The best times to trap are early mornings (6am) or evenings after 5pm.
The cats need to be hungry. If you feed the cats where you are trapping, do not feed them on the day you will trap, or the evening before the morning of trapping. This means the cats will be hungry enough to go into the traps on trapping day. If there are other people who feed in the area, talk to them so they withhold food as well.
Trap count. Count the traps before you place them in an area and count them when you leave to ensure no trapped cats are accidentally forgotten.
Prepare your trap. Line the bottom of the trap with a sheet of newspaper, so that the floor is more comfortable for kitty paws. On windy days, it might be necessary to tape the newspaper down.
Bait the traps. The smellier, the better! Place approximately one tablespoon of bait (tuna in oil, sardines, or other strong-smelling food) at the very back of the trap, so that the cat will step on the trigger plate while attempting to reach the food. Lightly drizzle some bait juice along the trap floor toward the entrance. Place a tiny bit of food (1/4 teaspoon) just inside the entrance of the trap to encourage the cat to walk in.
Placement of traps. Always place the traps on flat and stable ground. Try to place the traps in quiet and hidden areas, so cats are more comfortable going near them, for example near a bush or close to a wall – not out in the open.
Never leave a trap unattended, monitor the trap at all times. Keep your distance so you don’t scare cats away, let the cats move inside of their own accord but keep the trap in sight.
Drop cloth at the ready. A trapped cat is a frightened cat and will likely be thrashing to get out; the first time you trap this is quite a daunting experience. Immediately cover the entire trap with a large towel or sheet to calm the cat down.
Location. Have a sticker ready to put on the trap with the exact location of where you trapped the cat, really important if you are trapping in multiple places at the same time.
Transport the cats to the clinic. If trapping late at night for an appointment next morning, bring the trapped cat home and enclose in a secure room inside the covered trap. Don’t release inside the room as you might not know the temperament of the cat. Don’t feed and only provide a small amount of water. Keep the trap covered at all times to keep the cat calm. A cat should be fasting before surgery.
IMPORTANT – always ask the vet to check the cat for a microchip before operating. If the cat has a microchip then he may be a domestic pet with an owner and may not be a community cat. If a microchip number is found then the next step is to check for the microchip number on the Petsafe Qatar website (this is where pet owners should register their pets to link them to their pet). If no details come up on the website then ring around the other local vet practices to try and locate any potential owner – not all pet owners register their pets, but they are likely to be registered at one of the local vet practices. See the list of local vet practices in our useful links section.
POST SURGERY/RECOVERY STAGE
Most veterinarian clinics offer a boarding recovery service post surgery. On average it costs between QR 50 – 100 per night.
If you are going to do the recovery stage yourself, please read carefully the guide below.
After surgery cats will need a quiet, safe place to recover where they will not be disturbed. Keep the cats in a temperature-controlled environment. When the cats are recovering from anaesthesia they are unable to regulate their body temperature, ensure the cats don’t get too hot or too cold, the ideal temperature would be 70 Fahrenheit (20 degrees). A spare unused bathroom is often a good location for recovery.
Keep the traps covered at all times to reduce the cats’ stress. Never allow the cats out of the trap, or open the trap doors without inserting a trap divider first. Do not attempt to handle the cats, or put your fingers through the bars. Human interaction is extremely stressful for them.
Give the cats food and water after they wake up. Feed kittens under 6 months old shortly after they wake from anaesthesia, adult cats can be fed a few hours after they wake (8 hours after surgery). When feeding the cats, lift the back door of the trap slowly and only allow a small gap, slide a plastic lid with a little bit of food on it through the gap—don’t put your hand inside.
You can also use an isolator or trap divider to do this if you have the type of trap that doesn’t have a back door that lifts up.
Check the cats for their progress. If you notice bleeding, swelling, lethargy, vomiting, having difficulty breathing, or not fully waking up, get veterinary assistance immediately. Lack of appetite is a concern, but be aware that many healthy cats will refuse to eat in a trap.
Adult cats can be returned to the trapping site 12 to 24 hours after surgery depending on recovery speed. In some cases, females require 48 hours to recover, males can generally be released the next day. Make sure all cats are fully conscious, clear-eyed, and alert before release.
The stitches used by the veterinary staff are dissolvable, so they do not need to be removed.
Return the cats to the EXACT SAME LOCATION where you trapped them. Choose a time when it is quiet, point the trap door away from roads or high-traffic areas so
the cats don’t run into them. Keep your fingers and hands as far from the cat as possible when opening the trap, open the trap door and remove the cover. Move away and keep your distance. Sometimes it takes the cats a moment to realize where they are, but they will run off once they get their bearings.
Leave food and water for the released cat.
The cat may stay away from the area for a few days after being returned but will come back eventually.
Relocation should only be considered as a last resort under extreme circumstances when the cats’ lives are in imminent danger. In that case, be prepared by reading The Alley Cat Allies Guidelines for Safe Relocation of Feral Cats.
IMPORTANT: Even in the best case scenarios relocation can be very dangerous for cats and ineffective. Relocation is extremely stressful for cats. Community cats bond to their outdoor homes and will try to go back—in some cases cats have died in the process when people misguidedly believe that their life will be better someplace else.
(ref: Alleycat Allies)
Further Reading: Trapping Booklet