Live-Capture Trapping Of Domestic Cats

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Since the pioneers settled in Utah, bringing with them their personal pets and livestock, there has been a need to control animals when off the owner's property. Historically, estray livestock were held by neighbors or impounded by police until claimed by their owners. Dogs and cats have not always been accorded this same degree of care.

In rural areas, it was common to simply shoot or poison stray dogs due to a fear of rabies or 'hydrophobia' or from potential threat of injury or death to farming livestock. Cats were seen to control rats and mice, therefore, little was done to control them.

In urban areas, 'animal control departments' were created to capture and confine stray dogs, while little attention was paid to cats. Even now, many animal ordinances fail to include cats. Complaints associated with unrestrained cats included: fighting, breeding, destruction of wild and domestic birds, noise or 'caterwauling', digging or depositing animal waste in gardens and sand boxes, urine 'spraying', damage to vehicles, etc.

Common neighborhood 'cat control', up until the early 1970's, included shooting, poisoning, leg-hold traps, and drowning. At about this time, the Humane Society of Utah and Wasatch Front animal control agencies began providing a more humane option to complaining residents -- the live-capture trap. The Humane Society of Utah no longer makes these traps available because of the cost of replacement due to damage and theft.

The trap consists of a rectangular, wire-mesh cage which is placed in the complainant's property and 'baited' with food. A cat entering the cage steps across a metal plate or 'trigger', which, when depressed, pulls a connecting rod, releasing a spring-loaded door, which falls and locks in place behind the cat.

The cat can then be transported to the local animal control agency where it is held for the locally-mandated minimum holding period to allow the animal's owner time to find and reclaim it.

If the following conditions are met, live-capture trap use is a legal means of resolving unrestrained cat complaints:

  • The trap must not injure the animal
  • The trap must be placed on property legally controlled by the person setting the trap
  • The trap should not be set during inclement weather
  • The trap must be checked frequently
  • Once caught, the animal must, without substantial delay, be turned over to the local animal control agency