You can capture creatures in a variety of ways, including animal traps for vermin, cage traps for wild animals and hostiles (like goblins), forcibly caging tame animals (see below), and you can also buy caged animals from traders. Starting from version .31.19, several animals (cows etc.) have been classified as grazing and need to have access to moss or grass in order not to starve. This is best achieved through definition of a pasture. Other caged animals (such as dogs) do not require food or nourishment. Caged animals have lifetimes, though, so these will also die eventually. Caged dwarves (except those in jail) will quickly starve, for they are never fed. The only case when a caged creature is fed is during its taming.
Below is a collection of some things you can do with creatures in cages or other holding devices.
 Training and taming
A dwarf with the animal training labor enabled can tame wild animals (including vermin) at a kennel. A tame animal has the tag (Tame) after its name and is safe to be released into the fortress. They will not attack your dwarves, and do not set off your traps.
Beware, creatures that have killed dwarves (or other friendly creatures Verify) before being tamed even off the map are "un-tamable". Despite appearing tame, such a creature will go dwarf-killing as soon as it is released.
Elven merchants often sell caged animals, even some that can't normally be trained. Often cages that appear empty on the trading screen (ie, -oaken cage-) will have tame rats, squirrels or other small animals in them. Tamed animals can act as a guard, attacking hostile creatures.
Dragons and other megabeasts may also be tamed, but this requires a Dungeon master which is currently buggy (0.31.10). Specifically, any vermin or creature with the [PET_EXOTIC] flag requires a dungeon master.
You can restrain creatures by assigning them to restraints, putting them in cages, or throwing them in pits or ponds. This can reduce lag, and may prevent adoption as pets (so they remain slaughterable without tantruming owners). This will not work with cats, who adopt their masters, not the other way around, and despite any physical barriers
- Cages: An indefinite number of animals may be locked into one single cage. If you wish to fit your own tame animals into cages, you can do this by building a cage, and assigning some animals to it via the Building properties window (accessible by ). "Large animal caging" jobs will then be created, and dwarves will lock the hapless animals into the cage. Any offspring they give birth to is also born in the cage (But is not assigned to the cage, so your dwarves will free it if you don't stop them.). Animals do not breed in cages, but an already pregnant animal will give birth while in a cage.
- Caveat — Do not reassign any animal that is not tame (for example, one captured via a cage trap). If you do, the dwarf moving the animal may open the cage and then flee due to the proximity of the wild animal.
- By stationing military dwarves nearby, this can be used as an easy way to release and kill caged creature. This works especially well if the military dwarves already have an order to kill the creature before you attempt to transfer it. (Some creatures may actually get transferred successfully, however.)
- Chains/ropes: Installed chains ( - ) and assign animals to them . They'll be able to move one tile in any direction (including up/down/diagonal).
- Pits/ponds: You can designate an area as pit or pond by creating an activity zone, designating it as pit/pond and assigning animals to it by setting its properties by pressing . Beware that land animals generally do not like to remain in a dark pit instead of your magnificent fortress, so they'll break free at the earliest opportunity. See Mass pitting for information on dumping many caged creatures into a pit/pond at once.
 Other uses
- Zoo areas may be defined from a built cage via the menu for the enjoyment of your dwarves. Be aware that dwarves will receive happy or unhappy thoughts from seeing an animal in a zoo based on their preferences. Owning the cage containing a loved animal is even better.
- Confiscating prisoner items: You can strip a captured critter of its equipment. First, use stocks menu. - - and - - to mark the entire stockpile of cages (and every item in the cages) for reclaiming and then for dumping, then use (for unbuilt cages) or (for built cages) to view and undump the cage itself. After you ordered the items dumped, dwarves will come and strip the items from your captives. If they do not, double-check that you have a dumping activity zone and that you've reclaimed ( - - ) - all the equipment a hostile carries is orbidden by default. You can also dump caged prisoner items through the
- Usage as an execution device: Instead of executing the trapped creature, one could execute a noble by placing a caged megabeast in its quarters and then releasing the beast. Remember to also install a cage trap to recapture the beast afterward.
- Silk farming: If you are the lucky owner of a tamed giant cave spider, you can release disarmed enemies in a room with it, causing it to shoot significant quantities of silk which can then be woven into expensive cloth. Creative arrangements of doors, chains, and fortifications can allow a setup which generates a near-constant stream of silk using a single creature as bait.