Feral/Stray Cats

Do you see cats??

We rely on caring people in the community to help control the stray and feral cat population. Trapping and altering stray and feral cats is one of the kindest things you can do to improve their lives and end the cycle of wild kitties being born into suffering. There is no charge to spay or neuter a feral or stray cat.  We do accept and greatly appreciate donations.  No feral or stray will be turned away.  Please note, it is our policy to EARTIP ALL FERAL CATS.  In addition, all feral cats receive a Rabies  & FVRCP vaccination and are De-Wormed.  It is recommended (NOT required) that all feral cats be tested for Feline Leukemia(FeLV)/Feline Immuniodeficiency Virus (FIV) at a cost of $25 per cat.

BSNP offers live traps for rent to assist in the trapping of feral/stray cats in your neighborhood.  Traps rented from BSNP are to be used for Trap, Neuter, Return only.  Trap, Neuter, Return is a humane and effective way to control the feral cat population.  Feral cats are trapped, brought to BSNP for surgery and vaccination, kept overnight in a carrier or trap and re-released in the same location the following day.  Please inquire with our staff, or go to www.alleycat.org for more information about outdoor cats and the practice of Trap, Neuter, Return. Thank you for making an effort to help cats in our community!

If you are having problems with unwanted feral cats that have already been spayed and neutered in your yard, please go to www.alleycat.org for tips and tricks to keep cats out of your yard.

(We ask that you do not use BSNP traps for the purpose of trapping wildlife.  Any issue with wildlife in need of relocation can be addressed through the Department of Fish and Wildlife.)


  • Borrow a humane live trap from our clinic. We ask for a $35.00 refundable deposit per trap. You may use the trap up to two weeks.  If you still need to continue trapping please give us a call and let us know you need to keep the trap. (Please call ahead to make sure we have one available.)
  • Follow the Feral Cat Trapping Instructions listed above.  Once trapped, bring the kitty in to the clinic in the trap. PLEASE LEAVE THE CAT IN THE TRAP.  Do not attempt to transfer it to a carrier.  There is no need for an appointment for feral cats, but we ask that they be here between 8-9am.
  • Please keep trap covered with sheet or towel to reduce stress on the cat!
  • Pick the cat up in the afternoon. Have a plan for keeping the cat indoors in a garage or other warm area in the trap overnight and then release the next morning.

Detailed Instructions for Trapping Feral Cats

Before You Begin

  • The first step is to get the cats used to being fed at the same place and same time of day. Early morning or at dusk are the best times for trapping, but the cats will learn to come at whatever meal time you set for them. Consistency is important.
  • If someone else is feeding the cats, speak to them and let them know what your plans are so that they can withhold food at the appropriate times and assist you in catching cats in a timely manner.
  • Plan to set the traps and catch the cats on the day before you plan on bringing them to BSNP.  This would need to be on Tues, Wed, or Thurs. evenings.  If the cats have been consistently eating in the traps each day, it is not necessary to withhold food; just use the regular food at the regular time. Never leave a cat in a trap for more than 12 hours.
  • Do not trap in the rain or snow without adequate protection for the traps such as a tarp and be present so you can move the cats as soon as possible.
  • Prepare the area where you will be holding the cats after surgery. A garage, laundry room, bathroom or other sheltered, warm, protected area is best. Lay down plastic sheeting or a tarp, covered with newspapers to absorb any mess. You can use pieces of wood to elevate the traps off the newspaper to allow the mess to fall through and away from the cats. Prepare the vehicle you will use to transport the cats in the same way with a tarp and newspaper.  Do not try to transfer the cat from the trap, it will escape and/or you will get injured.  

Preparing the Traps to be Set

  • Line each trap with newspaper. A couple sheets of the daily paper folded lengthwise make a perfect trap liner. This keeps the cats from having to walk on the wire, and will help absorb any mess the cat makes while in the trap.  Be sure the newspaper does not stick out of the door, making it so the door will not close when the trap is tripped.
  • Each trap must be covered with a towel or sheet to cover. Keep the trap covered at all times. This will reduce stress on the cat and keep him/her calm.

