Catch a Stray Cat

Catch a Stray Cat?..stray cats are sometimes feral cats and sometimes beginning to be feral cats. One of the best stray cat catching stories was in the UK press recently (23-7-08) and it’ll be the stuff of legend when this page is history. The story concerns Celia Hammond the former famous model and now an equally famous cat catcher and founder or the Celia Hammond Animal Trust (CHAT). You can learn all you need to know from her about how to catch a stray cat because Celia and assistants do it all the time and fairly recently they completed a mission to save the feral cats that occupied the London Olympics site. Part of the site was semi-derelict and ideal territory for feral cats of which their were 187 including an elusive cat Celia called Black Jack, a semi-long haired tom cat.

CHAT had caught all but one when they were told they had to stop and make way for the Olympic site builders. She thought she’d never catch the last one, Black Jack. But in her determined style, that made her a top model, she pressed on and got him.

Her struggle to catch him attracted lots of publicity which helped as she got a tip off that he might be in an alley on the western boundary of the Olympic site. She set traps in the area for 3 weeks and monitored them with her assistants day and night. She used microwaved frozen roast chicken as bait and used a string pulley to operate the latch to the trap’s door. It was a very tense moment when she pulled the string and trapped Black Jack (some traps have automatic door closers). He turned out to be pretty friendly after being initially very wild and was probably a domestic cat for some time before becoming feral.

So, that’s how you catch a stray cat – recap:

  1. Have commitment
  2. Have patience
  3. Publicise the trapping and the program of TNR (if this is the case). Put up a sign to say that cat trapping is in progress if the area is residential as you might catch someone’s domestic cat. This is important as the objective is usually to catch feral cats not a cat belonging to Mrs Smith who is dearly loved and cared for and neutered. I’d involve the local authorities, which may in fact be obligatory.
  4. Check the legal issues before commencing. It may be illegal in the UK to leave an animal caged for longer than 8 hours (this needs checking)
  5. Use an animal trap of the required size (see photos). They cost in the order of £30 (GPD) in the UK
  6. Make sure the trap is stable when left on the ground
  7. Place a heavy object on the trap to keep it stable with the caught cat inside (not essential)
  8. Use appropriately nice smelling cat food. Cats eat by smell a lot
  9. Know where to place the trap or at least have a reasonable idea

Here are some pictures of the equipment:

cat traps
To catch a stray cat – photograph ©GElisbeth-creative commons license
cat trap and cat
To catch a stray cat-photo ©julie3jax under a creative commons license
trapped feral cats
Photo of trapped feral cats by and © Feral Indeed! Notice the blankets etc. over the cages which are to help keep the cats calm
feral trapping sign
Photo ©goldfoot under a creative commons license

feral cat instructions

photo copyright Feral Indeed! – this shows the instructions given by a clinic on the trapping of feral cats.

Note the “Trapping Hints and Guidelines”. You should put carpet, newspaper or an old towel on the base of the trap to stop the cat’s feet going through. These traps don’t come with a floor! The food bait should not be placed in glass bowls or sharp edged cans etc. And the trapper should drape a towel or blanket (small) over the trap as shown in one of the pictures above.

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