Scardy Cat II
February 20, 2012 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Are there any good, humane ways to trap a semi-domesticated cat?

This is a follow-up to a previous question. Our stray kitten, Sigmund or Siggy, is due to go in and get fixed. He is much friendlier, and loves to be pet, though only when he deems it appropriate. However, he will not allow anyone to pick him up, nor will he sit on laps. He also has an incredible sense of self-preservation and has his senses very well-attuned to being trapped. We have been trying for the last several days to get him into a carrier to take to the vets. I mistakenly just tried picking him up (with gloves) on Saturday, and he was able to tear away. Today we were trying to lure him into the carrier with crab and he is so wary that he will not go in after it when I am within ten feet.

So any ideas? I am thinking about picking up one of those live traps, with the springing doors. it will probably be traumatic, but in the end less so than what we are doing.
posted by rtimmel to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A friend's normally docile cat got free and spent a couple days being unapproachably feral under their deck - they got a humane trap, caught him, and brought him home, and while he clearly resented the hell out of being trapped, he was back to normal pretty much instantly when they let him go. So, yeah, I'd try it for sure. Just make sure you set it up so you don't accidentally trap the wrong cat.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:06 PM on February 20, 2012

Best answer: Yes, you need one of these, baited with tuna or canned chicken. Do wear gloves while handling the trap.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:06 PM on February 20, 2012

Sounds smart. If there is a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) program in your area, they will lend you the trap.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:07 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Based on your previous question it seems that Siggy will come into the house. Do you think you can go a step further and herd him into the smallest possible room, like the bathroom? That's how we get our cats into the carriers, and in the bathroom with the door closed there's just nowhere for them go to.

Then we put the carrier on its side the door is up on top. That way gravity can help get the kitty through the door. Lastly, if he can't be picked up you may have an easier time by throwing a towel on top of him and scooping him up that way. Then put the entire bundle, towel and all, into the carrier. (He'll extricate himself from the towel quickly.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:13 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I play "trap the kitty in a pillowcase" with Squish. First I rub down a pillowcase with catnip. Next, I prop up his carrier so the entry is facing up. Next, I get him to come close (on a bed or couch is easiest), then, ninjalike, I spring forth with the pillowcase, popping it over his head, making sure to sweep my arm around behind his butt. Then I slowly devour him with the pillowcase. Pet, pet, pet. Soothe, soothe, soothe. Eventually he calms down. I slowly lift up the pillowcase like a sack o' kitty and slowly lower it into the carrier. Seal the cage, lay it down flat. Then I reach in through the grill and tug the pillowcase until his head is free. He does the rest.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 1:16 PM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

You're in Chicago? National TNR-advocating organization Alley Cat Allies has on their "make connections" page a Chicago feral cat meetup and a yahoo group. Further down the page, you can get a list of "feral friends" emailed to you - between those resources, you should be able to easily locate a trap. Here's their page on how to use it. Having trapped quite a number of cats in my time, there's a high likelihood of freakout when they realize they're trapped, but once the whole experience is over, they get over it pretty readily.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:16 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

If he will not come in the house, then Put food in a trap that is not set for several days. Then put food in the set trap.

It would be best if you can not only get him in the house but also keep him in a bathroom or a laundry room after the ordeal. Give him a little confined time to decompress (if possible.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:16 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Or if the cat is in Racine, you could try the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County. There's an item in a 2008 newsletter that mentions them renting out traps.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:23 PM on February 20, 2012

When you pet him, pick him up by the scruff of the neck. They have a reflex that freezes them, making them docile, when you do that. Put him in a carrier. It's not inhumane - it's how their mothers carry them. 100% natural.
posted by iotic at 1:28 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

When you pet him, pick him up by the scruff of the neck. They have a reflex that freezes them, making them docile, when you do that. Put him in a carrier. It's not inhumane - it's how their mothers carry them. 100% natural.

