The tools you need
Having the best equipment makes practicing TNR faster and safer. As part of our mission to support trappers and caretakers, Neighborhood Cats has collaborated with Tomahawk Live Trap to develop a full line of traps, dens and other accessories specifically for community cats and Trap-Neuter-Return.
Launched in early 2021, the Neighborhood Cats gravity trap is now our favorite! The front door shuts by using gravity, not springs, so is quieter and safer than comparable spring-loaded traps. This model has advantages over other gravity traps, including an auto-lock on the front door, an attached rear door lock and the easy-to-set trigger. In addition, the rear door is recessed one inch and protected by steel bars, preventing damage to the frame during normal handling. It comes with a large handguard, double handles, an extra-wide trip plate and powder-coating is standard. Dimensions are 30"L x 9"W x 11"H and it weighs 9 lbs. (Note: due to the recessed rear door, there is one inch less room at the back to place your bait dish).
A recent innovation from Tomahawk is the auto-latch release door, which is the rear door of the trap. It causes the rear door to automatically lock when the door is pushed all the way down. When you want to open the rear door, the latch is pulled outwards. At Neighborhood Cats, we prefer the standard release rear door which locks with a spring clip. That's because the auto-latch can jam and become difficult to open if the rear of the trap gets slightly bent or out of alignment, which is not a rare occurrence as a trap ages and is repeatedly used.
When designing this trap, we worked off the standard Tomahawk model and added an extra-wide trip plate so cats can't step over it, a pair of extra-long handles to make it easier to carry a captured cat, a large handguard plate for protection and placing labels, and a simple rear door lock. Model 606NC, pictured here, has a little more interior space than the Neighborhood Cats Gravity Trap at 30"L x 10"W x 12"H and weighs 10 lbs. For those who like a bigger trap, there's the 36" long Model 608NC. We also designed a collapsible version of the 30" trap (model 206NC) which opens with a tug on the handles. Note with the collapsible trap, it uses roll hooks to attach the rear door and these hooks get easily tangled when one collapsed trap is laid on top of another, so separate them with towels or sheets.
The Neighborhood Cats Drop Trap was the first commercially available drop trap and remains best in class. Drop traps are great for trapping hard-to-catch cats, selectively trapping particular cats, and catching multiple cats at once. Compared to normal box traps, cats are much less fearful of entering one. The trap is operated manually (either with a string or remote control) so the trapper decides when to drop it. For much more on drop traps and how to use them, plus a look at one in action, go to our Drop Traps page. Our model is all metal and folds flat in a suitcase-style for easy transport. Dimensions are 36"L x 36"W x 14"H and weight is 18 lbs.
If you're going to transfer the cats out of the drop trap and into a box trap or transfer cage with dimensions smaller than 10"W x 12"H, you'll need an adaptor to reduce the size of the opening of the drop trap's side door.
These carriers for feral and difficult-to-handle cats can be used for both transport and housing. The sliding front door allows simple transfer of a cat into the den from out of a trap with a sliding rear door. If the den is then placed inside a cage, the cat can be released (and re-captured) by tipping the side porthole door up or down, without opening the cage door. See Fostering Feral Cats Safely for more on using dens in cages. The Neighborhood Cats model has a side door lock, rounded corners on the front door to avoid chipping, a longer than usual handle and a secure front door lock. Available in white, gray or tan.
Trap dividers, also known as trap isolators, are essential tools for TNR practitioners. A pair of them make it possible for traps to double as cages during TNR projects (see Caring for Cats in Traps). During trapping, a divider can be used to separate two cats caught in the same trap, facilitate transfer of a cat from a trap into a transfer cage or feral cat den or shoo a cat out of a drop trap. For veterinarians and spay/neuter clinics, a divider can be used to pin a cat against one end of a trap, allowing injection of an anesthetic. Only two models on the market are heavy duty enough to be safely used for these purposes - the model TD12NC pictured here and Tru-Catch model TD-2. Both will work in almost all wire mesh traps.
One way to lure a savvy cat into a trap is by tricking him into believing there's another way out if he enters through the front. A see-through rear door accomplishes this. The model 1012 fits Tomahawk traps with 10"W x 12"H frames like the 606NC and 608NC. Other models are available for different sized Tomahawk traps. One important note of caution - you must remain at all times within sight of the trap if you use this accessory. Once captured, a frightened cat may keep trying to get out the transparent rear door and, unless covered quickly, could hurt herself.
- Trap mats
Trap mats are used to cover the floor of your trap. A trail of bait is then placed on the mat, leading from the front door to the trip plate. Covering the wire mesh floor of the trap makes entering more inviting for cats and the bait trail helps draw them further in. Made from PVC flooring, the mats are reusable, washable and durable plus heavy enough not to blow around in the wind. You can purchase custom-fitting mats from Tomahawk Live Trap like the TM606NC (made for the 606NC trap). Or if you have a lot of traps and want to go the budget route, purchase a roll of Rubber-Cal Coin Grip Metallic PVC Flooring on Amazon and cut up the mats yourself. An 8 ft. x 4 ft. roll should yield approximately 24 to 30 mats. Check out the trap mat in action: