It can be dangerous to handle frightened, aggressive or feral cats. For TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return)to be successful and to avoid injury, it is essential to have specialised equipment.
SNIP International recommends a minimum of one trap and two Trap-Transfer-Restrainers (TTRs) right from the start. With the combination of a trap and TTR, a feral cat may be caught, taken to the veterinary surgery, neutered and returned to its site without ever being handled in a conscious state. The fingers of the trapper, veterinarian and assistant will be safe, and the cat will also be less stressed.
Graspers and nets with cats
SNIPi do not advocate the use of graspers or nets with cats. These are difficult to use safely and effectively, which can be extremely traumatic for the cat and potentially dangerous for the trapper and/or cat with a considerable risk of injuries to both.
A cat’s natural instinct when grasped round the neck or caught in a net will be to try to escape. As a result, the cat will frantically twist round and round in a net, catching their limbs and claws, which can lead to injury of limbs, and for claws to be ripped out. When on the end of the grasper, the cat will wriggle and twist in a desperate attempt to escape, and in doing so the grasper can cause injury to the cat’s neck and even slip off the neck and cause further injuries to the mouth and jaw area.
Cats are more likely to escape from a net or a pole. The trauma from the unsuccessful capture, will increase the cat’s distrust and make further attempts to catch the cat more difficult.
If you do actually succeed in catching the cat in a net or a grasper, then extracting and/or transferring the cat into a cage or trap can cause further distress or harm to the cat and or/trapper.
We prefer to recommend equipment that enables low stress trapping and handling, which minimises avoidable physical and psychological harm to both cat and trapper.
We advise using a manual, automatic (self-activating) or drop trap to catch the cat and then transferring it into a Trap Transfer Cage or a Trap Transfer Restrainer (squeeze cage).
This method means that the cat is never handled while it is conscious as it can be transferred from the trap (or via a transfer cage) to the restrainer where it can be given an anaesthetic. This will minimise stress for the cat and avoid injury to the handler.
Feral, shy or aggressive cats may be caught in a trap baited with food. The door shuts when the cat enters and treads on the plate. Examples are the Eeziset cat trap and Eezicatch cat trap.
These work by the operator pulling a cord to close the door when the cat has entered to eat the bait. Automatic traps may be modified to work manually, by propping the door open with a stick that is pulled away when the cat has entered. This is useful if you are trying to trap a particular cat, or a mother with her kittens. An example is the MAC cat trap.
DIY manual trap
Alternatively the J and K trap is a manual trap which may be homemade using soft pine and marine plywood, and galvanized wire mesh. The slide-up door preferably should be made of transparent polyglass.
To download the instructions to make one, click here.