Lisa A. Pierson, DVM
Back to Drop Trap/Remote Control Trap page.
See below for a video of a drop trap in use. The reason why this cat marched under the trap right on cue was because he had been fed under it for the previous 2 weeks.
April 22, 2007
Cost and time
Applying corner hinges
Top/side PCV pieces
Side panel hasps
Building the door
Safety for the cat
This page illustrates how to make a folding drop trap out of PVC pipe. Wood is easier to work for some people but I hate sanding so I prefer using PVC pipe. Plus, PVC holds up better over time.
There are many ways to build a drop trap. See this site for another idea. Please note that the style of drop trap shown on that site is not as small (when folded down) as the one shown below that I designed. Depending on your vehicle, this may be an important issue for you.
I also have a couple of concerns about the trap style shown at the link noted above.
1) Since the sides of the wire trap are transparent (versus the solid walls on the trap design shown below), many cats will push the trap quite a distance when trying to escape. If the trap is pushed over a low spot or a curb, the cat will be able to escape out from under it. With solid walls, the cats are less apt to push the trap around.
Believe me…it does NOT take much of a gap for a cat to be able to escape out from under a drop trap! As little as 1″-2″ is enough for a panicked cat to get leverage and lift up a trap and escape.
Normally I advise people to make sure that their trapping area is AT LEAST 6′ x 6′ of solid, FLAT ground. If using a trap with transparent sides, it will be much safer to trap in an area with larger square footage of perfectly flat ground given just how far a frightened cat can move a drop trap.
I have had cats move my 30 lb trap 3-4 feet and spin it around 90 degrees.
2) The wire trap has a RIGID top versus the one shown below with flexible netting. The wire trap is also a couple of inches shorter allowing the cat to put considerable upward force on the trap. If a cat pushes up against the top of the wire trap, the entire trap will raise up immediately.
If a cat pushes up against a net top, the net will absorb the force and stretch…resulting in the trap staying in better contact with the ground.
This is a very important point since I often trap more than one cat at a time. If one cat is going up…resulting in the trap being raised off the ground…even an inch or two…the other cat could escape out the bottom.
The trap shown at the link above is MUCH easier and MUCH faster to build so, with the above caveats in mind, if you don’t want to tackle the more difficult-to-build trap below, please consider making a wire trap. However, it you do build one, I would highly suggest adding rebar to it – in an evenly-weighted fashion – to make it a 30 lb trap.
Never underestimate how much strength a scared cat can muster up. You would be amazed at how strong they can be.
Now…back to building a folding PCV pipe drop trap….
Cost and Time
The materials for this trap will cost about $90 without the netting. (I get netting donated to me.) If you purchase netting from Gourock that will run you another ~$50 – $70.
It takes me about 20 hours to build one of these but I am not known for my speed. I stand around a lot….staring at it….hoping that it will build itself. The only thing that pushes me to keep building these is the knowledge of how much suffering will be prevented when a drop trap is used to manage the feral cat population.
Front/Back Frames, Side Pieces
Start by making two end frames using 1″ PVC pipe and 90 degree 1″ elbows. The long poles are 44″ and the short ones are 10″. Using a hammer, tap the poles into the elbows so that they are seated firmly. (Be sure to do this with all of the PVC pipe and fittings.) Lay them down on a flat surface and make sure that they are properly aligned and are ‘true.’ If they are not, then just twist them into alignment.
Note on using some 3/4″ pipe versus all 1″ pipe: If using hardboard (1/4″ for the front panel and 1/8″ for the side panels) and not the lighter coroplast that I have access to, this trap ends up weighing 29.5 lbs which is perfect in my opinion – as long as you are using a tail spacer as discussed below in the Safety for the Cat section – for reasons outlined on the Drop Trap/Remote Control page. (Cats get out of lighter traps more frequently and that is not a road that I ever want to go down….after sitting for hours trying to catch that elusive ‘baby machine’ or tom cat.)
Make the 4 side pieces using both 1″ PVC pipe (horizontal piece) and 3/4″ PVC pipe (vertical piece). Note that there are 4 – 90 degree elbows that are 1″ x 3/4″ and 4 – 90 degree elbows that are 3/4″ x 3/4″. The 1″ PVC pieces are 20″ long and the 3/4″ vertical pipes are 10″ long.
