Gear: Trap

For those times when you need to set a trap in the tree for a difficult cat, you want a trap that is reliable, secure, and easy to install. One of the most popular traps used, especially by Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) groups, is the Tru Catch 30LTD (first trap on left above) which is available from Tru Catch and Animal Care Equipment and Services (ACES). This trap is widely used, proven, and well suited for use in a tree as well. However, it is important to understand the design features of this trap in order to prevent problems that can occur when used in a tree.

The Tru Catch trap was designed primarily for trapping feral cats, but, sometimes, unwanted animals, such as an opossum, raccoon, or skunk could get trapped instead. In order to make it easy and safe to release those animals, the front door of the trap is designed to fall open when the trap is turned upside down. This allows a person to approach the trap safely from the back end, slowly turn the trap upside down, and leave the area while the animal escapes from the front. As long as the trap is right side up, the rings on the front door should keep the door closed, but I have seen strange things happen to allow a cat to escape, especially when the trap is tilted or moved a certain way. It's best to prevent any accidental opening of the front door by locking it closed with a small carabiner, wire-tie or whatever hardware works securely to hold the rings down or the door closed. A similar problem can occur with the back door as well, especially when the trap is tilted upward causing the back door latch to swing away from the latching part of the frame. Some cats have been known to lift that door open, so, again, it is best always to lock that back door in a similar manner to prevent an escape.

Tomahawk Live Trap has designed a trap (middle trap above) to address those issues. It is very similar to the Tru Catch trap except the front door has a mechanism that automatically locks it closed when the door closes. The back door also includes a latch that prevents any accidental opening. I have used both the Tru Catch and the Tomahawk traps in the tree, and both work well as long as you do something to prevent the accidental opening of the doors on the Tru Catch trap. I find the Tomahawk more convenient, however, because their design connects the two locking rings together which makes it much easier to open the front door with one hand. That also makes the locking rings heavier and more likely to fall when the door closes.

The dimensions of both traps (9" X "11" X 30") are roughly the same and work for most cats. However, when you are trapping a cat that is larger or more trap-wary than usual, you may want to use a larger trap to make it less frightening to the cat. Both trap makers make a larger trap which they call a Big Cat or Fat Cat trap. The Tru Catch Fat Cat trap is currently 12" X 14" X 30" and the Tomahawk Big Cat trap is 12" X 12" X 36" (last trap on right above). Otherwise, their design is the same as their smaller trap. It is usually fairly easy to accommodate the extra width and height of the trap in the tree, but accommodating the extra length of the Tomahawk trap can be a significant problem in many cases. While I like the locking mechanisms of the doors on the Tomahawk traps, I would be more inclined to use the Tru Catch Fat Cat trap in a tree since it is not any longer than the regular trap.

One advantage to the Tomahawk traps is that the back door can be completely removed and replaced with an optional clear door to help encourage trap-wary cats to enter. If the cat can see completely through the trap, he may feel safer and less afraid to enter.

I always prepare the trap with a comfortable floor cut from thick, rubbery toolbox liner or shelf liner. I hold the floor in place using heavy duty coated wire ties in each corner and make sure the ties do not interfere with the operation of the trap. This floor gives the cat a more secure grip, especially when it's angled downward, and it's simply more comfortable on his paws than the wire mesh. It's also easy to clean afterward. The liner covers the floor from the entrance all the way to the trailing edge of the trigger plate.

When it's time to lower the captured cat to the ground, it is certainly acceptable to lower the trap in the vertical orientation, but, ideally, I prefer to lower the trap in its natural horizontal orientation if there is enough space to do so. In that case, I have a short rope designed for that purpose which connects to both diagonally opposed corners of the trap and has a connecting loop in the center where I attach the lowering rope.

In those cases where the trapped cat needs to be carried a long distance back home, I find the thin wire handles of traps to be fairly painful on my fingers. To make it more comfortable, I have a short piece of small PVC pipe with a slot cut along the length where the wire handle(s) can fit. The outside of the pipe is covered with a piece of double-sided carpet tape, and the tape holds a piece of pipe insulation in place around the pipe. This makes a huge difference in my comfort.

I have an accessory bag which is dedicated to all the items I may need for the trap, and that bag can be easily attached to my harness whenever I install or retrieve a trap. The bag contains the trap cover, lashing straps, extra lashing straps in case I drop one, bungee cords, the food, a bowl and spoon for the food, the rope for lowering the trap in the horizontal orientation, and the comfort handle.

Cat-Handling Gear:  Miscellaneous   >>>