What To Expect When Trapping Feral (Community) Cats
Day Before Trapping
Prior to the trapping day, a LFFAC trapper will make a site visit to assess how many cats need to be trapped, whether kittens are to be removed, and if any cats will require additional medical care. In addition, the trapper will identify the best trapping spots with help from the colony’s caregiver. Often caregivers participate in the process. This can be included in the plan.
Night Before Trapping
The caregiver is asked to withhold food for 24 hours. Trapping cats relies on food motivation to get the cats to enter the traps. Hunger lowers the cat’s anxiety to go into the traps.
Day of Trapping
The traps are set up in areas where cats are more likely to be, a frequently traveled path, feeding area, sleeping area, etc. The traps are baited with smelly foods, such as tuna, mackerel, cat food, or occasionally dry food, depending on the cats’ preference. Different foods can be experimented with as the most difficult cats in the colony are enticed into the traps.
Depending on the location, number of cats, how resistant the cats are to going into the traps, number of clinic appointments available and when, and the number of trappers available, trapping may take longer, sometimes weeks or months. It is very important to complete the process by neutering and spaying every cat in the colony. Even though it helps each individual cat to be altered and vaccinated, failure to complete the process will not reduce the population over time. Intact females and their offspring will increase the population quickly. Intact male cats will continue to yowl, spray, fight, and suffer injuries.
Night of Trapping
After trapping, the trapped cats are taken to an LFFAC holding area (a home or building) that is quiet and temperature controlled. The cats will be cared for in the traps, because it is easier to care for them in traps (pads can be changed, food and water placed inside, and empty dishes removed) than in carriers, and most spay and neuter clinics require that they arrive in traps.
Day of Surgery
The morning of surgery, the cats are taken to the spay and neuter clinic where they are spayed or neutered, vaccinated (FVRCP and rabies), and the left ear tipped about 1 cm in a straight cut to make it visually apparent that the cat has been altered. After surgery and recovery, the cats are taken back to the LFFAC holding area where they will be closely observed for any post-operative complications. If any are observed, medical care will be provided. While the cats are being monitored overnight, they are fed, and the trap cleaned as needed to keep them comfortable.
Return to Colony
Most cats are monitored for about 24 hours and then returned back home. Occasionally, cats need to stay a few days longer. If extra time is needed, the cats are placed in more comfortable kennels.
LFFAC will remove kittens at the trapping site if they are young enough to be tamed for adoption into human homes. That removal would be included in the TNVR agreement.
LFFAC will not remove cats permanently, return them to a different location, or give them to the caregiver to take to a different location.