Applying the Hinges
This is the most challenging part of building this trap. The hinges must be applied correctly or the trap will not fold properly. See the schematic diagram above showing the position of the drill bit when starting.
It is very important to pay attention to how you are placing your screws – keeping the cat’s safety in mind. The 4 corner hinges are applied with the head of the screws on the inside of the trap but because I use the bulkier nylon lock nuts, I have to reverse that for the side hinges otherwise they will not close properly. If you are using thin, flat nuts and cutting off the excess machine screw tip, you may be able to keep all heads of the screws on the inside of the trap.
Make sure that nothing sharp is on the inside of the trap.
As you are building this trap, it is very important to use a square (“L”) and pay attention to what needs to be parallel and what needs to be at a 90 degree angle otherwise the trap will not fold properly.
When you are drilling into a round pipe, and want to be accurate with your hole placement and not have your drill bit slip off of the pipe, you can line up your drill bit to be perpendicular to the pipe when first starting. Then as you advance the drill, you can rotate your drill around to head down the right path. This is easy to do because PVC pipe is soft and it will help you drill your holes more accurately. (See the picture above.)
I use 8-32 machine screws and nylon lock nuts which are much easier to use than liquid thread lockers such as Loctite. The machine screw lengths that I use are 1 5/8″, 1 3/4″ and 2″ – all pan or round head. I use a Dremel tool and cutoff wheels to cut off any excess length from the screws if necessary. Most of the time I am able to match up the screw length with the application so that I don’t have to cut many of them off. A 2″ screw is usually needed when going through the pipe and elbow and a 1 5/8″ screw is usually needed for the front tip of the hinge but sometimes a 1 3/4″ screw is needed there if tightening the front part of the hinge makes the side piece bowtie in. If you are not using the nylon locking nuts, and are using smaller, flatter nuts, you may need shorter screws.
Do not over-tighten the screws.
The hinge pin must be perpendicular to the ground.
This is an example of what you do not want. Note how the hinge is out of alignment in two planes. It is both tilted and rotated. Again, the hinge pin must be perpendicular to the ground. You can loosen/tighten the two back screws as needed to level out the hinge, but if it is rotated, that means you did not drill your holes properly.
This hinge is applied correctly. It is parallel with the PVC pipe (not rotated) and is flat (not tilted):
Hinge applied correctly. Note that the two vertical PVC pipes are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the ground.
These hinges were not applied as well as they should have been. Note the gap between the two vertical pieces and see how the end frame tilts backward. However, when the net is put on, it will pull the trap together nicely.
Side Hinges and Hasps
Apply the side hinges – remembering to use the L to keep the trap square. Check both sides of the trap to make sure it is square before applying the hinges.
There is a more detailed picture of this part of the trap below. Use a snap to secure the hasp.
This hasp is 1 3/4″ in length and is 3/4″ wide. The length really does not matter but the width does since there is not much room on 1″ PVC pipe. It is secured with machine screws and nuts on the underside (not shown in the picture). Note how the small piece of the hasp is applied very close to the end of the pipe. It is best if the long flat part of the hasp is as far back as possible because when it is flipped forward, it will catch up on the side panels when opening the trap. BE CAREFUL when opening these traps as the hasps are often in the way and need to be flipped back before the trap can be opened….otherwise they will get torn off or bent.
Also, there is not much room on this small piece (hidden from view by the snap) for two 8-32 machine screw heads to sit side-by-side. And there is not enough room at the bottom for the bulkier nylon lock nuts. For this reason, I use 6-32 machine screws instead of the 8-32 screws. I then use the small nuts (with Loctite) that come with the 6-32 screws which will fit side-by-side on the underside of the trap.
This is another tricky part. Note the hinges below and how the top one (Stanley Heavy Duty 4″) has two holes that are close together whereas the lower one (National HD 4″) has the two holes further apart. Now, note the picture above where I have the machine screws placed through the hasp. The National brand of hinge allows for that but the Stanley does not (unless you drill another hole in the hinge). The Stanley hinges are fine for the corners.
