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Failed trapping attempt

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My first attempt to trap one failed last night. The food disappeared and the trap door was shut but no cat. I am beginning to think either two possibilities.

1. Someone saw a cat in there and let it out.

2. A cat ate the food without tripping the trap and then one of them bumped the cage later on closing the door. The trap works well, I tested it out myself and it is a tried trap that I received from someone who has caught lots of cats in it before.

Are there any other possibilities I could be missing? I just hope nobody is trying to sabotage my efforts although that is possible on this campus. Do you think adding a sign to the cage would help? "Humane trapping in process -Trap Neuter Release Sponsored by PA Pets - will be neutered, receive rabies shots, dewormer and then be released at this spot" Would that help since maybe someone thinks some crazy person is trapping them for scientific research or something and thinks they are being helpful to the cats?

I have never tried to trap a cat before so any insight would be greatly appreciated. I won't be able to try again until next Sunday because of Thanksgiving break here at school.
post #2 of 14
what's the environment you'r trapping in? if it's an area where people can easily see the trap they may not know any better and release the cat. but your other theory may be correct too, sometimes you have to experiment with the placement of the food to ensure the cat will hit the trigger plate.

depending on the location you certainly could try the labeling idea to try to get people to leave it alone. but ideally the trap should be somewhere out of the way that people won't notice (since that's also the place the ferals tend to be as well).

keep trying and let us know more specifics!
post #3 of 14
Check the trap to be sure the trigger works correctly. Wash the trap out thoroughly and then lay thin layers of newspaper on the wire floor. Spray these papers with Feliway spray. Drop several teaspoons of canned cat food before the trigger and be sure the plate is pushed as far back from the trigger as possible.

Set the trap in a location that the cat will feel safest. Don't trap out in the open, behind bushes or dumpsters or rocks or trees or in the shelter of buildings works the best. Monitor the trap and once the cat is caught, drape a dark cloth over the trap and hustle him out of there quickly. Be prepared for him to throw himself against the cage, resulting in some injuries. Get him to the vet as quickly as you can-
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
I pushed it back as far as I can behind a bush but space is limited there. Part of the trap was still visible, but only if you were looking for it. I thought I had it hidden more than I really did because I put it out at night. I guess I should have checked it better. Some peope know I have been feeding them, can't help it with so many people on campus. I have gotten an automatic feeder so that should cut back on the number of trips I have to make.

I did use wet food, but the newspaper part sounds good especially since I have some newspaper in the box that they like to sleep in. I trap at night because the cats are gone during the day so I thought the darkness would hide the trap better than it did apparently. During the day there are no cats because of all of the people moving through campus. I will drape some evergreen branches over the trap to hide it better next time.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
It was definitely some sort of sabotage as I went back and looked at the scene and saw footprints that are not mine. Also one of my box shelters was flipped over on its side. I just hope HamCat was able to get out before her sleeping place was flipped, or maybe she was the one in the trap. This is frustrating.
post #6 of 14
It's part of the process unfortunately. Cats generally go ballistic in traps causing passerbyers to "release them" out of sympathy. I leave notes on the traps telling people about the problem in the area and explaining that I am trapping the cats and not hurting them. I never put my name on it, just say I am a feral cat caretaker and tell them to please leave the cat in the trap. Also if you have a double trap door on your trap- remove one of the doors and replace it with clear plexiglass. This "tricks" the older cats into entering what looks like a safe place because there is escape on just the other side.
post #7 of 14
Sorry your first trapping attempt didn't go well, but that's not unusual.

The person who taught me to trap told me that the first rule of trapping is to *never* leave the trap unattended. This is for the safety of the cats. If you can, try to watch from a place where you're able to see the trap, but the cats can't see you. Even if this isn't possible, don't leave the area. Check the trap every 15 minutes or so.
Chances are you might have caught the person in the act who may have released the cat or knocked over the shelter.

Getting the cats on a strict feeding schedule will help you trap, because you know they'll be hungry and motivated to eat. Cats learn to "tell time" quickly and often will be waiting for you to come at the appointed hour.

If the cats seem to be wary of the trap, which they may well be after this episode, they'll need to be de-sensitized to it. You want the cats to associate the trap with food, so do the following:

Secure the trap door in the open position with a bungee cord or rope. Begin by putting the food dishes near the opening of the trap, not in it. Once the cats are comfortable with this, and it may take several days, very gradually start putting the plate just inside the trap. Every few days or so, depending on how the cats are reacting, push the plate further back into the trap. Eventually, the cats will get to the point where they lose their wariness for the trap and are going in to eat without hesitation.

Trapping can certainly be frustrating but patience and persistence will help you achieve your goal.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
That is a great idea. This is good because I really need to catch a cat as quickly as possible because of all the people on campus. I had been watching the trap and spent a few hours watching it last night, but had no luck. I eventually had to go to sleep, but was getting up every hour. Unfortunately my alarm clock malfunctioned or something because I checked at 2:30 AM and then woke up at 6:35 to see everything all messed up. I checked my alarm and it was set for 3:30 unfortunately I didn't wake up or something. I just got an automatic feeder so that has messed with the feeding schedule for me. I have to balance trying to be discreet with the feeding schedule and going out to feed everyday is risky business.
post #9 of 14
If its possible, I remove the trap when I remove the food. That way, the begin to associate the trap with the food - and I can stick around long enough for them to eat and then go. Helps me keep an eye on my traps and my kits.

That might also help you get some sleep!

I almost always take a week to trap - leaving the trap open for that long also helps them get used to the trap being there.

You are doing a wonderful thing - keep up the good work.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
It is difficult to get back to the food and everything, plus there are a lot of people milling about so the fewer times I have to go out the better. I do like the idea and I am sure it works, but it would just be hard to implement in my situation. I will keep the trap open when possible because I can only trap on three days anyway because of the vet restrictions on when I can take them in.
post #11 of 14
Originally Posted by andrewrichard5 View Post
...Are there any other possibilities I could be missing? ...
How large is the trap? Suppose it was a small trap and a large dog stuck his head in and triggered it, but his rear end was still sticking out the door so he backed out.

Then he tipped over the box shelter.

And... the dog was wearing shoes.
post #12 of 14
cover the trap with a towel. The cats might try pulling the food out the sides. I had that happen a ccouple times. Food gone, trap still set lol

I hope people leave your trap alone. Can you have the campus make an announcment?
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Khayos View Post
cover the trap with a towel. The cats might try pulling the food out the sides. I had that happen a ccouple times. Food gone, trap still set lol

I hope people leave your trap alone. Can you have the campus make an announcment?
I can't tell anyone at the school what I am doing just yet as I am not sure how they will respond.
post #14 of 14
Wow if someone let the cat out they are very brave - I had to let one go that was freaking out and ended up asking my bf to do it because I was too scared of getting attacked.

I also want to say too (I just skimmed the other responses) you said something about hoping the cat wasnt inside the shelter when it was tipped over. Please be sure you have 2 openings on opposite sides of any homemade shelters. I was told to do so because of snow that they could get trapped w/ only one door - but its good also in a case like this. God forbid someone sneak up on the cats inside to knock it over and trap them - that would be devastating.

I also read on this forum to make sure the 2 doors are not across from each other cause this would case a draft.
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