Cat Survives Muskrat Trap

Cat Survives Muskrat Trap

by Elisa Black-Taylor

Muskrat trap from

Muskrat trap from

Good morning readers. Today I'd like to tell you the story of Terry, a 5-year old Maine Coon who survived being caught in a muskrat trap.

I've chosen today's topic for two reasons. The first is, Terry's story has a happy ending. I LOVE happy endings. The second reason is to throw a little education at you about trapping.

Now for the story of Terry the cat. For those of you who would like the complete story and a photo please click here (new window).

Terry is the son of a feral and was adopted by Fran Spangle of Lititz, Pennsylvania. He was one of five kittens and the only one Fran didn't adopt out. The mother had her litter in the garage at her Pennsylvania home. Fran and Terry are best friends. Fran allows him to roam about in the great outdoors because she believes that's what cats are supposed to do.

The problem began three weeks ago when Terry failed to return home after a day of hunting. Fran knew something had happened to her cat. Terry was the type of cat who was constantly with her when he was at home. He'd even watch her make the bed and brush her teeth.

He'd been gone for 17 days when on Friday, December 3, one of Fran's students heard a cat crying in the darkness one night. When the student was unsuccessful at finding Terry, Fran's husband dressed in some old clothes and went on a cat hunt along a nearby creek.

It was here he found Terry, caught in an old muskrat trap. He was malnourished, dehydrated, and close to death. The best they can figure was he'd been caught in the trap for 17 days. If not for some tangled shrubbery he'd have made it home, trap and all. But it got tangled up along the way and left him-well-trapped.

Terry lost a front leg, but Fran is very thankful her cat is alive.

Like it or not, there are people who consider this a sport. Other's earn a living from trapping. Early American and Canadian settlers, along with American Indians, hunted muskrats for their pelts. I live in the United States and trapping here goes back to the first days of this country where Indians and Europeans traded fur.

However, those traps were more humane and resembled the traps used to catch ferals for TNR. The spring traps are dangerous and inhumane. They promote suffering. I don't believe in trapping. I would love to see the old spring loaded traps outlawed. They're a danger to pets. They're a danger to kids and to adults because usually they're covered with leaves to hide them. You don't know one has snapped onto your foot until you're screaming in agony!

I did a little research into cat's being caught in traps such as this and usually the cat doesn't survive. It isn't found in time and dies of starvation/dehydration or the trap shuts in such a way the cat bleeds to death.

Please be careful where you let your cats roam. Be careful where you walk when you have to play hide and seek to find your cat. These traps are by law supposed to be checked at least once every 24 hours. Being the law to check traps and this being done are two different things. There's no way of knowing how many old traps are still out in the woods waiting for your cat. Traps that haven't been checked in months-if not YEARS!

Trappers usually don't do anything to encourage a cat to investigate. They'll be the first to tell you not to use cat or dog food when baiting the trap. It's usually a case of the cat being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Still, it's very irresponsible for a trapper to abandon a live trap. They're very inexpensive so it's not a big loss financially.

Unless you're a cat who get's hurt in one. Then someone is going to have a whopper of a vet bill.

As was the case with Terry. Fran just hopes Terry will recover emotionally from his ordeal. His stitches come out on Monday. But the experience has changed him. He's jumping at sudden noises and hiding when people come to visit. Fran just wants his personality to return to normal. Right now she's just glad he's alive.

Have any of you come across old traps when out hiking or exploring?



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Cat Survives Muskrat Trap

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Apr 28, 2012
stop stop stop NEW
by: Anonymous

well actually these traps do not hurt dog and yes they are more humane beause the vg pushes the muskrat in the face

Mar 28, 2011
17 days is maybe a little long
by: Anonymous

Unfortunately musktrat trapping is a necessary part of rural life. They alter ponds and ditches into swampy wetlands through soil erosion - which is great, we need wetland habitat but we also need ponds, ditches, and minimal soil erosion is preferable. Soil is valuable stuff, after all.

The same argument holds for beavers who can actually raise and lower the water table and wash out bridges with their dams. Trappers in Canada must catch a minimum number of beaver or be fined--the result could be disastrous--flooded forests, roadways, and houses.

That being said the trapper should have been checking his traps. In all likelihood that trap was set in a position where it couldn't have caught a cat, and then the water level dropped, the cat would have been mousing for water mice/voles along a mink trail and was caught. There's no excuse for sloppy trapping like that. The traps may not be species specific, but they can always be set in species specific ways.

Jan 03, 2011
Saw one once
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

When I was thirteen I came across a trap exactly like the one that hurt that poor cat. I was exploring around the trout stream behind my grandparents' house. I threw a rock at it and sprung the trap. I had the same thought-- somebody's cat or dog could get caught in it. It snapped shut with frightening violence-- it could have hurt a person and might have easily broken the leg of any small animal caught in it. Grandpa said that whoever set the trap would be mad, but he didn't go reset it and he didn't say that what I'd done was wrong. I think the one in the wrong was the person who set that trap. Just because you have the right to do something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

Dec 12, 2010
Just on the time of year
by: Elisa Black-Taylor

Usually late October to late December. Probably require a fish and game license as they fall into the same category as small game. And to check the traps every 24 hours.

Dec 12, 2010
by: Michael

Personally I hate all trapping of animals unless it is to trap a feral cat to TNR it.

It is inhumane for one and indiscriminate as well. It is so careless to simply put a nasty trap down for any small animal to walk on including people.

I just don't see how this is permissible. Are there any laws/regulations governing this?

It is high time the human race started to treat all other animals with more respect and lost some of its arrogance and ignorance.

Thanks for posting, Elisa.

Michael Avatar


Cat Survives Muskrat Trap — 2 Comments

  1. These feral cats are in for a period of great suffering with the cold winter coming on. Near our local Walmart the temps get quite low and it would be doubtful of they could survive the winter in a feral situation.

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