Top PVC Pieces
Measure the distance between the the top elbows on the side uprights taking into consideration how far the top 3/4″ PVC pipe pieces will insert into the elbows. Divide that distance by 2 and that will give you the length that you need to cut the top pieces. The length of each of the 4 top pieces should end up being ~20″. You would like for them to meet together without more than a 1/2″ gap between them. Brace the elbows while tapping the PVC pipe into them securely so as not to put too much pressure on the hinges. (I just brace them with my leg.)
Note that the side and back panels are placed on the INSIDE of the trap but the front panel with the door is placed on the OUTSIDE of the trap.
I do like to trim the boards as accurately as possible to keep light from coming in since a feral cat will start pushing and clawing at any light source with the hope of escaping. This board is not trimmed very tightly.
Please note that the hardboard shown here is an example of how NOT to do it. See that it is LOWER THAN THE PIPE and can act as a guillotine on a cat’s tail. Trim the board so that it does not go past the bottom of the pipe. This board needs about 3/4″ removed from the bottom of it so that it rests on the midline of the pipe.
I first made these traps with hardboard as shown above – using 1/4″ for the front panel due to the weight of the door and using 1/8″ for the other 3 sides. This resulted in a trap that was 29.5#. In my strong opinion, this is a perfect weight (as long as you are providing a tail gap spacer as discussed below in the Safety section) but other people may find that too heavy. That said, if you make it lighter, you *will* lose cats and you will not be able to trap multiple cats at one time with as much assurance that you won’t have one escape.
In order to make it lighter (23.5#) you can use 1/4″ Coroplast for three of the sides but this material is not readily available for most people. It is lightweight, is very durable, and is very easy to work with. It can be cut with scissors. If anyone is going to make several of these traps, it would be well-worth sourcing. I get mine locally at Plastic Depot in Gardena, CA.
I switched from hardboard to Coroplast only because it is easier and faster to work with but then I had to add rebar back to the trap to make it ~30 lbs….which it would have been if I had stuck with easy-t0-source hardboard. When I drop my trap, I want it staying where I drop it!! Some people think that heavy drop traps are dangerous but the bottom line is……pay attention to when you pull the rope! Any drop trap can injure a cat or kitten if the trapper is not careful to time the pull of the rope properly.
Important note: Do not fit the panels so that they are flush with the ground or so that they extend beyond the pipe. (See a picture above showing how *not* to have the board.) Otherwise, they have the potential of acting as a guillotine on a cat’s tail. This is especially important for the 2 side panels at the front where the cats will be sitting and eating. Cats often have their tails out past the perimeter of the trap. Fit the panels so that they end at the middle of the pipe or a bit lower. Since I use 12″ high panels, this works out well. (If you were to fit the 12″ panels flush with the ground, they would not meet the top PVC pipe rail.)
As an added safety measure, I add a 5/8″ spacer to raise the trap up in order to create a gap in case the trap were to come down on a tail. See the Safety for the Cat section below for more comments about the needed safety gap. If you are making the trap smaller (3′ x 3′) then you will need a 3/4″ spacer since the cat’s tail base will be closer to the edge of a smaller trap and a cat’s tail is thicker at it base (closer to his behind).
If you want to try and use 1/8″ hardboard for the door panel instead of the 1/4″, this will cut 2# off of the weight. You won’t have the 1/4″ material to make the sliding door (discussed below) but I suppose that you could use the 1/8″ hardboard to make a thinner sliding door.
With the dimensions of this trap, the panels are 12″ high but measure the length for each one. I fit each panel so that it goes over the hinge pin to close the gap in the corners as much as possible. (see picture below)
When securing the 3 rear panels in the back half of the trap (1 long and 2 short) just use 3 – 7″ cable ties on the sides and secure the bottom front corners (of the short side pieces) with a couple of 4″ cable ties as shown in the next picture. Don’t waste cable ties on the bottom or top of the 3 back pieces at this point in time because you will be turning the trap over and applying carpet strips (optional) to the bottom of the back half of the trap and you will be attaching the net to the top later on, going through the panels for added security.
