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How to Get a Feral Cat Into a Carrier: 14 Expert Tips & Tricks

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	Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Feral cats can be unique and challenging animals to deal with. They’re often skittish and easily spooked, making it difficult to get them into a carrier (which can also be used as traps) if you’re trying to transport them. Whether you’re trying to take them to the vet, transport them to a new location, or just keep them safe, it can be quite a daunting task. But with a little patience, preparation, and some helpful tips, you can master the art of feral cat wrangling and make the process a little less stressful for both you and these aggressive felines.

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The 14 Tips to Get a Feral Cat Into a Carrier


Before attempting to lure a feral cat into a carrier, please review the laws of your city, state, and country to ensure that it is legal for you to attempt trapping a feral cat. In some jurisdictions, trapping feral cats may be against the law.

1. Understand Feral Cat Behavior

Before discussing how to wrangle these cats, let’s talk a bit about their behavior. Feral cats, unlike stray cats, aren’t socialized to humans and often live in colonies. They’re typically afraid of people and will avoid contact whenever possible. These cats are also very territorial and will defend their territory against any perceived threat. This can make it difficult to approach them, especially if they feel cornered or trapped. So, it’s important to approach feral cats with caution and knowledge of their potential reactions.

They may hiss, growl, or try to scratch or bite if they feel threatened. It’s best to give them plenty of space and avoid sudden movements or loud noises. If you’re trying to trap a feral cat, be sure to use a humane trap and follow the proper procedures to ensure their safety.

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2. Create a Safe and Calm Environment

Feral cats are often afraid of unfamiliar environments and people. To make the process of getting them into a carrier easier, it’s best to create a safe and calm environment that they will feel comfortable in. This could mean setting up a quiet room or a safe outdoor area where they can explore and feel secure.

One way to help calm a feral cat is to use a pheromone spray or diffuser. These products release calming scents that can help reduce anxiety and stress in cats. You can also try playing soft, soothing music or using a white noise machine to create a calming atmosphere.

Another important factor in creating a safe and calm environment is to use positive reinforcement. This means rewarding the cat for good behavior and ignoring bad behavior. For example, if the cat approaches the carrier, give them a treat or some praise. If they hiss or growl, ignore them and give them some space.

Cat explores crate carrier
Image Credit: Kurteev Gennadii, Shutterstock
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3. Use Food and Treats to Lure the Cat into the Carrier

One of the most effective ways to get a feral cat into a carrier is to use food or treats to lure them inside. This works especially well if the cat is hungry or curious. Place the carrier in the cat’s environment and leave the door open with some food or treats inside. Allow the cat to approach the carrier on their own terms and explore it at their own pace.

If the cat is hesitant to enter the carrier, try placing treats or food just inside the entrance. You can also try using a fishing pole toy or a laser pointer to guide them into the carrier. Be patient and allow the cat to approach the carrier at their own pace.

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4. Use Toys

Another effective technique is to use toys. Feral cats are known to be curious and playful, so introducing a toy that they can play with inside the carrier can be a great way to distract them and make them feel more comfortable. You can also try using a laser pointer or other similar toys that will keep the cat’s attention focused away from the carrier while you sneak them inside.

Cat hunting to toy mouse at home
Image Credit: Viacheslav Lopatin, Shutterstock
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5. Handle Feral Cats with Care

When handling feral cats, remember they are not like domestic cats. Feral cats are not used to human contact and may become agitated or scared if they feel threatened. Use gloves and a towel to handle the cat if necessary and avoid sudden movements or loud noises. It’s best to grab the cat on the back of the neck to avoid having it scratch or bite you. Grabbing the cat in this area does not harm the cat and is the safest way to transport them into the carrier.

