Glue traps are a potential danger to cats

Are glue traps dangerous to cats? The answer is yes.

English law

The danger to cats is highlighted by the fact that in England, anyone who sets a glue trap for the purpose of catching a rodent commits an offence if they don’t have a licence to do so. The relevant law is the Glue Traps (Offences) Act 2022 – see below.

Section of the statute referred to.

This indicates that glue traps are dangerous to all animals. A quick image search on Google tells me that many animals are caught in glue traps, not only the mice or rats for which they are intended but, yes, domestic cats and birds as well. Incidentally, they are an inhumane way to kill rodents.

HSUS advice

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) tells us that when animals get stuck on glue boards they cry out in pain and have been known to bite through their limbs in attempting to free themselves. Even when rescued they still may have to be euthanised because of injuries or the effects of chemicals on the glue combined with the intense stress suffered.

HSUS says that larger glue boards can entrap medium-sized animals such as pets, including a domestic cat. When they are removed from a glue board, they often require veterinary help and sometimes veterinarians are employed to use surgery to remove a cat from a glue board.

Many people don’t know about the dangers. And HSUS says that there is little information provided by manufacturers.

Cat trapped in a glue trap
Cat trapped in a glue trap. Photo: Cats of Redhill, Singapore.

Legal in most countries

There are bans on glue boards in the Canadian state of British Columbia and in Australia (but see below) and New Zealand (HSUS). There are no regulations on their use in the United States and the same will apply to most other countries. In Victoria, Australia glue traps can only be sold to commercial pest control operators with the approval of the Minister for Agriculture. This mirrors the law in the UK.

If you see an animal caught on a glue trap it is an emergency. The board and the animal should be transported to a veterinarian or a local wildlife rehabilitator.

Releasing animal from glue trap

If there’s no time or you can’t get a veterinarian. HSUS provides advice on how to do it yourself. You need gloves and a bottle of cooking oil and also a towel. You run hot water over the bottle of oil until it feels warm on your wrist but not too hot so that it burns.

You gently restrain the animal using the towel and then keep a firm grip. With your other hand you can gently massage in the heated oil at the points where the animal is stuck to the glue, which softens it allowing you to freely animal. It takes time and patience.

Once the animal is removed, they should be kept it in a warm, dark and quiet location until you can obtain help. I would recommend the RSPCA in the UK and HSUS recommends a veterinarian or a wildlife rehabilitator. The animal should receive treatment for the oil on their body.

Struggling

The danger for domestic cats if they are caught in a glue trap is that they struggle to free themselves which can worsen the situation because they might become more deeply stuck to the glue and probably harm themselves. The struggles can lead to broken claws, torn fur, skin abrasions or other injuries.

As mentioned, the adhesive substance can be toxic if ingested which might happen when they gnaw at their feet or legs to escape.

Not recommended but widely available

Glue traps are not recommended although they are advertised quite extensively on Amazon. I didn’t see any clear warnings about the possibility of domestic cats being caught. They are a typical used for trapping mice.

Inherently cruel

But even for mice I would have thought this was a cruel product. A lot of people don’t like mice in the home but, then again, a lot of people don’t like starving a mouse to death on a glue trap. There must be a better more humane way.

Manufacturers say that glue boards are safe but it appears that they are not. Any animal caught in a glue trap will eventually starve to death and die of a lack of water. It’s a cruel death. Apparently, some people try to beat glue-trapped animals to death but this is not euthanising an animal humanely. This is brutal killing.

A cat will suffer enormous stress and there will be a psychological impact when entrapped by a glue trap. There will suffer fear, anxiety and pain and it might have a lasting psychological effect on them. They may become fearful or aggressive as a result of this traumatic event.

The toxic substances in the glue might lead to gastrointestinal issues, poisoning and other health complications.

Missing fur as a result of breaking free from the trap exposes the cat to bacterial and fungal infections. If left these infections can cause a serious health problem for the cat.

Wales

The Welsh government’s website tells me that day, 17 October 2023, glue traps are illegal in Wales. They say that it is the first ban of its kind in the UK. That’s true in respect of a total ban because glue traps are allowed in England under a licence but this Welsh law is a clean ban as I understand it.

Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said:

“This is a historic day for animal welfare. We strive for the very highest standards of animal welfare in Wales, and the use of snares and glue traps are incompatible with what we want to achieve.”

Wales has also banned snares. The RSPCA in Wales commented on the ban on glue traps and snares by saying:

“We very much welcome the ban on snares and glue traps coming into force today. Both have the potential to cause immeasurable suffering to animals. Too often, our officers have dealt with animals in severe pain and misery at the hands of these devices; which are cruel, indiscriminate and totally unnecessary.”

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