Be sure to tuck the cut ends of these 4″ cable ties inside the pipe or else they will catch on the netting when you try to open the trap.
Keylee is supervising the carpet installation on the back half of the trap. The carpet dampens the noise when the trap drops and will scare the trapped cat(s) less, as well as the cats around the trap.
That said, keep in mind that when you are deciding when to pull the rope…pay close attention to the cats near the trap. You don’t want to scare them and so you may have to refrain from pulling the rope if you have cats that you still need to trap hanging out too closely.
It is not the end of the world because the cat that is under the trap…the one that you *could* trap now if others were not too close…will have had a good experience with the trap and they will be back. You have to prioritize things when trapping cats. If the cat under the trap is a very important one to get (an elusive baby machine or a pregnant one) then go ahead and pull the rope and hope that the cats around the trap are not scared too badly by it. It can be a split second judgment call.
You always want to get the pregnant cats first. Yes, I spay all pregnant cats no matter how far along they are. In our area, there are thousands of feral cats and we can’t even find homes for all of the tame ones that we rescue.
It is hard to see in this picture (below) but I did secure the front ends of the carpet with 2 – 4″ cable ties on each side – drilled through the ends of the pipe near the center hinges. Note in the picture above – right side – that I also drilled right through the elbow to secure the carpet.
Side Panel Hasps
When using 1/4″ Coroplast, I use 8-32 1/2″ machine screws with a washer on the other side. If you are using 1/8″ hard board and are not using the bulkier nylon lock nuts, you will need to use shorter screws and possibly more washers to act as spacers – with the bottom line being that you do not want the screw tips protruding into the trap where the cats can hurt themselves. So you will either need to use the right size screw and nut/washer combination or cut the screw tips off and file them until they are very smooth. (Note that the carpet is just on the back half.)
For the side hasp – some may want to use a clip like that shown on the bottom hasp in a picture above, but in cold weather, I find that keeping it simple works better. When my hands are cold, I do not want to fool with a snap so I just use a machine screw tied on with string as shown. If you have extra 2″ screws left over, this would be a good place for them.
Inside of side panels with 13 nylon lock nuts:
Building the Door
Update: I have found that some traps have a wire loop on the sliding back door that is quite prominent. This prevents the metal transfer trap from being pushed firmly against the frame of the drop trap and also makes it hard to slide the metal trap door up and down. See below for a modification that I have made. The relief area is 1 1/2″ wide.
Note that the original pictures below show do NOT show this cut-out area.
I use 1/4″ hardboard for the front panel. If you have been accurate in your measurements up to this point, the front panel should be 46″ long and 12″ high but double check the measurements of your trap.
Cut a square out of the panel 9″ x 9″. This size door works well with a trap that is 10″ x 12″ like a Tomahawk 608. If your trap is smaller, then you will want to make the door smaller. Just note that the smaller the door, the less enticing it will be for the cat to go through it. It can be very frustrating to be standing there with a cat that refuses to leave the drop trap to go into the wire trap.
I like to put a radius on the bottom edge of the inside of the door panel to ensure that the bottom of the sliding door slides nicely to the bottom of the door frame tunnel.
I use old molding scraps to make the door frame. It is very helpful to have the back of the molding flat so that the spacer lies flat up against the molding. Most ornate molding is not flat on the backside so using door stop for both the frame and the spacer works the best.
The molding in the picture above happens to be 1 3/8″ wide and the door stop that is acting as a spacer is 3/8″ thick and 5/8″ wide. (It will be listed as “1/2″ x 3/4″ door stop” at the lumber yard.) The sliding door panel is made from 1/4″ hard board. You can pick whatever size of wood you want to for the frame but just make sure that the spacer is 1/8″ thicker than the thickness of your sliding door. That way, the door will slide very easily. I like the door ‘sloppy.’ In other words, it fits very loosely from front to back (the 1/8″ gap) and from side to side. When you are trying to rapidly get the door down before the cat goes back into the drop trap from the wire trap, you do not want a ‘sticky’ door. It needs to be able to slide very freely.
