Setting trapsRecommended trapsHard to trap cats

Preparing to trap

Here are several tips that will make trapping easier. A good place to begin is to review the Getting Started guide.

  • Community outreach. Talk with the neighbors in the area you are trapping, hand out flyers, and educate them about trap-neuter-return (TNR). Find out who feeds the cats, and get their contact information to coordinate withholding food.
  • Count the cats. Get a count on the number of untipped cats by asking neighbors and seeing who visits.
  • Withhold food. Remove all food sources 24-36 hours before trapping. This ensures cats are hungry enough to enter traps.
  • Trap training. If you have access to traps but are waiting for your appointment, zip tie open the trap (so it won't catch a cat) and feed the cats only out of the trap for several days before trapping. When cats see other cats get trapped, they start getting trap smart, and trap feeding ahead of time makes it a lot easier to trap the last few cats.

Setting traps

Here is a guide from Alley Cats about TNR. Take a look at the Getting started section on the Resources page for trapping tips.

  • Base: use newspaper, cardboard, pee pads, vinyl flooring. I find the vinyl flooring the best and easiest to clean.
  • Bait: tuna, sardines, Fancy Feast flaked fish & shrimp, and Friskies are all good options. Only use a small amount at the very front of the trap (2-3 very small piles) leading towards the trip. The main bait (1 Tbsp) is placed at the very back of the trap behind the trigger plate. Note: do not put any bait on or near the trip plate, or it will cause an early trigger and the cat can escape.
  • Placement: place the trap flush against a wall, plants, or other objects. The best spot for the trap is where they are used to eating.
  • Cover: I like to trap uncovered with close supervision of traps. If the trap is uncovered, you must be able to immediately cover the trap. If you are not able to get to the trap within 30 seconds, the trap MUST be covered during trapping.


Ensure to cover the trap within 30 seconds after trapping a cat.

Covered (tunnel)

Fold the towel so the front and back of the trap are open like a tunnel.

Recommended Traps

The Tomahawk Gravity trap is a high quality trap with a gravity door. This is similar to a Tru Catch, but has a locking mechanism for the front door. For large tomcats or single cats, Tomahawk FixNation 32" with powder coating is a good option.

Tru Catch

Tru catch traps are quiet and have a backdoor for feeding and transferring to clean cages. They work for kittens and adults.

Drop traps

Drop traps are generally used for hard to catch cats or previously caught cats. Learn to use a drop trap.

Hard to trap cats

All cats can be trapped, don't give up! Try the techniques below if you encounter a difficult cat. First, ensure you are following the steps in the Setting traps section, including using good bait, placement of thet trap, and using something on the floor of the trap.

  • Trap train. Zip tie open the trap (so it won't shut), leaving food in the trap, and see if the cat goes in overnight. You may need to remove or open the back door of the trap so the cat feels more comfortable. If needed, start with the food outside of the trap, and slowly move it to the back over several days.
  • Communicate with your neighbors. If you feed cats, so do your neighbors. Knock on doors, look for signs of bowls, post on Nextdoor, and hand out flyers. Coordinate trapping so everyone withholds food at the same time. Leave notes (repeatedly) by the food bowls.
  • Withhold food. Do not feed after trapping! Withhold food and try again the next day if you are not successful. You may need to withhold food 24-48 hours to get the cat to go in the trap.
  • Use catnip. Try catnip at the back of the trap, or under the drop trap.
  • Keep your distance. Don't stand near the trap. Wait in your car or house with the window cracked to listen for the trap.
  • Use a bait trail. Add a bait trail from the front to the back of the trap. Also put a tiny dab of food outside of the trap.
  • Be patient. You may need to wait 3-4 hours for the cat to go in the trap.

  • Still not working? Try these tips below.

  • Get a camera. Watch if the cat is going in the trap at night, how close they are getting to the trap, and what hours they are around most. Wyze V3 is affordable and high quality (requires WiFi / plug).
  • Try a drop trap. Ask on Nextdoor or contact 13th Street Cat Rescue to borrow a drop trap.
  • Bottle and string. If you keep trapping fixed cats, try the bottle and string method. Attach a half filled water bottle to a string. Prop open the trap door with the bottle. Wait until the target cat is eating in the trap, and pull the string quickly to remove the bottle, shutting the door. You’ll want to use enough food in the trap so the fixed cats can eat and leave.