WHY RETURN THE CATS?
WHY NOT RELOCATE THEM?
Often times we receive calls regarding “removing” cats. This is usually not feasible as there is nowhere to move the cats. Even if the land is available, there are other considerations. Cats are extremely territorial and are bonded to the land on which they were raised as well as with other cats in the colony.
Evidence of cats traveling hundreds of miles to their original home is well documented. Sadly, many cats trying to get back to their home die in the process from traffic or starvation.
Only as a last resort should the relocation of cats be considered. Should this be the only alternative it is recommended to keep cats in a sheltered enclosure on the new land for a minimum of six weeks before releasing on the property.
THE VACUUM EFFECT: THE UNWANTED CONSEQUENCE OF RELOCATION AND TRAP/KILL
A phenomenon known as the vacuum effect occurs when cats are suddenly removed from an area through trap/kill or relocation. Inevitably, un-sterilized cats that evaded capture or cats drawn to the vacated food source, claim the territory and begin the breeding cycle once more.
If you've discovered one community cat or a colony of community cats that you wish to help, here are the step-by-step instructions on how to end the cycle of overbreeding, provide necessary medical care.
TNR(Trap-Neuter-Return) is the humane solution for unowned community cats versus trapping and taking them to the shelter. Sadly, nearly 100% of feral cats that enter shelters are euthanized due to being unadoptable. TNR provides a brighter future for community cats with long-term proven results.
Whether it's one cat in your backyard or twenty, we are here to help guide you with the best resources and best practices to help your community cats become Lucky Cats.
Step 1) Establish a feeding schedule and a feeding station. It's best to feed in the morning and remove the food prior to nightfall to avoid attracting other animals. If it is in an area where other people are feeding cats too, signage may be needed to coordinate efforts. Provide fresh food and water daily. Keep food and water dishes clean to prevent illnesses. Metal containers are best for sanitation and durability. A feeding station helps keep the food dry and off the ground. Once the cat(s) are coming regularly to the food bowl, you're ready for Step 2.
Step 2) Visit our Programs page and choose the best option for your location and contact us to borrow a trap and set up a veterinarian appointment. Remember, never trap until you have a spay/neuter appointment in place!
Step 3) Once your appointment is secured, humanely trap the cat and transport to the appointment.
Lucky Cat Trapping Instructions
Progressive Feeding - To acclimate the cats to the traps, secure your trap in the open position using zip ties. Several days or earlier prior to trapping, feed the cat just outside the trap. The following day, place the food just inside the trap, placing the food further to the back of the trap with each successive feeding until you are placing the food all the way to the back of the trap. By the time you are ready to actually trap the cat, it should be more comfortable going into the trap to eat. Don’t forget to remove those zip ties on the day you actually need to trap the cat! You do not have to wait till the night before to begin trapping. In fact, we would recommend trapping earlier in the day, even two days out to increase your chances of success.
Prepare your at home holding space for pre/post op surgery/recovery in a quiet, safe place, at least 72 degrees as cats cannot regulate their body temperature with anesthesia in their bodies and it could take up to 24 hours for the anesthesia to dissipate. Place something like a plastic kitchen trash bag torn lengthwise (with newspaper on top to absorb any urine) on the surface where your trap will sit. Be sure to protect your vehicle for transport in the same manner!
Remember, if using a Tomahawk trap that has a sliding door on one end of the trap, you must check to ensure the sliding door is properly latched before trapping and especially before picking up the trap. Otherwise, you could accidentally release your cat. When using any trap, pick it up using the handle on the top of the trap, then stabilize for carrying with your other hand by placing it on the business end of the trap. Business end is the end through which the cat actually enters the trap. The idea behind this is that there is no way for the cat to bite/scratch you because you have an area of protection between the cat and your hand whereas, should you put your free hand on the back of the trap, your fingers will be in the trap and you could be bitten.
Baiting the Trap - Don’t feed the day before or the day of trapping! Water is necessary but absolutely no food! Yes, the cats will be hungry but they need to be hungry to enter the traps and you can feed once cat is in trap. See feeding instructions in the ‘Once your cat is trapped’ section below. Bait your trap with mackeral, rotisserie chicken, or something else really aromatic to draw the cats in. If using mackerel, you can use the mackerel juice to drizzle a trail leading right into the trap. Whatever bait you choose to use, be sure it has no bones! Determine where you will place your trap in advance of setting/baiting because if you bait, and then decide to move the trap, you will also have to pick up the bait that has fallen through the trap onto the ground, otherwise, the cat will help himself to the bait and may decide he’s good for the day without entering the trap. To bait, place thumbnail-sized pieces of bait at the entryway, about midway, and to the very back corner of the trap. To bait with anything larger than thumbnail size could allow for the cat to grab the bait, back out of the trap, and again, decide he is good for the day resulting in a lost trapping opportunity and hard-to-get appointment! We want to ensure the kitty has to step onto the ’trigger’ plate to activate the trap to close and this is why we place bait as far to the back of the trap as possible. It’s easiest to just drop the bait through the top of the trap.
