How to Transfer a Feral Cat from a Trap to a Kennel

If you’re overseeing a feral cat colony, there will come a time when you need to trap a cat for spaying/neutering or for the care of an injury or illness. If you keep an animal for more than 12 hours, you will need to transfer the animal from the trap and into a large kennel. This will enable the animal to go to the bathroom in a litter box and to eat and drink.

Many TNR programs (TNR = trap, spay/neuter and return) and veterinary clinics require that you transport the cat in a humane trap or a small pet carrier. So in addition to transferring the cat from the trap into a larger kennel, you will need to transfer the cat from the kennel back into the trap! This is no small feat when you’re dealing with an animal who is not “tame.”

Today, we’ll explore the process of transferring the cat from a trap or carrier, into a large kennel. Tomorrow, we’ll explore the process of transferring the cat from the kennel and back into a trap or a small pet carrier.

But the transfer process can be quite difficult for the cat and the caretaker alike. The key is to remain calm, keep your body covered and be quick! The same procedure can also be used for handling a wild animal or an un-tame dog.

To start, you’ll need the following items:

  • Two yard sticks
  • Leather gloves
  • Two long-sleeved shirts
  • Jeans
  • A thick jacket
  • A large kennel with fleece blankets, a litter box, food and water
  • A sheet
  • A couple large pieces of cardboard or a couple fairly large, old pillows.
  • A friend or helper

Begin by donning two long-sleeved shirts, a pair of jeans, a thick jacket and leather gloves. This will protect you from scratches and minor nips/bites. It’s important to avoid getting bitten or scratched while handling a feral cat, particularly if it has not been vaccinated. In fact, animal control-run TNR clinics are required by law to refer you to the hospital if they believe you’ve been scratched or bitten by an unvaccinated cat! So it’s vital that you put multiple layers between your skin and the cat.

Next, outfit the cage with a few blankets for bedding, a litter box, and a food bowl placed beside the kennel door. The key is that you should be able to access the bowls without fully opening the kennel door. Place a sheet over the top and sides of the kennel to help create a calming, cave-like atmosphere.
Notably, you don’t want to put the water bowl into the kennel until the cat is transferred and settled. There’s a good chance the bowl will get tipped or splashed during the transfer process or shortly thereafter (many cats will hang on the sides of the cage in an attempt to escape.)

Perform the transfer in a safe, enclosed area. I recommend using a shed or a garage, so even if the cat does escape, you won’t lose him or her. It’s fairly easy to catch or re-trap a cat who’s stuck in an enclosed area.

The first step: determine if you can fit the entire trap inside the kennel (while still providing the cat with room to walk out.) If the trap fits inside the kennel, simply place the trap inside, open the trap door and close the kennel door. Wait until the cat has emerged from the trap, then remove it.

If the trap does not fit inside the kennel, proceed by unlatching the latch that secures the trap’s back door. This door is opened by sliding it upward, but leave it in place for now.

Open the kennel door and place the back door end of the trap inside the kennel. Use the cardboard or a couple old pillows to block the open area situated above the trap. This will prevent the cat from emerging from the trap and running out via the kennel’s open door. (Most cats won’t attempt this, since it requires running toward two people.)

Next, use a yard stick to open the trap’s back door. Slide the panel up.

Some cats will run out of the trap immediately, since it will allow the feral to put more distance between them and you. Others won’t be so willing to leave the trap. For these cats, you can use the yardsticks to gently push the animal forward. I’ll use two yard sticks, as it enables me to use one to block the path back into the trap, while the other is used to gently coax the cat foward. Once you’ve moved the cat forward a bit, slide the yard stick through the center of the trap and pull out the one that’s situated more toward the back and use it to move the cat forward again. In this way, you gently move the cat forward and out of the trap.

Once the cat is out, slowly slide the trap and the pillows out of the cage door and secure it.

Wait until the cat is calm before you attempt to provide a water bowl. It may take an hour or two before the cat is calm.

Many ferals will remain very calm, still and non-aggressive while you’re providing fresh food and water or sliding the litter box in or out of the kennel for cleaning. Other cats get very combative. So until you know how this specific cat will react, use extreme caution (and leather gloves, plus several layers of clothing!) to keep yourself safe.

Read our related article with tips for using a Havahart or another humane trap for catching a feral cat or stray and be sure to stop by tomorrow for tips on transferring a cat from a large cage to a trap or carrier.

Photo Source: ZyFranklin on

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Mia Carter is a professional journalist and animal lover. Her furry family members include 6 dogs and 12 cats. She is also a feral cat colony caretaker. Carter specializes in pet training and special needs pet care. All of her animals have special needs such as paralysis, blindness, deafness and FIV, just to name a few. She also serves as a pet foster parent and she actively rehabilitates and rescues local strays and feral kittens.

4 Responses

  1. Nicole
    | Reply

    Thanks for sharing this. You really find time to share this and all the items needed. This are for all the pet lovers out there. Keep up the good work!

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