How to Transfer a Feral Cat from a Kennel to a Pet Carrier or Humane Trap

Stray and feral cat caretakers may encounter a situation when they need to capture one of the colony members to treat an injury, illness or to spay or neuter the cat as part of a TNR program (TNR = Trap, Neuter/Spay and Release). In yesterday’s article, we discussed the steps for transferring a feral cat from a trap to a kennel, which is vital if you plan on keeping the animal for more than 12 hours. In today’s article, we’ll explore how to safely transfer the cat from a kennel into a pet carrier or trap, for transport to a veterinary clinic.

Humane traps, such as those manufactured by Havahart, are typically used to catch cats. In fact, you can read our related article with information on how to trap a feral cat (or another animal) using a humane trap. But if you have to keep an animal for more than 12 hours, you’ll need to transfer the animal from the trap and into a kennel so he can have access to bedding, a litter box, food and water, along with a bit of room to move around. Unfortunately, though, this means you’ll need to transfer the feral cat back into the trap or a pet carrier when it’s time for treatment at the veterinary clinic.

You’ll need the following items for this process:

  • Two long-sleeved shirts
  • A thick jacket
  • Leather gloves
  • A humane trap or pet carrier
  • Newspaper or puppy pads
  • A piece of cardboard
  • Sheet or blanket

Please note that the trap or pet carrier must be large enough to fit completely inside the kennel.

Begin by lining the bottom of the pet carrier or humane trap with several sections of newspaper. If you’re using a traditional pet carrier, you can use puppy pads instead (but avoid puppy pads in a humane trap, as they’re thin and they don’t provide sufficient padding to protect the animal’s feet from the wire floor.)

If you’re using a humane trap, remove the “back door” panel, situated opposite the trap end. This panel slides up and out of the trap.

Don two long-sleeved shirts, a thick jacket and leather gloves to protect yourself from scratches and minor bites. The layers are key! Please note that if the staff at a veterinary clinic see that you’ve been scratched or bitten by an unvaccinated animal, they may be required to report the incident to animal control. This results in mandatory anti-rabies vaccinations for you and a 10-day quarantine for the animal.

Next, open the kennel door and remove all extraneous items from the interior, including the litter box, food bowl and water bowl.

At this point, it’s likely that the cat will be sitting in a rear corner of the kennel. Use this position to your advantage. Slide the open end of the carrier or trap into the kennel and toward the cat. Once the front of the trap or carrier touches the animal’s body, push it forward gently, toward the kennel wall. This will force the animal to go inside the carrier/trap.

If you’re using a Havahart trap or a pet carrier with a removable front door, this is the point where you’ll slide the door into place (between the trap and the kennel wall.) Once the door is in place, slide the carrier out of the kennel and secure the door. On Havahart traps, the rear door has a metal clip that must be affixed to the bottom. Otherwise, the cat can simply slide the door open and escape.

If you’re using a pet carrier with a non-removable door, you’ll need to use a piece of cardboard to block the opening, so the cat doesn’t run out of the carrier when you pull it away from the kennel wall. Hold a piece of cardboard against the opening and pull the carrier out of the kennel. Then, simply swing the door closed and pull out the cardboard just before you secure the door.

Place a sheet or blanket over the top and sides of the carrier or trap to help calm the animal. To reduce stress, it’s best to get the cat into the carrier or trap immediately before transport.

Be sure to secure the trap or carrier once it’s inside your vehicle. I typically wrap a seatbelt around the carrier, so the animal doesn’t go airborne in the event of an accident. It’s also possible to place the carrier on the floor, between the front seat and the dashboard or on the floor between the back of the front seat and the rear seat. This will prevent the carrier or trap from sliding around or toppling over during transit.

Also, while transporting the animal, avoid playing loud music during the car ride. Cats and other animals have extremely sensitive hearing. The experience is already frightening; you want to avoid creating even more distress due to a loud radio. In addition, do not smoke while transporting the animal. Hot ashes tend to fly around the car and they may land on the animal, resulting in singeing and burns.

It’s important to note that many veterinary clinics require that feral cats and un-tame strays arrive in a humane trap (with one animal per trap). This helps to ensure the safety of the staff and the animal. Humane traps open at both ends and they’re cage-like in structure, which makes it easier to observe the animal and it also makes it easier to remove the animal when it’s time for treatment. Other clinics accept normal pet carriers, so be sure to consult with your vet before the appointment!

In addition, stray and feral cat caretakers may also enjoy reading about how to transfer an un-tame animal from a trap to a kennel — vital if you’re keeping the animal for more than 12 hours.

Photo Source: Piotr Matlak 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.

3 Responses

  1. Mirana
    | Reply

    Trapping the mother as quickly as possible is essential once the kittens are taken to avoid another litter and putting her through the stress of pregnancy and birthing – AND having to look for and trap kittens and find homes for them, if you are lucky enough to find and capture them.

    • Mia Carter
      | Reply

      Hi Mirana!

      That’s a wonderful point! Typically, I trap the mother cat and all of the kittens at once, as I’ve found it’s less stressful to be in captivity (vs. being in the wild without her kittens.)
      It’s also vital to catch all of the kittens at once, because a lone kitten is likely to die from exposure or predation!

      I’ve addressed some of the concerns and complications associated with trapping feral kittens and mama cats in today’s article!

      Mia Carter
      Pet Writer,

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