wind up trapping a bunch of wild animals instead.

    Any other thoughts or advice appreciated. And yes, if he/she is successfully trapped and has a good prognosis, I will also him/her neutered or spayed before release.

  • #2
    We just caught our pest/feral cat, here's what we did:

    We used a havahart trap (the big one!). We started feeding him outside on the deck for a few days, no trap in sight, but where the trap was going to be eventually placed. After 2-3 days, put out trap, but did NOT set it and left the food in the trap. I think on day 5 or 6, we set the trap with food and BINGO. It was almost too easy!

    We always called our cats in when we set the food and trap out. Maybe you can keep your barn cat in a tack room/feed room for a few nights? We also worried about other wildlife getting caught (raccoons and such), but we somehow didn't have that issue. Does your local HS have a trap-fix-release program? Maybe if you do end up catching the other feral cat, you could take him in to get fixed. Or you can just toss his mooching butt back out! I would place your trap in areas where he has been known to hand around, but not out in the open (like the middle of an aisleway), maybe placing along a wall. I think we covered ours too, or we tried to...

    Happy trapping!


    • Original Poster


      Yes, if he is successfully trapped and will survive, we will definitely have him (or her) fixed before releasing.


      • #4
        You have a kind heart .
        I would try locking up your "wanted" cats while you set a trap baited with tunafish. You may be able to get a trap on loan from your local humane society. Otherwise go to Tractor Supply and for around $30 you can buy your own trap. Look for one that is the size to trap raccoons (there are usually pictures of the animals on or in the traps.
        Good luck, and be very careful when handling a trap with ANY feral cat inside it. There is truth in the old adage "There is nothing more dangerous than a trapped animal".
        "Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of passions." David Hume


        • Original Poster

          Thank you!

          I am planning to get some heavy duty gloves to handle the trap and to call ahead to the vet's office to make sure they are prepared for a feral cat. I have several vet options around here, so I am sure I can find one to treat this guy or girl. Should we cover the trap with a sturdy tarp or blanket before trying to pick it up?

          The feral cat problem really saddens me. I know you can't "save" them all, but if I can help this one, I'll try. I just feel terrible for this kitty. I had another feral cat that hung around my barn for a while, and we were just about to take him to the nearby Spay Day to have him fixed and get a rabies shot. He had become very friendly - and I was just able to pet him on a regular basis. I was sure we'd be able to pick him up and get him trapped to go to the next spay day when my husband found him dead on the side of the road, obviously hit by a car.

          We called him Pat. He hung around for a long time before we could get close, so we didn't know for months if he was male or female. So, my husband decided we should call it "Pat" like the SNL sketch.

          Here I go on a kitty tangent again... Sorry. Clearly I am easily distracted and now COTH probably thinks I am a crazy cat lady.

          Unfortunately, I am not certain Port will make it. I have to be realistic about it. If I saw what I thought I saw today, he has a very large, infected wound on his neck. He also isn't a kitty that is friendly enough we could handle on a regular basis for any treatments. I figure it is worth a shot to take him to the vet. At the very least, if he cannot survive, at least he will have a peaceful end. I don't want to get ahead of myself, though... I mean, he has had this wound for at least 2 weeks now and is still hanging in there. He looks no worse or better than the first time I saw him up close. At least if we can trap him, I can take a look at it for more than 1 second at a time and get a better idea of how bad it is...

          Thanks for the advice and suggestions, everyone!


          • #6
            Poor kitty.

            we trapped our feral cat by turning the outside temperature down to -30 celcius for a few weeks. This option may not work in all locations. I had thought about a trap if the weather warmed up and he was still loose....I didn't want to use a trap when it was that cold.

            Our cat decided our place with the free food was the place to be and after punching our dog in the face and not getting bitten....decided she was his BFF.

            Fortunately I had time to slowly get him used to me before finally picking him up and getting him to the vets to be neutered and vaccinated. He is now a house/barn cat, and our dog's shadow.

            I hope you are able to catch him; I wonder if his weakenned state may help you?

            Poor kitty.Good luck to you both!

            Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


            • #7
              Heavy gloves are always a good idea. But just be sure to only handle the handle on the trap. It should have a metal plate to protect your hand. Hold the trap WELL AWAY from your body and you should be able to transport him safely.
              Feral cats are a tragedy and an ecological disaster. Next to norway rats, no feral species causes more harm to the ecosystem and local native wildlife.
              Barn cats are a tradition and when they are sterilized I tend to let them be exceptions to my personal "No Cats Outdoors" rule.
              You are managing your barn cats well, at your own expense and I think you are doing a good thing.
              "Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of passions." David Hume


              • #8
                Originally posted by Phaxxton View Post

                Here I go on a kitty tangent again... Sorry. Clearly I am easily distracted and now COTH probably thinks I am a crazy cat lady.
                Psh, last summer I had two dumped cats, male and female. Their first litter was trapped at ~ten weeks old (when I first noticed them! Momma was good about keeping them hidden!) and they were relegated to my living room to be tamed, all five of them. There was a new feral cat who was trapped while trying to trap the parents, and she got dumped into my upstairs bathroom. Found the second litter of kittens (another five) at just a week old while moving the wood pile, and bottle fed them for a few days before (thank god!) finding a "pro" cat rescuer who would take them on as a project. Caught the dad, and he was locked in the mudroom. Literally ran the mother down, because she was paralyzed in her back end. Spent $500 on her at the emergency vet clinic on x-rays and pain meds before finding out her spine was shattered by a bullet (I still get viciously angry over that) and we had her put down. Had dad neutered, tossed him back out because he was an angry tom, and had the five kittens fixed and then rehomed them. Random barn cat was already fixed, and she got to come out of the bathroom and is now an indoor kitty. THANK GOD my local shelter does feral spays/neuters/shots at $50 a pop!

                This all happening in addition to a money-pit of a house cat being treated for a large cancerous tumor (put down a week before the poor mother cat) and the freakin' house bunny who needed an eye removed to the tune of $2k.

                So no. At least THIS COTHer doesn't think you're a crazy cat lady.

                In terms of baiting the trap, get the stinkiest food you can. Friskies in some sort of gravy, or tuna, or I've heard oyster juice (can in the drink aisle? never looked for it) drizzled over anything will work. Something to lure the cat in. My bet is that if he's already not feeling so hot, it will be pretty easy to catch him.

                And bless you for wanting to do something. It's amazing how many people just don't care. Even if his eventual fate is to be put down, it is better than having a rotting flesh wound and either being eaten or dying from infection.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks, Zarafia. I have one outdoor barn kitty we own - he's fixed, has his shots, and he came with the farm! The sellers were worried about the stress of re-locating him when they moved, so we agreed to keep him. He is such a sweet cat, very friendly.

                  I also have two indoor-only cats, as that is how I generally prefer my cats. However, the barn cat earns his keep and serves a function, so he is my exception to the indoor-only rule.

                  About an hour away from us, a non-profit group has monthly spay days for feral cats. $10 + they will give a rabies shot. The couple feral cats who hang around our barn will eventually all be trapped and taken to the spay day clinic... but it is a slow process. That and timing the trapping, etc. will be a craps shoot. However, if they want to hang around my property, that is the rule.

                  Right now, the only feral kitties I've seen around since Pat died have been Port and one other small, very skittish cat I call Foxy. The first time I saw her (him?), I thought we had a fox. She has a perfect fox tail, albeit probably the wrong color. I need to stop naming the feral kitties, as I only then develop some type of attachment to them. I just hope I'm able to get Port to the vet in time and can eventually also trap the other feral cat so she can be fixed. NO kittens, please! As cute as they are, we just don't need more feral cats around here.


                  • Original Poster

                    Wow, GoForAGallop! You are quite the experienced feral kitty tamer! Those are some lucky cats who find their way to your farm!

                    My house cats and my barn cat are so insanely friendly they are almost human. It breaks my heart to see these other, scared cats, especially when one is suffering.


                    • #11
                      Phaxxton - if you're a CCL then you are in good company.

                      I've been working on the same project for a couple months now with my "visiting" feral: Black Betty
                      See my post in this forum "Friending the feral cat".

                      I've assumed BB is a she because noone has sprayed the hay bales he/she/it? is bedding down in.
                      She shows up for meals, eats politely then vanishes back into the bales.
                      She too has some sort of healed wound on one side & a limp (RF) that seems to come & go.

                      The other morning my little barncat seemed to be looking for Betty, peering down into the bales. And I worried she'd gotten hurt or even died. But she was back this morning, Business as Usual.

                      I'm such a Sucker I've even worried how she'll feel when the diminishing stack of bales is no longer enough for her to hide in.

                      Good Luck catching Port & wish me the same trapping Betty.
                      *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                      Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                      Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                      Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                      • #12
                        Get a raccoon trap. I have a friend who's small dog ran away but stayed in the area and wouldnt come near them. They bought a bunch of raccoon traps and eventually caught him. They also caught several cats and raccoons.


                        • #13
                          While back I had a feral cat to trap. I was not successful, but it did one day leave me 3 kittens.

                          When I was trying to trap it I did watch some video's online. I did watch this lady on many of her video's. I think she says the bait she has used to trap the hardest feral cats to use a KY fried chicken leg, original recipe. You can also use canned tuna.


                          There are other video's which are must watches (fyi) you set, bait, line the cage, cover the trap, and some other things. This lady seems really nice.

                          Good luck.