Have you ever heard the term “Cat Colony”? It sounds like quite a daunting thing and truthfully, it can be. Feral cat colonies can go from manageable to out of hand very quickly as unfixed cats reproduce at an extremely alarming rate. Female cats will usually go into heat during spring & fall and they can have multiple heat cycles within those times. Now, considering that a cats gestational period is roughly only 60 days and that kittens can become pregnant as early as four months old, you can see just how bad these breeding issues can be.
Thankfully, there are some groups, volunteers and vets that participate in programs, such as TNR that cut down the over population that is occurring worldwide.
WHAT IS A CAT COLONY?
A cat colony is a group of feral cats that have taken over an area. These areas will have a food and water source nearby as well as some form of shelter.
There are groups/individuals that will make sure there is food, water, shelter, vet care, etc provided for these cat colonies. Those are called managed colonies.
WHAT IS A FERAL CAT/KITTEN?
A feral cat/kitten is a cat that lives outdoors. It is possible that it may have been a house cat at one time, but it now lives primarily outdoors. Feral cats are extremely skiddish and feisty as they have usually had little to no human contact.
Just because a cat is feral doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. Being “feral” is just a behavioral issue that can be fixed. You can begin the process by feeding a feral cat that may live near you. They will begin to associate you with feeding them and start to normalize you being around. Some feral cats may take to this a lot slower than others. Don’t give up!
WHY SHOULD I SPAY/NEUTER A FERAL CAT?
Now, it may seem so ridiculous to spend your time, money, etc on trapping a feral cat to get them fixed. “It’s not my pet, so why should I care about it?”. While that may be true, by spaying/neutering a feral cat you are doing SO much more than just preventing it from breeding. You are also
helping prevent diseases from spreading, preventing them from being more prone to certain diseases that come with over breeding, etc.
Oh, and CANCER. Yes, the C word.
Female cats that have NOT been spayed are extremely prone to different types of cancers such as uterine and mammary. They are also more susceptible to UTI’s and severe hormonal changes.
Male cats that have NOT been neutered are more likely to get testicular cancer and will also live a much shorter life than those that DO get neutered.
WHAT IS TNR?
Sounds simple, right? Well, it pretty much is!
If you know the location of a cat colony or if you have a feral cat that likes to hang around, you’re already off to a great start!
First and foremost though, you need to contact your local vets, animal rescue groups, etc. See what they have available for TNR programs. Likely, they will have certain vets that they’ve partnered with as well as certain times/days they have set aside for these programs. You will then want to do your trapping around these times so you can get the cat to the vet right away. Since you’re already on the phone with them, you will also want to ask if they have any live traps that you can borrow for this.
“What is a live trap and where else can I get one?”.
If your local vet & animal groups don’t have any, your next best option would be to reach out to farmers, as well as any local online groups as some people may have one lying around.
Still no luck? If you have the means to to so, I would then start looking online or local pet/farm stores.
Second most important thing, is that you will also want to have some old towels, blankets or sheets readily available. As soon as the feral cat is caught you will need to cover the trap. This will help keep them calm! Otherwise, they can injure them self by ramming against the trap trying to escape.
Once said feral cat has been trapped, you will then take it to the local vet for the spaying/neutering portion. Typically, the vet will also give them a health check, vaccinations and also an ear tattoo or “tipping”. Ear-tipping is when they clip the top part of the cats left ear. It is a way for people, from a distance, to see if the feral cat has already been TNR’d and is likely a part of a managed colony.
Now comes the best part, the release! Once the cat has had a successful surgery and vet visit, they will then need to be watered & fed and watched for at least the next 12- 24 hours. Do not remove the cat from the trap! You will have to find a way to slide in food & water for them without spooking them or opening the trap door too much for them to escape. Once you are confident that the cat has healed well and has a full belly, you will release them in the same area that you found them.
When you are at a safe spot of returning, uncover the trap for a few seconds so the cat can gather themselves and recognize the area.
If for some reason they have to be moved to a new location, please make sure you are doing it only as a last resort. Think rural locations, such as farms, ranches, stables, etc. Most farmers and such have a need for barn cats! Always check with the land owner and explain that the cat has been vaccinated and fixed also!
It is important for them to still stay together as a cat colony (this is where it can become a managed one). Cats, especially feral, are great at keeping mice populations down so keep that in mind if you noticed you have a colony in your neighbourhood!
HOW CAN I HELP?
Reach out to your local vets, animal rescue groups and shelters. If you are unable to volunteer your time, they are also always appreciative of monetary donations, food, traps, blankets, and much more.
Anymeow, thank you for your interest in keeping the feral cat population down!
If you have any questions or tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!
All the best,