Once cat is trapped, you may feed by dropping a small amount of canned food (canned food is more than 70% water so this will help to hydrate the cat as well) through the ‘top' of the trap right over the metal step-plate, aka a trigger-plate. The step-plate is what the cat must step on in order to activate the trap door to close. Only drop a small amount of food so as not to make a mess in event cat is too stressed to eat and sometimes they are. Less food to walk through or lay in means less mess. If kitty does eat the food, you may drop a little more. We just don’t want there to be much if any left-over food in the trap after about 10:00 the night before surgery. That said, never open the trap to remove remaining food or for any reason other than to release the cat. Never place your fingers through the trap, even with a cat that may have been somewhat friendly in the past. They are now a ’trapped’ animal and the' flight or fight’ instinct could kick in at any time. Since they cannot flee, they may bite or otherwise strike out in fear.
Cat should remain completely covered at all times from holding overnight, pre and post-op, to transporting to/from clinic. An old beach towel works well, just ensure it covers the entire trap. When completely covered, the cat cannot see out and nothing, like a predator, can see in, so the cat feels safer, less threatened, less stressed. Should the cat thrash around in the trap, this can result in injury, especially to the nose. This does sometimes happen. The Dr. will take a look but typically scraped noses are left to heal on their own.
Don’t forget to feed any cats who were not trapped!
Should you trap a raccoon, use caution in releasing. Should you trap an opossum, release next to the base of a tree as they are mostly blind, especially in the daytime and this will help them reach safety without being attacked or hit by a car in the process of trying to determine which way to travel. They aren’t necessarily attractive creatures but they do serve a purpose in that they can eat up to 5000 ticks in a week! Should you trap a skunk, hold a sheet/blanket in front of you as you slowly approach the trap. Gently lay the sheet/blanket over the trap and then as quietly as possible, unlock the sliding door, pull up and lay it on top of trap. Walk away and allow skunks to exit. Should they start stomping their feet, run for the hills because they are about to spray! When releasing any animal from a trap, always face the door opening in a safe direction ‘away' from potential dangers like cars, school buses, etc.
Step 4) Cat receives spay or neuter, ear tip, rabies vaccination, and other medical services.
On pick-up, please be sure to check that the cats in the traps and in fact the traps themselves are actually the ones you took in and before ever leaving the building, please check the Tomahawk sliding door has been properly and securely re-latched by the staff. ‘Slowly' pull up on it. If it comes up more than about an inch, it is not properly re-latched.
Post-op - Once settled back at home and kitty seems bright eyed and bushy tailed, you may again drop small amount of canned food through top of trap. Kitty may or may not eat, just depends on the cat and how he/she is feeling. Anesthesia can cause nausea so should cat vomit after eating, withhold any more food until the next morning. The morning following surgery, try checking the underside of the trap to see if you can view the incision. It should not appear red, angry or be oozing. The internal incision is closed with dissolvable sutures and the external incision is closed with surgical adhesive which is water soluble. Because the sutures are water-soluble, if it is raining at the time you plan to release, it's best to wait until conditions improve.
Step 5) After recovery, the cat is returned back to the original habitat and provided with continued care, food, water, and shelter.
Provided the cat appears well, return to the site where trapped. When preparing to release, place trap on ground, partially uncover and give the cat a few moments to acclimate to familiar sights, sounds, smells. When releasing the cat, face the door opening in a safe direction ‘away' from potential dangers like cars, school buses, etc.
The cats may or may not disappear for a few days but not to worry as the cat will eventually return to its food source.
Step 6) Monitor daily for new cats and/or health issues.
Thank you so very much for choosing to be the solution to cat overpopulation by spaying/neutering and caring for these community cats. Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage is the humane, long-term solution to managing our community cat population.
A very important step in the TNR process is ear-tipping.
Ear-tipping is the universally accepted way to signify a community cat has been spayed or neutered.
Ear-tipping surgically and painlessly removes the tip of the left ear while the cat is under anesthesia for spay or neuter surgery. There is little to no bleeding and the ear heals quickly.
The ear-tip helps caretakers to tell from a distance which cats have already been spayed or neutered, as well as a sign to animal control officers that the cat has benefited from TNRM.
The tipped ear prevents the cat from being unnecessarily trapped again, and helps the caretaker keep track of which cats have or haven’t been spayed or neutered.