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Traps & equipment

The Tools You Need For TNR

Having the right traps and equipment makes the work of TNR faster and safer. A line of equipment designed by Neighborhood Cats and Tomahawk Live Trap is now available, including box traps, drop traps, trap dividers, feral cat dens and accessories like transparent rear doors and kitten screens. Tru-Catch, another well-known manufacturer, also makes feral cat equipment highly regarded by many experienced trappers and TNR groups.

Box Traps

The normal trap used for TNR is a "box trap." Bait is placed in the rear of the trap, the cat enters through the front and, on the way to the bait, steps on a trip plate, triggering the front door to shut behind her. The trigger mechanism in traps made by Tomahawk is spring-loaded, causing the front door to shut rapidly and loudly. Traps made by Tru-Catch have no springs and the front door closes more gently and quietly.

After the cats are captured, box traps double as cages (see Caring for Cats in Traps). To be suitable for holding cats for up to a week, we recommend traps have a length of between 30 to 36 inches and a width of at least 10 inches. Another essential feature is a rear door.

Neighborhood Cats traps

The Neighborhood Cats Traps include these feral-friendly features:

- Extra-wide trip plate‚Äč
- Pair of extra-long handles
- Large hand guard plate
- Simple rear door locking mechanism

The extra width of the trip plate prevents cats from stepping over it on their way to the bait and eliminates the need for cardboard extenders to make a narrow plate wider. Having two long handles makes it easier to carry and balance the trap when there's a feline occupant. The large hand guard protects the trapper and leaves more room for labels and instructions. The easy-to-use rear door lock reduces the incidence of mistakes and people forgetting to secure the door. Models we helped design include:

  • 608NC, 36" L x 10" W x 12" H, 11 lbs.
  • 606NC, 30" L x 10" W x 12" H, 10 lbs.
  • 605NC, 30" L x 10" W x 10" H, 8.5 lbs.
  • 206NC (collapsible), 30" L x 10" W x 12"H, 10 lbs.

Model 206NC snaps open with a tug on the handles. After it's fully set up, which takes less than a minute, it's as sturdy as the non-collapsible traps. When lying flat, the trap is approximately 22 inches wide.

Tru-Catch traps

Some trappers prefer the gentle closing action of Tru-Catch front doors, believing this lessens the risk of injury from the door striking a cat or kitten. That the door slides shut and doesn't slam closed, they believe, also reduces the risk of scaring other untrapped cats away. Setting a Tru-Catch trap is a bit more complex, which can be an issue for those with no experience with the trap. Models we recommend include:

  • 30FCD (Fat Cat Animal Trap), 30" L x 12" W x 14" H, 11.7 lbs.
  • 36-D, 36" L x 12" W x 14" H, 15 lbs.

Tru-Catch offers two other 30 inch length models (30-D and 30-LTD). At 9 inches wide, we believe they're too narrow to double as cages, but there are experienced TNR practitioners who disagree.

Drop Traps

Neighborhood Cats Drop Trap

The Neighborhood Cats Drop Trap is the first and only mass-manufactured drop trap available. It's invaluable for catching cats who won't enter a normal box trap or for picking one cat out from a crowd. The trap is all metal, making it easy to disinfect, and folds up flat in a suitcase style. A string can be tied to the prop stick for dropping the trap or a remote control trigger can be purchased separately. See Drop Traps for how to use.

Trap dividers

Trap dividers

Trap dividers, also known as trap isolators, make it possible for traps to double as cages during a TNR project. A cat can be sectioned off on one end of the trap while the caretaker opens the other end to feed and clean (see Caring for Cats in Traps). A divider can also be used to separate two cats caught in the same trap and facilitate transfer of a cat from a trap into a transfer cage or feral cat den. For veterinary staff, a divider makes it possible to squeeze a cat against one end of a trap and inject an anesthetic.

Many manufacturers make dividers to go with their brand of traps, but we've only found two strong enough, and therefore safe enough, for TNR purposes - Tomahawk Live Trap Model TD12NC and Tru-Catch Model TD-2. Either will work in any wire mesh trap up to 12 inches wide and 14 inches high, no matter the manufacturer. 

Feral Cat Dens

A feral cat den is a carrier for cats who cannot be safely picked up and handled, and can be used for transport and housing. It has two doors - a sliding acrylic front door and a round side door. The guillotine-style front door allows a feral to be transferred into the den from a trap with a similar style rear door. When the den is placed inside a cage, the side porthole door can be tipped open or shut from outside the cage. This allows the cat to be confined in the den when the cage door is opened, preventing escapes (see Fostering: The Feral Cat Setup for more on using dens in cages). Neighborhood Cats helped re-design the den produced by Tomahawk Live Trap, adding a lock to the side door, rounded corners on the acrylic front door to prevent chipping, a larger handle and a more secure front door lock. It comes in white, gray or tan models.

Trap accessories

See-through rear trap door

Experienced trappers know a feral cat is more likely to go into a trap if he thinks there is an opening at the rear. The appearance of an exit on the opposite end lessens his normal fear of entering an enclosed space. To capitalize on this tendency, Neighborhood Cats and Tomahawk designed a transparent, acrylic rear door which can be substituted for the regular wire mesh door in Tomahawk models 606NC and 608NC.

Kitten screen

There may be times you only want to catch young kittens. For example, you may have just started working on a colony and cannot arrange spay/neuter for several weeks. There are several kittens in the colony and you don't want to wait until your spay/neuter date to trap the little ones, because then it will be too late to easily socialize and adopt them out. One way to go about trapping kittens only is with a drop trap or you could use the bottle-and-string trick. If those methods are not feasible - perhaps circumstances won't allow you to monitor the trap -  a kitten screen may be what you need. The screen slides into the trap just in front of the trip plate and has an opening wide enough for only small kittens to pass through. It fits Tomahawk models 206NC, 606NC and 608NC.