I cut the correct lengths of the 6 pieces and then use wood glue to attach the spacers to the molding. You don’t have to do 45 degree ‘picture frame’ cuts like shown in the picture. You can just do straight cuts and it will be perfectly functional. The wood glue is just to keep the two pieces together well enough so that they don’t slip when drilling the holes for the machine screws that will be used to attach this door frame to the hardboard panel. Allow at least 1 hour for the glue to set before drilling the holes. Put the door frame onto the front panel BEFORE attaching the panel to the trap.
This view of the back of the panel shows how I use small wood screws and washers to attach the velcro piece (3/4″ wide, 6 1/2″ long) to the front panel. (I use the small screws that came with the small hasps.) Make sure that you cut off and file smooth any part of the screw tip that protrudes otherwise your door will hang up on them. The ‘hook’ part (2″ long) of the velcro is glued to the sliding door. (Superglue should work but I am using a quick bond glue from a hobby shop that works very well. Both are cyanoacrylate but the glue that I get from the hobby shop seems to bond faster and stronger than the brand Superglue. (Superglue never seems to work for me….)
Note in the above view where the machine screws attaching the door frame are placed. The bottom ones need to be as low as possible and the top ones need to be down a bit from the top otherwise, the nuts will meet the PVC pipe and create a gap. It does create a gap at the bottom but the gap is less if you put the screws as low as possible.
Pick a screw length taking into account the thickness of the molding, spacer and hardboard so you don’t have to go to the trouble of cutting off the excess screw length.
The bungee cords are hooked onto eyescrews that are screwed into the door molding.
It easier to put the eyescrews and bungee cords onto the door frame after the panel has been attached to the trap. Crimp the bungee cord hooks onto the eyescrews so they won’t get lost.
After you have attached the front panel to the trap, it is time to put the netting on the top. I am lucky enough get old fishing net donated or sold to me at low cost. It has holes in it that I repair with small (4″) cable ties but at least it is cheap.
For another source, see Gourock and type in “10” in each footage field and hit ‘calculate.’ Under “Golf Impact (not Barrier) Netting,” I would choose the #21 x 3/4″ Nylon Netting for $71. If you want to save some money, you can use the #15 x 3/4″ for $48 but I prefer a thicker netting which may prevent injuries to a cat’s or kitten’s eyes and paws.
You will need a 5′ x 5′ piece but I notice that when I type in 5′ x 5′, it is the same price as 10′ x 10′ so you may as well get some extra netting for the same price, if that is the case.
I have never used Gourock’s netting but I assume that it is a high quality product that will last for a very long time. That said, do not leave your trap out in the sun since the netting will degrade with exposure.
Make sure that you secure the netting very well! Never underestimate the ability of a panicked feral cat to get though a very small hole. Even if they don’t get out, they can injure themseleves if their head gets caught in a gap.
It is important to secure corners are VERY well! The corners seem to be a common place for a trapped feral to focus on as an escape route.
The picture below shows a 5/16″ dowel threaded through 5/8″ netting for a side panel. If you order the golf impact netting from Gourock, your netting will be larger (3/4″) and so you can use a slightly larger dowel….or just stick with a 5/16″ dowel.
This dowel will be tucked under the PVC pipe and then the side panel plus the dowel/net will be cable tied into place. I use needle nose pliers to reach through the net to grab the end of the cable ties.
I like to start with the back panel and then do the front panel next, followed by the 4 side panels. Applying the netting is a bit tricky – especially at the corners. You don’t want it too tight at the corners because then it will be pulled too tightly when the trap is closed, but you do not want it too loose at the corners either because a small kitten or an adult cat’s head can poke through it.
If you get the net too tight (noted when the trap is closed/folded), replace the cable ties and allow more slack in the net.
After the netting is put on, I carefully examine all four corners and reinforce the netting as needed by drilling through the PVC corner pieces and attaching the netting with more cable ties. (See picture below.)
To reinforce the corners after the net has been put on all 4 sides, drill your holes through the PVC corners and then thread the cable ties with the trap open – estimating where to go through the netting but don’t close up the cable tie yet. Tighten them when the trap is in the CLOSED position because you may have to alter where the cable ties go through the netting. Otherwise, the netting at the corners may end up being too tight when the trap is closed which will stress the netting.
When checking the netting…..
