Q: I’ve been doing trap-neuter-return near my house, but there is one cat in the colony that won’t go into the box trap, no matter what I use for bait. I can’t let this guy miss out on TNR. what should I do?
A: There are several techniques you can try on those cats who are eluding you! Our Tips for Successful Trapping of Trap-Shy Cats include ways to make the trap more enticing or ideas for distraction techniques. If those tips don’t do the trick, the best tool for targeting those hard-to-trap cats is a drop trap.
Unlike a box trap, which springs automatically when the cat steps on a trigger plate, you can spring a drop trap manually. This feature allows you to target specific cats and is especially helpful for trapping cats that have learned to steal the bait from a box trap without triggering it. Drop traps are also larger and less confining than a box trap, making them more inviting to a trap-shy cat.
The typical drop trap is a large square frame with mesh netting across the top and guillotine-style door in one side. To trap the cat, the side opposite the door is propped up and bait is placed at the back of the trap. When the cat walks underneath, the trapper, standing several feet away, pulls out the prop stick using a rope and the trap falls over the cat. The trapper then transfers the cat to a smaller cage or carrier through the door in the frame.
If you’re handy, you can follow these instructions to build your own drop trap. If you’re not, Alley Cat Allies’ collapsible version — which folds up into a compact shape for easy carrying — is available to purchase. This drop trap was designed with the busy trapper in mind.
Whether you buy, borrow, or build your drop trap, read the instructions for our collapsible drop trap for more detailed information on how these traps work. Always follow these precautions to make sure you are trapping safely:
- Practice all steps of trapping with an empty drop trap beforehand until you are confident you can operate it correctly when the cat is inside.
- Only use the drop trap to catch adult cats. Do not attempt to trap kittens with a drop trap — their small size puts them at greater risk for injury. Kittens are easy to trap with humane box traps and it’s safer to use the small box traps for kittens.
- Pick a flat surface to trap on and completely clear away all debris so that the trap will fall level. Don’t use a drop trap on a hill or rocky area.
When used safely and correctly, a drop trap can be a great tool for making sure that all of the cats in your colony receive the benefits of trap-neuter-return.