Just a note of caution, while that works on most cats (including my current pair), some cats (like my previous one) do not seem to respond to it at all. And when I say "not respond," I mean it enrages them further and makes them try even harder to kill you.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 1:31 PM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't pick a full grown cat up by its scruff. You can pick them up normally and pinch and lift the area between their shoulder blades a bit and it will trigger the motionless reflex without hurting them.
posted by zug at 1:36 PM on February 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

When he comes to be petted, spread a towel next to wherever you're sitting. Sprinkle it with catnip, kitty treats, toys, whatever gets him excited and interested. Then, grab the edges of the towel to make a makeshift sack and deposit in the cat carrier. (This is how I sometimes lure my smallest, most suspicious kitty into the carrier. Yes, I feel extremely guilty, but she falls for it every time.)
posted by tully_monster at 2:08 PM on February 20, 2012

I've been volunteering with a cat rescue group for two years and have had to handle a lot of cats, many of them difficult ones that really don't want to be handled at all. Since every cat is different, there isn't one single tried-and-true method that works for all of them. But I usually use some combination of scruffing/towel/pillowcase techniques.

As Juffo noted, scruffing won't work with all cats but it's a good thing to try and you can usually tell pretty quickly if they're going to go with it or resist. Simply grab the skin on the back of their neck/below their ears firmly and wait a second (don't lift it off the ground yet). If they freeze, that's a good sign. If they start to twist and turn like they're going to bite/claw you release immediately and back away.

So I would never completely lift a large adult cat off the ground when scruffed. If it's a small/skinny cat, like under 10 pounds, I'll do it quickly. But you shouldn't ever lift a scruffed adult cat off of the ground for too long. If you've got the carrier right next to you with the cat scruffed, then a quick lift>place in carrier>done should do the trick. If the carrier is in another room then bring a pillow case with you, scruff the cat, quick lift into the pillow case, done.

If it's a large cat that's scruffed I'll make a "kitty taco" using a towel. I'll scruff the cat, then start wrapping a towel around it like a taco as best as I can. I might lift part of the cat off the ground to get the towel underneath it.

If it's a cat that won't be scruffed then I'll either try to coax it onto a towel as mentioned above, then wrap it up that way. Or....well, if it's really resistant, I'll make sure I have a big towel and basically try to throw the towel on top of the cat to get it completely covered, then commence to scoop it up that way, entirely encased in the towel.

Good luck! And, from someone who's already starting to see the abandoned pregnant pet cats come into our rescue organization as "kitten season" begins, thank you thank you thank you for getting your cat fixed.
posted by Squee at 3:03 PM on February 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I had to catch a formerly feral cat that hid in the basement when we moved. I used a have-a-heart trap for a couple of weeks, the cat outsmarted it (me!) every time... even though the only food he could get was in the back of that trap.

Here was the trick:

Put the trap in an area that is quiet.

Put some canned mackerel (it stinks, and that's the important part) on the floor (put cardboard under it if you need to keep the floor clean). Mash the trap down over the fish so it gets caught in the wire, you want the cat to have to work to get the fish. Make sure this is as far back in the trap as possible.

Then, take a piece of newspaper and fold it to the same width as the floor of the trap so it extends over the trip plate.

Set the trap, put a towel over the trap to make it into a little cave.

After setting the trap in this manner, I had the cat that had evaded my efforts within twenty minutes. Once you have the cat, cover the entire trap and transport him in the little cat cave you've made.

This was a cat that had done serious damage to my wife when she originally tried to carry it to the car....
posted by HuronBob at 3:08 PM on February 20, 2012 [5 favorites]

Your vet may have a humane trap they can lend you.
posted by radioamy at 7:01 PM on February 20, 2012

Humane Society and ASPCA will often loan humane traps for a small deposit*.

HuronBob's method is very complete, non-traumatic, and effective.

Thank you for being willing to go to the effort to get Siggy fixed!

*if you can afford it, you can ask them to conver the deposit to a donation.
posted by batmonkey at 7:24 AM on February 21, 2012

Another tip is to get a carrier that has the front gate thing, but also can be opened with latches so you can take the top off. Example

Makes it much easier to go from toweled cat to inside the carrier. Also makes it easier for the vet. Much less traumatic.

Yeah, we do the towel thing now.
posted by jopreacher at 9:05 PM on February 21, 2012

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