Never underestimate the ability of a feral cat to get out of a small gap!!
I got bitten badly one time when a very strong tom cat managed to push his head through the corner of the trap between the vertical PCP pipe pieces. He sunk his teeth into my calf but I was more worried that he was going to break his neck/hurt himself. That was a freak accident but it does illustrate the point that a scared cat is a strong cat and will try to push through any gap.
This picture shows two cable ties going through holes drilled into the corner PVC pieces securing the net at one corner. Please use the black (more UV resistant) ties, not the white ones which break within a short period of time.
You may need 1 or 2 ties at each corner depending on how close your other ties are to the corner. Most of the time, I get by with just one extra cable tie per corner that is passed through a hole in the PVC 90 degree piece.
Some corners, however, have not needed any extra support. Just think like a panicked feral cat and use your judgment. Better too many cable ties than too few!
Safety for the Cat
There is no doubt in my mind that many feral cats have had their tails damaged by drop traps. I have watched many cats sitting under traps and observed that their tails often extend beyond the trap perimeter. This is, of course, more apt to happen with the smaller traps. I have had people claim to have “never hurt a cat’s tail” but the bottom line is….how would you know? It is not like you can readily examine feral cat’s tail after it has been trapped! The veterinarian doing the surgery is not going examine or radiograph the tail so, again, drop traps DO injure tails without it being appreciated by the trapper!
Obviously, the heavier trap, the more damage will be done to the tail but even a 13# trap hurts if dropped on your finger from several inches above. Try it! Believe me, it hurts.
A cat’s tail is about 12″-13″ long. It is ~3/4″ in diameter at the base and ~5/8″ at the mid point and ~3/8″ 4″ from the tip.
For this reason, I want at least a 5/8″ gap created between the PVC pipe and the ground at the side pieces in the front half of the trap where a cat’s tail will be when he is eating.
Be very careful to not have your 1/8″ hardboard panels act as a guillotine on a cat’s tail! The hardboard should NOT be flush with the ground. It should be above the bearing surface of the PVC pipe. (See pictures above.) If there is going to be any contact between the trap and the cat’s tail, better that it be the PVC pipe than the sharp edge of the board!
This trap is so large that if you do catch a cat’s tail, it will be toward the end where it is thinner. If you use a trap that is smaller (3’x3′) then you may very well bring the trap down on the thicker, base of the tail and even a 5/8″ gap will not protect the cat from an injured tail. This is another reason why I like larger traps.
The first thing that I used to create a gap was a stack of carpet squares (shown in a picture below) but then moved to erasers which broke up too easily. Neither of those options worked well for heavy use so I switched to 1″ wide ‘threaded stem cushion glides’ which give me a 5/8″ gap at the front corners of the trap. I only use 2 of them at each front corner so the trap does slope down. This leaves about a 1/2″ gap where the tip of the tail would be.
I originally used carpet squares but now I put the “cushion guide” here instead. (Carpet squares will work but will need to be replaced occasionally.)
I tried erasers but they broke up too easily. If you don’t trap much, you can still use erasers or carpet squares. Just be sure to check them often to make sure that they are still present and doing their job.
Bottom of the trap pictured below: Note the location of the stacks of carpet squares to the right (front of the trap) and to the left near the center hinge. You can also use erasers here instead. Or just use the cushion glides shown above – a total of 2 – 1 at each front corner of the trap.
The reason why I don’t use 4 of the cushion guides is because I worry about a rare chance that one would come down on a tail if positioned near the side hinge. Use your judgment to provide a gap. Maybe use the metal cushion guides on the front corners and carpet squares near the side hinges if using only the cushion guides does not give you a large enough gap.
I really can’t imagine a cat pushing its way through the gap between the vertical PVC pipes at the corners but if they pushed hard enough, they may get their head through and injure themselves.
Update: Well…the above did happen to me! I was trapping a cat and felt a sudden horrible pain in my calf. I looked down and a big tom cat had all four of his canine teeth (fangs) sunk into my leg. He had managed to push his head through the gap. He was able to pull his head back and I got him successfully transferred to a wire trap before tending to my bleeding leg.