Pre-Baiting the Traps

  • Feeding the cats in the trap prior to setting the trap is called “pre-baiting”. This is a very important step in the trapping process. Optimally you would pre-bait the traps for 3 days prior to trapping.
  • Place the traps in the area where you normally feed the cats. · Securely wire or zip-tie the door into the open position.
  • Feed the cats at a time when you will be available to monitor the traps.
  • Place the food on a small paper or plastic dish at the far end of the trap so the cat has to go all the way into the trap. Be sure the cat does not have access to the food from outside of the trap. Do not put food anywhere other than inside the trap during this process.
  • Use the cats’ regular food, only leave enough for the cat(s) you are intending to catch, and pick up what is left after each meal. Do not leave food in the traps all day or night; this will encourage animals that are not your targets, such as neighbor cats and wildlife.
  • Once you start this pre-baiting process, do not put any food outside the traps; the cats are learning that it’s necessary and safe to go into the trap to eat. Several days of pre-baiting are ideal, but even one or two days will be helpful.

Setting the Traps

  • On trapping day set the traps just before the cats’ normal feeding time. If trapping in a public area, try to place the traps where they will not be noticed by a passerby who may not understand what you are doing.
  • To set the trap, open the trap door by pushing the top of the door in and pulling the bottom of the door upward. There is a small hook attached to one side of the trap top. It hooks onto a tiny metal cylinder on the right side of the door. The hook holds the door in an open position which also raises the trip plate. When the cat steps on the plate, it will cause the hook to release the door and close the trap.
  • Cover the trap with a towel, leaving the open end uncovered and set it in the area where the cats eat, preferably in a dark, quiet area that is hidden or semi hidden.
  • Make sure the trap is on solid, level ground. If necessary, use another towel under the trap to make sure it doesn’t wobble.

 Waiting for Success

  • When you get the captured cat to a quiet area lift the cover and make sure you haven’t trapped a pet  (meowing or otherwise acting tame) or previously neutered feral (look for an ear tip). There is a chance of catching a wild animal or an unintended cat attracted to the food in the trap. If this occurs, simply release the animal as described in the releasing instructions, and then reset the trap.


  • When you pick up the cats from the clinic, they will still be groggy from their anesthesia.
  • You will receive an After Care Instructions for Ferals form upon pick up. All of the information you need to know about what to watch for is on this form.
  • The cats will spend a night in the traps in the area you have prepared for them to recover, and be released the next day in the same area where they were trapped.
  • Do not transfer the cat from the trap to a carrier. The cats actually do better in the trap and it’s cleaner for the cat as well.
  • Feed the cat the night you pick them up from surgery if they are sitting up, and again in the morning before release. Place a small amount of canned cat food (1/4 can) on a paper plate. Place the trap over the food so the cat can reach the food without you opening the door of the trap.
  • Do not open the trap until the next morning when the cat is being released. The only exception to this is to slip some food into the trap once the cat is at home in their recovery area if you can do this safely, without letting the cat escape. If possible have someone else distract the cat while opening the door an inch. Cats will try to escape out of small openings, so it’s best to only open the trap as a last resort to feeding the cat.
  • Do not place a water dish in the trap, feeding canned food gives them the moisture they need for the time while they are in the trap.
  • It is best if the cat eats before he or she is released, but do not be concerned if the cat is not interested in the food. Sometimes they are too scared and stressed to eat.
  • All cats recovering from anesthesia are unpredictable and should be kept quiet. Even if this is a tame stray, do not open the trap door or attempt to handle the cat. This can have serious consequences such as the cat getting loose in an area that is not familiar to them, injury to the cat or injury to you.
  • If a cat does try to escape do not try to grab him/her by hand. These cats will not hesitate to bite or scratch you in this situation.

Returning the Cats

  • Do not release the cats to an area where they were not trapped. This is dangerous for the cats. Relocating cats safely to a new location requires additional preparation.
  • When ready, turn the latched door away from you, unclip and remove it, and let the cat run out.
  • NEVER PUT YOUR HAND IN THE TRAP. If the cat does not go out immediately, walk away from the trap and watch from a distance until the cat leaves the trap.

