How To Catch Stray Cats

2 black kittens and 2 gray kittens

Consider the following scenarios:
1. You look out your window and see a little stray cat or kitten outside. You decide to feed it and eventually decide that you want to bring it inside as a pet, but everytime you try to go near it, the cat runs away.

2. You see that a stray cat has given birth to a litter of kittens. You want to help the kittens and get the mother cat spayed, but everytime you try to catch them they run away from you.

The above scenarios are all too common, but thankfully there are ways to safely catch stray cats and kittens.

Try Feeding the Cats or Kittens Outdoors

If you put food out at night on a regular basis you may be able to make friends with the cat or kittens. Even tame cats are often afraid of humans they don't know. If you continue to feed the cat or kittens every evening at the same time then you will find that the strays learn what time the food is coming and over time the strays will learn to trust you and then you will be able to catch them.

However, some cats, such as feral cats and kittens will almost always run away, even from humans that feed them on a regular basis.

The best way to catch cats and kittens that run from you when you try to get near them is to obtain a humane live animal trap. You can get these from several different places. I got mine online from Tomahawk live trap. It wasn't very expensive, but you can also get them from other places. There is also the Havahart brand live animal trap that works in the same way. Sometimes local animal shelters will loan you their humane traps and sometimes volunteers from the animal shelter will come out with the traps and assist you in catching the cats or kittens.

This is how the trap works:
The traps are metal and there is a door that opens at one end. Food gets placed at the end opposite the door. There is a panel on the bottom of the trap. When the cat steps on the panel on its way into the trap to eat, the door shuts behind them. The cat is not hurt, although it may be very frightened.

Once the cat is in the trap, you can take the entire trap, with the cat in it, into your house, or to the vet or shelter. Stray cats do sometimes bite if they are scared and so it is best to just leave the cat in the trap until you either get the cat inside, or better yet, to the veterinarian's office for a checkup and vaccinations and then inside. However, don't leave the cat in the trap for too long because the cat won't have access to food and water while it is inside.

Here is a picture of a rescued stray kitten caught in a live animal trap:
rescued stray kitten

Keep in mind that any trapped kitten or cat will be very frightened while it is in the trap. The cat in the photo above was very frightened while she was in the trap, but it was good that she was caught. She has become a very much loved pet and she is also the cat that appeared in the original logo back when About Cats Online first started back in 1997.

My Cat

Here are some larger and more recent pictures of her. Her name is Natalie, but she also answers to Tinypie. She was about 12 weeks old when I caught her and so she has remained semi-feral. I've had her for almost 13 years now. As you can see from the photos she has adjusted to life indoors rather well, despite remaining a semi-feral cat.

Natalie playing with her "sister" Ang.

My cats Natalie and Ang playing together

Natalie about to eat (play with) a bowl of spring mix.

My cat Natalie about to play in a bowl of spring mix

Natalie relaxing in one of the bedrooms.

My cat Natalie relaxing

Because she is semi-feral, it took over 3 years for Natalie to let me pet her, but now before every meal time she lets me pet her and brush her and she purrs very loudly.

Even still, after all these years, she still does not allow me to pick her up. So most feral cats will never become lap cats - but I'm okay with that. She is happy and healthy and so I'm happy too.

Taking in a stray cat can be a very rewarding experience and you are truly giving the cat you take in a chance for a happy and safe life.

For more information about what to do with the stray cat once you have caught it please see the article Taking a Stray Cat Into Your Home As A Pet.