Safe, Humane Trapping: Essentials

Cats must be hungry to enter a trap for bait! 

  • Withhold food 24hrs prior to trapping. 
  • Place bait at the very back of the trap so the cat must step on the trip pan to reach the food. SMALL amounts of bait can be used as a trail to entice the cat to go in. 
  • Partially cover the trap with a large towel. Set the trap and move away from the area.  


A trap should be kept within view or checked FREQUENTLY.

  • ~Every 15-30 minutes. ALWAYS keep track of how many traps have been set, and NEVER leave a set trap unattended. A cat can die from hypothermia or heat stroke when confined in a trap outside.
  • If the cats aren’t going into the traps, try removing covers, changing bait or repositioning traps.
  • Be patient. At each trap, wait for a cat to enter and for the trap to close, then approach calmly.


If you trap a cat that appears seriously injured or ill, do not hold until surgery. Seek veterinary help immediately.

  • Cats may panic after being trapped. Do not be alarmed. Covering the trap fully should calm them down almost immediately. 
  • Move the trap to a safe, temperature-controlled space. Use heavy gloves when handling occupied traps.
  • NEVER open the traps or touch the cats. 
  • ...EVEN if a cat appears it may be hurting itself. And EVEN if the cat seems friendly 
  • (ANY trapped animal can act unpredictably or inflict injury). 


Remember: the only time cats should be removed from traps is during surgery and when you return them to their outdoor homes.

Throughout trapping, transport, recovery, and return, take steps to minimize stress by keeping cats covered and keeping the environment around them as calm and quiet as possible.

If holding a cat for an extended period of time (more than a few hours):

  • Place newspaper or absorbent pads beneath traps to aid cleanup of waste and spills. 
  • Protect the cats from ants/insects, inclement weather, and extreme temperatures.
  • Provide food and water.  Use a trap divider if available.  Otherwise, wait until the cat is calm and at the back of the trap. Cats usually prefer to stay covered. Uncovering the front of the trap may encourage the cat to stay put. Lift the bait door JUST high enough to insert a small dish.


After surgery, hold for recovery. Monitor for prolonged bleeding, difficulty in breathing, extreme lethargy, or vomiting. After 24 hours of recovery cats are ready for return. They should be fully awake and alert and show no signs of concern. If this is not the case, follow-up veterinary attention may be required, but this is rare.

NEVER attempt to relocate a cat after recovery by releasing it in a new area.

The belief that cats will easily adjust to an unfamiliar location is a MYTH.

See Pinellas County Ordinance section 14-37 for details on TNVR regulations.