Why are Feral/Free-roaming cats in my neighborhood?
Feral cats are the result of unsterilized abandoned, lost or stray housecats. Cats reproduce very quickly with the gestation period of only approximately 63 days. Kittens born outside, quickly adapt to lack of human contact and grow into adults being afraid of people, thus considered 'feral'. Kittens not rescued before eight weeks old are more difficult to socialize and place into homes. Some of the older adults may remain friendly, but prefer to live outside and are usually considered stray or friendly free-roaming cats. Many of these cats form groups know as colonies and live in areas where there is available food and shelter. They can be found everywhere from dirty city streets to private, lavish backyards. Their means of survival range from tidbits in restaurant dumpsters to generous helpings given by caring individuals.
Why can't these cats disappear or move to another location?
Chances are these cats are in this location because it offers a safe haven and/or a continuous food supply. It is a known fact that people start feeding AFTER they see a cat and, as a rule, do not place food in an area and WAIT for a cat to show up to eat! This just means that the cats were already occupying the area for one reason or another but may not have been as visible. Cats are protective over their territory and do not usually let newcomers move into their colony area very quickly. Therefore, if the original cats are removed from a particular area, new cats will eventually show up and occupy the same places. This is known as the 'vacuum effect' and the removal process will be ongoing. Relocation should only be considered as a last resort as it is very stressful for the animals and not always successful. Dumping or abandoning animals on any other property is illegal and punishable by law. Realistically, it is best for all involved to spay/neuter cats that already live in the area, thus eliminating overpopulating with offspring, but in return, stabilizing the colony with territorial behavior.
What are the benefits of TNR?
Neighborhoods become more peaceful because a lot of the nuisance behavior, such as nightly howling, fighting, mating and spraying to mark territory become practically non existent after cats are spayed and neutered. TNR provides the community with fewer visible cats and decreases the number of cats and kittens being admitted to shelters. This reduces euthanasia rates and shelter costs while in turn decreasing the spending of taxpayers dollars. However, the biggest advantage of TNR is the difference it makes for the feral/free roaming cats in the community, who now live healthier, more content lives. For females it means less stress from mating and birthing kittens. For males it means their nuisance behavior practically disappears and they no longer have to fight for females, which reduces the spread of disease within the colony and, besides being sterilized and eartipped, all cats are vaccinated against rabies. After the TNR process, the colony becomes more stabilized, with, eventually, fewer cats, which in turn decreases the costs for responsible caretakers. TNR is, without a doubt, the most sensible and logical way of controlling the cat overpopulation in any community.
Why are the cats Eartipped?
Eartipping, which is done during the spay/neuter surgery, is the universal symbol of identifying that a cat is already sterilized and living in an established colony. Often an eartip can save a life, with some shelters returning an eartipped feral cat to a registered colony instead of having it euthanizing.
Why should I get involved, these are not my cats?
These cats may not belong to anyone and you may not even like them, but it's obvious that people do not want their neighborhoods over run by feral/free roaming cats. Unfortunately, if people are feeding cats but not having them spayed/neutered, they are only making matters worse by being irresponsible feeder/breeders and leaving it up to someone else to get their problem under control. Sadly, the cats do not ask to be in this situation and have only responsible people to make decisions for their well being. Knowing that relocation doesn't work and dumping is illegal, the only sensible and practical choice is TNR. By controlling the cat overpopulation issue, you not only provide a better life for the ferals, but you are also making a big difference in the neighborhood and for the residents living there.
I have a cat emergency, can you help?
Unfortunately, we are not in a medical or clinic situation and do not have an office or staff to respond to every urgent situations. If it is a medical emergency, please contact your veterinarian or a 24 hour emergency veterinarian clinic. If it is non-medical, please leave a message and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.
What if I have a pregnant cat?
Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing how far the cat is into a pregnancy without a veterinarian exam. Gestation period is approximately two months, so, usually, if the cat is visibly pregnant it is may be already half way thru its pregnancy. By permitting the expansion of the colony, not only are you putting the life of the birthing mother in jeopardy, but you are also contributed to an unhealthier environment for new members. With underdeveloped immune systems, diseases and viruses are easly contracted, resulting in unhealthy young who may eventually die a slow and agonizing death or become easy targets for various predators. Also, an increase in colony size means less available food, more visible animals in a public area and possibly more deaths from angry neighbors or from just being in the street. Unless you are extremely experienced with feral cats, we do not recommend that you contain a mother cat for the remaining time of pregnancy and until the kittens can be weaned. Attempting this may result in unnecessary injuries or damages to both you and/or the cat.
My cat had kittens, can you take them and find them homes?
No. We are NOT a shelter and cannot take in kittens, but we will try to help you find caring homes for them. Our goal is to help you get control YOUR feral cat population and prevent more unwanted kittens from being born. Please keep in mind that if you feel these kittens should not be considered 'unwanted', please take responsibility and find homes for them WITHOUT contacting a Rescue Group or Shelter. Permitting kittens to be born within the colony will not only create more problems for you, but also for shelters who are already filled to capacity with unwanted kittens(that will probably be euthanized), and also Rescue Groups who are already overburdened and overwhelmed with kittens that they are trying to place in loving homes. If you do find that you have to reach out to a Rescue Group for help, they will probably insist that you have the mother cat spayed so they will not have to deal with another litter of kittens in a few months. If the kittens are already born within the colony, please do not handle them or remove them from the mother. For the health of the kittens, it is best for them to stay with the mother until they are at least five weeks old. You then have two choices....to socialize the kittens after five weeks old and find homes for them OR wait until they are three months old and have mother and kittens spayed/neutered at the same time and return them to your colony.
Will you come and trap my colony for me?
With having a limited number of volunteers, we prefer to help the elderly, disabled or otherwise incapacitated individuals who cannot actually preform the tasks of TNR and truly need assistance. We will, however, be available to offer advice, support, assistance and coaching every step of the way.
How do I get started with TNR?
Now that you have decided to become a responsible caretaker or are just trying to get control of the feral cat population in your area, getting started is relatively simple.
First...plan to Trap, Neuter and Return all the cats in the colony. It is much easier if all can be done at the same time.
Second...Locate a low cost/no cost spay/neuter clinic and reserve appointments.
Third....Reserve traps from an area trap bank.
Fourth...Trap the cats. Get friends or family involved to help with trapping, transporting and aftercare.
Fifth.... After recovery from surgery, return cats to their original location and provide easy, long term care.
YOU CAN DO IT.......and it will make a BIG difference in your neighborhood and for the feral/free roaming cats that are living there!