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The Legalities of Cat Traps

The Alberta SPCA occasionally opens investigations involving Albertans trapping cats on their property where the animal suffers distress. While it is the legal right of a property owner to catch cats while on their property, there can be serious legal ramifications for the person doing the trapping if the animal is harmed in the process.

The moment the cat is trapped, the person who set up the trap has the legal responsibility to ensure health and welfare of that animal. If the cat becomes distressed, the property owner can be charged under the Animal Protection Act.

Once the cat is trapped, the property owner has only three options;

  • the cat may be released in the hope the experience deters the cat
  • the cat may be returned to owner, if known
  • the cat may be turned into the local municipal animal care facility
Property owners should consider their plans for the trapped cat before setting up the trap.

Cats are not to be relocated (example: moved to farms or across town, abandoned in the country, or destroyed). Abandoning animals is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada, and killing other people’s cats is prohibited under the Criminal Code.

Any traps used must be live traps. The use of leg hold traps for domestic animals is an offence under the Criminal Code.

Traps should only be set in locations where they will be protected from weather (sun, rain, hail) and other potential hazards. Traps should not be set in extreme weather (ie: winter, when thunderstorms are expected, when temperatures are expected to be high, etc.). They should be monitored and checked at least twice a day.

Traps must only be set on property owned, leased, or rented by the user or with the permission of the person owning, leasing, or renting the property.

Wildlife must be released in compliance with the Wildlife Act (contact Fish and Wildlife for details).

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