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Trap, Neuter, Return: How to help feral cats in your neighborhood

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
3 years ago
You know that thousands upon thousands of stray cats are euthanized every year. But you may not know that there’s a way you can help them. Feral cat colonies exist in almost every neighborhood, and without intervention, the number of strays will continue to increase. 

You can help with a process called Trap-Neuter-Return (or Trap-Spay-Return). TNR involves humanely trapping the feral cat, bring it to a veterinary hospital for sterilization, and returning it to the wild after it has recovered. Here’s how you can help:

How do I safely and humanely trap a feral cat? 
Many animal shelters and the Humane Society offer humane traps to borrow, rent, or purchase. Place the trap near the feral cat colony and bait with highly aromatic foods like tuna or canned cat food.

When is the best time of day to trap? 
Early in the morning and dusk are the best times to trap, but it is most important to trap during the times when you normally see or feed the cat. If trapping at night, be prepared to inadvertently trap possums, raccoons, skunks, or other critters. Immediately release these animals or call animal control if you feel uncomfortable doing so. When the trap is sprung, quickly cover it with a blanket or towel, and move the cat to a safe area indoors. 

Where do I keep the trapped cat the night before the veterinary appointment? 
Keep the cat indoors in a garage, spare room of the house, shed, or even a vehicle (in appropriate temperatures and with proper ventilation). 

How should I care for the cat before and after surgery? 
Do not give the cat food or water for 24 hours before the surgery, as the anesthesia may make the cat nauseated. DO give the cat plenty of food and water after surgery. If you don’t think you can safely reach your hand into the cat’s enclosure, use a funnel or bottle to fill food and water from outside. Keep the cat warm and dry for 1-4 days after surgery before releasing back into the wild.


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