When You Need To Trap Cats......
Ok....now is the time....you've decided you want to trap...trap, neuter and return...TNR. Time to get prepared! There are a few things you need to do ahead of time, and once you do those, the day of trapping should be somewhat successful. What do we mean by "somewhat successful"? The one thing we cannot give you is patience...patience will be your friend while trapping. And we cannot keep you calm...if you are prepared, you will be calm and cats tell us they like calm. So plan and practice and you will get your cat!
Planning means to get started by getting your target cats on a regular feeding schedule. If you can, discuss what you are doing with your neighbors. If they have indoor/outdoor cats, you will want to let them know you are trapping and either find out which cats are theirs or ask them to keep them inside on the days you are trapping. We have printed material that we use to give to neighbors so you can communicate effectively about what you are trying to do. The key thing to remember is not everyone loves cats...not everyone hates cats, but everyone would be happier with less cats that are left to their own outside.
The next step in your planning is to make your appointment to spay or neuter. There are several resources with reasonable costs. Most people in the county use the Cleveland APL which offers a rate of $10 for those who TNR. You may take a cat there that you own or plan to socialize and the price is only slightly higher at $45-$55.
Once you have your scheduled appointment date, locate a trap that you can rent or borrow. Kamm's Cat Guardians has traps that you can rent for $45 ($40 will be refunded upon return of the trap in good condition). Simply email or call to setup your trap rental from KCG. The trap rental form is under the "When You Need Forms" menu item under "What To Do When...".
Appointment...check. Cats coming on schedule...check. Trap in hand....check. Have your "kit" ready? Remember the part about being prepared creates calm? So have a little bag or box with these items handy...old blankets or towels (to cover the traps with after the cat is inside. This will actually calm them down, especially if they are thrashing), a bottle of water, some small paper plates, a roll of paper towels, several cans of really smelly canned cat food or tuna fish packed in WATER (some people even use sardines and canned salmon), can opener (if required), scissors and old newspapers to line the bottom of the trap with. You may think of more things but these are the basics.
Set your trap and test it several times. Then fold a section of newspaper to the right size so that it will fit in the bottom of the trap all the way up to the paddle trigger. This is where you can try to set the trap and try to catch your cat the first time but for beginners, they recommend putting the trap out with the food bait (on the paper plate just behind the paddle trigger) but DO NOT SET THE TRAP. Day 1, just let the cat go in and eat. It is recommended to do this for a day or two to get the cat comfortable with going INTO the trap. If they seem ok with that, then withhold food for at least 12 hours before the actual trapping day. NEVER EVER EVER leave the trap unattended...EVER. Remember patience? Set the trap with the wet food bait again. Have your old blanket or towel ready to swiftly cover the trap once it trips with the cat inside. Place the cat in a safe inside location until they are transported to their appointment. They can stay overnight with the cover on in a quiet and warm location if the appointment is the next morning. Planning is everything....
After the cats have had their surgery and vaccinations and ear-tips (universal sign of a fixed outdoor feral cat), they will need to recuperate for 24 to 48 hours, again, in a quiet and warm location....WARM because a cat cannot regulate it's body temperature after surgery. Be prepared to keep them in a basement or attached heated garage until it is time to release them. The facility you took them to will provide you with post-surgical care instructions... You can reference more detail here http://www.animalalliancenyc.org/wordpress/2017/02/monitoring-cats-during-tnr-spay-neuter-recovery/
Then when they are ready and alert, take the cats back to where they were trapped, open the trap. Once they realize where they are, they may bolt or just sit in the trap for a minute and you may have to coax them out.
Good Luck! (and of course, call or email if you have any questions)