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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Mattfield

These traps stink!

No, they don't! I hate to say it, but it's not the trap--

you're just not setting it right!



There are so many reasons to use high-quality gravity traps instead of the cheap but dangerous and unreliable spring-loaded traps from Home Depot. See our blog about our favorites here.



When I first met Kathy over a decade ago, I was sooooo resistant to follow her instructions to use Tru-catch brown gravity traps. They just seemed annoying to set, and mine was so easy! I was using Tomahawk's spring-loaded live trap, which is just an upgraded havahart with a second door. It has been years since I've used that spring-loaded trap and I don't think I ever will again!


Gravity traps (Tru catch "brown", Tomahawk "black") take a tiny amount more work to set than spring-loaded traps (the classic "Havahart") but are the better choice for trapping. They are much safer - the door does not SLAM on a tail or cat/kitten trailing behind. They are also much quieter and less disruptive, which is super important if other cats are around (when are they not?).

The number one complaint we receive is that the trap does not go off and it takes too much pressure to trip the trap.

Believe it or not, there is a good chance that the problem is not the weight or friction of the trap. It's how you're dealing with the trip plate and where you're putting the bait! On a cheap spring-loaded trap, the trip plate is solid:

The cat can step on any part of it and the trap will trip. It's literally like walking on a plate.








In a gravity trap, the trip plate is mesh, just like the walls and floor. While some cats will trip the trap by stepping on the larger frame, there is a chance that the cat can step through the mesh or be too afraid to step on it. For this reason, we advise using a towel to line the entire bottom of the trap. You simply dump the bait onto the towel and clean-up is very easy, plus extra smell from the juice gets into the towel. You can also use cardboard to cover the trip plate, but don't extend it any closer to the trap entrance than the edge of the trip plate or the trap will go off too early! It should just cover the trip hinge, no closer to the entrance.


Another issue is bait placement.

If you do not place the bait ALL THE WAY in the back, the cat can "goose neck" over the trip plate and eat the bait without tripping the trap, because the cat is only stepping on the front of the plate, not providing enough of a lever arm to trip the trap. You need the full weight on the highest part of the trip plate!

Because gravity traps are quieter and overall less obnoxious than spring-loaded traps, you can and should always test them before you set them live. Simply tap the trip plate with a stick and make sure it shuts properly! Even after years, I still test the trap every time. If you are going for a younger cat or kitten in a large trap, you can also weight the trip plate with a small (closed) can of cat food or other weight that will not injure them. If you are doing selective trapping, the "water bottle trick" still works just the same, just with less risk of hurting a cat since the door gently closes without a spring.


We are very experienced trappers with all sorts of tricks and rigged up traps. If you're getting frustrated with your trap, drop us a line and we'd be happy to have a look and even help with a minor adjustment or two.

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