If the trap is not constructed properly, there will be more of a gap than there should be. Also, there is ‘play’ in all hinges so we can only make that gap as tight as wobbly hinges will allow.
For added reinforcement, I add an 11″ cable tie (or hook 2 – 7″ ones together) as shown (with the tab untrimmed). Note the placement of the cable tie as shown in the lower view taken from inside the trap. It is snug up against the side 3/4″ PVC pipe but it is ~2″ from the front 1″ pipe. This is to allow for the way that the trap closes.
Note: Do not tighten this reinforcement cable tie when the trap is open. Tighten (not too tight…just snuggly) it only when the trap is closed. This will result in the tie being a bit loose in the open position but if the tie is too tight while in the open position, the trap will not close.
There are many ways to make handles – just figure out what works best for you.
The picture below shows the placing of the handles but I don’t make my handles this way anymore.
I now use chain wrapped in duct tape and then I wrap a carpet strip around it and secure it with duct tape. This results in two comfortable handles. I bend the ends of the chain to a 90 degree angle so that it stands up better.
Attach small eye bolts to the back panel as shown. Use 4 washers for each side of the 2 eyebolts. This provides a place to hook your bungee cords and also keeps the trap closed. You will have to cut off the ends of the bolts and smooth them with a file.
Use all 3/4″ PVC pipe with 4 – 3/4″ T’s and 2 – 3/4″ 90 degree angle pieces.
Cut 1 – 8″ pipe and 2 – 12″ pipes and 2 – 1 7/8″ (or a bit shorter) small pieces. Construct as shown using the 1 7/8″ pieces to attach the 90 degree angle pieces to the T’s. (Drive one end of the small piece into the upper T and then slip the 90 degree piece on.) Use a hammer to tap the pieces firmly together.
Use 50′ of soft rope – one that will lie flat and straight and has NO stretch! You want the rope very rigid so that when you pull on it, there is no delay in dropping the trap….not even a split second. Cats can ‘turn on a dime’ and are very fast!
You may want to use PVC pipe glue to construct your stand but I choose not to in case the U shaped part breaks. If it breaks, I can easily replace it. (In over 4 years of use, my stand has never broken but I still don’t bother with gluing it. I just straighten it after each use.)
The drawback about not using glue is that the stand will shift around when it is banged on the ground as it is pulled rapidly out from under the trap. This is not a problem but you do have to make sure the stand is ‘true’ and aligned properly before re-setting the trap. It just takes 2 seconds to twist it back into proper alignment and I have to wonder if it was glued….and there was less ‘give’ to the stand pieces….would it be more apt to break? PVC is pretty darn strong so it probably would not break. It is your choice to glue or not to glue.
The 90 degree elbow should face forward as shown below – not the other way around.
Make sure that the trap is perfectly centered and that the stand is perpendicular to the ground. Put a mark on your trap to show where the exact center is of the trap. I actually do this with my first cable tie when putting the carpet on.
Be very careful to NOT have the stand angled at all. It must perpendicular to the ground. Otherwise, the trap will be more apt to fall if a cat bumps into it.
I find that I catch more cats….and catch them much more quickly…. if I use a trail of food in addition to the main bowl of food placed in the center/front of the trap. Make sure that the bowl of food is centered to lower the chances of a tail getting caught under the trap. Also, use both dry and canned food. Some cats do not like canned food yet that is what we most frequently use for our bait. We often erroneously assume that all cats love canned food when many are dry food addicts.
If you are having to spend a few nights getting a cat used to the trap…a cat that is very afraid of it….put more food all around the entire trap….~10-15′ away…then closer and closer…and closer to the trap. I had to do this for 12 nights in a row before I could catch a very wary female that had given birth to many litters and had seen many cats trapped. She was VERY trap-shy.
If you are trapping in a backyard where it is safe to leave the trap set up, prop it up on something very solid (so that it has no chance of falling) and feed the cats under it until you are ready to trap them. This is what was done for the grey tabby shown in the video embedded at the top of this page. The reason why he marched under it so quickly is because he had been eating under it for the previous 2 weeks.
Please be sure to review the video before using this trap.
Partially Updated March 2011
Updated November 2016
Lisa A. Pierson, DVM