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6. Wrap Them in a Towel

You can try using a blanket or towel to wrap the cat in before placing them in the carrier. This will help to keep them calm and make them feel more secure. You can also try placing the carrier in a quiet and dark room, which will help to reduce any stress or anxiety that the cat may be feeling.

cat lying on a green towel
Image Credit: Danica Stradecke, Unsplash
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7. Camouflage the Carrier

Burlap or other natural materials can be used to cover the carrier. Place leaves, small branches, or palm fronds around the carrier’s top, sides, and floor. Make sure that your disguise does not interfere with the carrier door’s closing. Before you set it up, make sure to test it.

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8. Use Humane Traps for Feral Cats

If you need to trap a feral cat for transport or medical treatment, it helps to use a humane trap. These traps are designed to safely capture the cat without causing harm or injury. They typically have a door that closes when the cat steps on a trigger plate.

When using a humane trap, always follow the proper procedures to ensure the cat’s safety. This includes placing the trap in a safe and secure location, using a bait that the cat is familiar with, and checking the trap regularly to ensure the cat is not trapped for too long.

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9. Slide a Stick Inside

If the cat has mastered the art of stepping lightly to avoid traps being triggered, slide a stick through one of the side holes. The trap will be located just in front of the trigger plate and a few inches from the trap floor. The trap will spring when the cat is forced to step over it. The cat’s paw will hit the trigger plate directly above the trap floor, causing the trap to be triggered and the door to shut.

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10. Purchase a Drop Trap

If the box trap isn’t enough, consider using a drop trap. This is a large mesh box you set up on a table and then manually trigger with a string or rope. Drop traps are too large to be handled alone so it’s best to place them on flat ground. You can prop the trap with a stick, a bottle or a string tied to a string. The string should be long enough that you can hide from the trap a few feet away.

You should always bait the trap with lots of food in case any cats that you don’t want to trap get in on it. Do not release the trap before your target cat is in it. If the feral cat sees other cats trapped, they will flee. After you have caught your target cat, place a sheet on top of the trap. To make it easier for you to hold the cat, transfer her to a carrier or box trap and then transport her.

Humane Cat Trap for Stray Cats 24inch Live Animal Trap

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11. Place Traps Side by Side

You can use this to your advantage if your feral cat prefers to circle around the trap rather than entering it to find the food. Two box traps should be placed next to each other with their entrances facing in opposite directions. If the cat circles around one trap it might walk into the one next to it.

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12. Use the Kittens

If the feral cat has kittens and you’re able to capture them, place the kittens in a carrier or other box trap. Then place the door against the back of the trap you intend to use to catch the mother.

Cover everything except the trap’s entrance with a towel or dark sheet. The mother will believe she’s seeing her kittens through the tunnel, and she will enter her trap to reach them. Be sure to keep the kittens warm if it’s cold outside by covering their trap or carrier with a towel and placing two heat packs or hot water bottles underneath.

kittens in the grass with their mother
Image Credit: Petrik Ondrej, Shutterstock
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13. Use Your Smartphone

Your cellphone could be a great help if a timid kitten or mother cat won’t allow you to put them in a trap. For this tip, play a video of the kittens meowing on your smartphone, then place it at the back of the box or drop trap. Kittens that are afraid or alone might race to join the other kittens in the trap. The mother cat might think her kittens are calling and may enter the trap to search them.

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14. Get Help from Animal Rescue Organizations

If you’re struggling to get a feral cat into a carrier or need assistance with trapping or transporting them, consider reaching out to a local animal rescue organization. These organizations often have experience working with feral cats and can provide advice and support. They may also be able to provide humane traps or other tools and supplies to help with the process. In some cases, they may even be able to assist with the trapping and transport of the cat.

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Wrapping Things Up

Wrangling a feral cat into a carrier can be a challenging task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done safely and efficiently. The key is to be patient and persistent, and to make sure that you are creating a comfortable and familiar environment for the cat. With a bit of creativity and some patience, you’ll be able to successfully transport your feral cat without causing them any unnecessary stress or physical risks.

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Featured Image Credit: zossia, Shutterstock