Lactating Females and Kittens

  • If you capture a lactating female, check the area for kittens and remember that this female must be released 10-12 hours after surgery so she can care for and nurse her kittens. A lactating female will continue to make milk after being spayed and can return to nursing kittens.
  • Females with kittens will be attracted by the sounds of their kittens, if the previously captured kittens are placed in a covered carrier just behind the trap. Similarly, kittens will be easier to trap if the previously captured mother is in the carrier. Place the door of the carrier facing the rear of the covered trap. Never place the “bait” animals in the trap or anywhere they may be harmed by the trapped animal.
  • If kittens are trapped, they can be tamed. For information on taming feral kittens go to the Alley Cat Allies web site at www.alleycat.org/resources_care.html and scroll down to Homing Feral Felines.

Cleaning and Return of Traps

  • Remove all stickers, tape and newspaper.
  • Use warm, soapy water and a scrub brush to remove all remaining debris.
  • Rinse thoroughly several times with clean water.
  • Do NOT use bleach; it is damaging to the trap and bleach residue is dangerous for cats.
  • Return all borrowed traps promptly so that they may be rented out again.  We often have a waiting list for trap rentals!!
  • All traps will be safely disinfected by BSNP volunteers before they are used again.

General Precautions

  • Any bite or scratch should be taken seriously- seek medical attention immediately. If possible, DO NOT RELEASE the cat. The cat must be quarantined. Contact the animal control agency in your area for quarantine instructions.
  • For your safety: Do not put your fingers into the trap at any time, always pick the trap up by the handle on top of the trap. Keep children and pets away from the cat at all times during the trapping and recovery process.
  • If you have any questions regarding the trapping process please call BSNP at 541-617-1010.  If you are unable to reach us by phone, please email us at info@bendsnip.org.

 After Care Instructions for Ferals

Tips for Hard to Catch Cats!

The most common reason for failed trapping attempts is that the cats are easily finding food elsewhere.  Make sure there is no food available nearby and withhold food for 24 hours before trapping begins.  Establishing a routine feeding schedule for at least a week ahead of trapping helps a lot to get the cats used to feeding where you will be trapping.

Tip 1

Put food in the trap, and then use a zip tie or wire to lock the trap open.  Let the cats eat freely from the traps for a few days (such as the days the clinic is not open) and get used to entering the trap.

Then, on the trapping night, set it up exactly the same way but remove the tie and set the trap.

Tip 2

Some clever cats figure out how to get the food out through the sides or back without entering the trap.  Block the back and sides with the trap cover and rocks or cement blocks so that the only entrance is the front.  You can stabilize the trap with a cement block on the top if the ground is uneven, which also helps keep the trap from tripping without the cat inside.

 Tip 3

When trapping kittens and small cats, or a particularly smart one, such as a mother cat, try tying a chicken leg or wing from the top of the back of the trap.  While they attempt to get the meat off the bone, they are more likely to put enough pressure on the bottom plate to trip the trap.

Tip 4

Trouble with people?  Make a sign that says “Rescue in Progress – Do Not Remove” with a contact phone number may be helpful.  Insert the sign into a plastic bag to protect it from the elements.

Leave our flyers or other literature about Trap Neuter Return nearby and hand them out at the houses or businesses in the area with contact info in case anyone has concerns.

Tip 5

There are two herbs that help entice cats into trap.  Catnip, of course, is excellent.  You can buy the dried herb or a spray bottle.

Valerian is a pungent herb that cats love the smell of.  Boil it in water to make a broth that cats can’t resist and add it to the bait.

Tip 6

Trapping is very stressful on the cats, so we recommend spraying the trap liner with Feliway Spray, a pheromone product that calms cats.  It also helps them enter the trap by making them less wary!  It’s is available at the clinic as well as pet stores.

Tip 7

Make sure there is no newspaper or bedding in the first two inches of the entrance of the trap.  This can cause the door to not completely close and let the cat escape.  A cat that has been trapped and released once is very hard to catch again!

Good Luck!

For More Information on Feral Cats:

Alley Cat Allies

An incredible resource site for national feral cat issues and tips on trapping, transporting and caring for feral cat colonies.  Also provides resources for keeping feral cats out of your yard!

Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon

A wealth of information in our own backyard!  FCCO is located in Portland and is a national leader in feral cat Trap, Neuter, Return efforts.

Neighborhood Cats

The Feral Cat Experts!

Cat Fence and Containment Systems

A list of options for keeping your cat safe outdoors and reducing impact on wildlife:

How to build a Feral Cat House!