What is a Community Cat?
The ASPCA says a “Community Cat” ‘is a term used to describe outdoor, unowned, free-roaming cats. These cats could be friendly, feral, adults, kittens, healthy, sick, altered and/or unaltered. They may or may not have a caregiver. By this definition, the only outdoor free-roaming cats who are not community cats are those who have an owner.’
- Do you see stray cats in your neighborhood?
- Do they run away when you want to pet them?
- Do they have kittens with them?
If you answered YES to any of the above questions, then you can use our help.
Community cats are pretty self-sufficient; however, overpopulation is a big problem. Studies have shown that Trap Neuter Vaccinate and Return programs (TNVR for short) drastically reduce the number of community cats by interrupting the reproduction cycle.
LET US HELP YOU.
Frequently asked questions
You have questions, we have answers.
What is humane trapping?
Trap the late afternoon/evening to minimize the amount of time it has to spend in the trap before going to the clinic. Since the clinics FHS uses are open Monday through Thursday, trapping occurs Sunday through Wednesday.
Ideally, traps should not be left unattended. If they cannot be watched constantly, cover sides and top of the trap with a cut-up sheet or towel, leaving only the entry and back uncovered. Line the bottom of the trap with a heavy layer of newspaper or cardboard that is lightweight enough not to weigh down the trip plate. Check traps at least one time per hour and, when the cat is caught, finish covering the trap completely with a sheet or towel. This calms the cat and can help prevent injury.
Make sure all traps are closed when you are not available to watch them.
Even though checking every hour, notice the weather – where the sun is located and where it will be an hour from then. Trapped animals (cats or other) should not be left in hot sun, rain or storms. In summer, ants quickly find the food in the traps. If ants are in food, an animal will not go for it.
If the animal is trapped and ants then find the food, it is trapped with ants and cannot get away from them. Suggestion: Prior to leaving home, spray trap sides and bottom with an insecticide that indicates it is safe after drying (such as Spectracide T). After the trap is in place, spray a perimeter around the trap and allow to dry. Placing the food (such as canned or fish) in a bowl filled with water will help repel the ants.
After a cat has been caught, hold in a covered area, garage or basement and plan to transport it to the clinic the next morning. Remember, if it is too cold/hot for you outside, it is too cold/hot for the cat, also. Do not transport in the trunk of a car in hot weather. If it is necessary, place frozen gallons of water inside the trunk to keep the temperature down. Many cars have back seats that can partially be set down allowing air conditioning into the trunk. If it is necessary to transport a cat in the back of a pickup truck, please be conscious of weather and make sure the animal is covered. In cold weather, covering with a sleeping bag (think thrift store) would be a good possibility and could be zipped up so won’t fly off. If a cat has had surgery, it is unable to regulate its body temperature until anesthesia is completely out of its system.
Until you transport the cat, keep papers clean by carefully opening trap just enough to slide dirty papers out and clean ones in. Do the same for food and water. To save space, place a little water in something like a jar lid or other short bowl and put wet food on top. There will be less likelihood of knocking over the water and cat will stay hydrated. Clean papers and offers of food are especially important after surgery. Always use a fork divider to keep the cat from escaping while you tend to them. Papers on the bottom of the trap are also important to keep little paws from coming out the bottom and then having the trap set down, mashing the toes. It also provides a way for them to cover poop until you can clean the trap.
Practice common sense and compassion. Report daily to the person/people who loaned you the traps.
What are the mechanics involved in trapping?
To maximize your success in trapping, here are some hints:
- Line trap with newspaper.
- Place about 1 T. food at the back of the trap, BEYOND the trip plate. (You don’t want anything weighing down the trip plate.)
- Secure door on the back of trap (make sure latch is on outside of the stationary bar on the trap, then secure latch & bar together with carabiner clip).
- Use a cloth to cover top and sides of the trap, leaving ends exposed.
- Open front door of trap & prop it open.
- Monitor trap.
- Once a cat is trapped…
Cover the trap with a sheet or towel, including both ends of the trap
Check cat’s LEFT ear. If it’s already clipped, release the cat.
If not clipped, secure the trap’s front door to the floor of the trap. (A gear tie—or other type of “twisty-tie”—works well) and put the trapped cat in a temperature-controlled (or semi-temperature controlled), safe area.
Unless you’re the one taking the cat to the clinic, call your local humane society representative to arrange the transfer of cat to the clinic.
What if the cat won't go in the trap?
You’re bound to run across a cat that just doesn’t want to cooperate. In those cases, you have to think like a cat!
Fact: Cats like routines, so having a trap invade their space can be upsetting.
- In the perfect world, you would introduce the trap to the cat prior to trapping. Let the trap sit in its trapping place several days prior to trapping so in essence the cat sees it as a piece of furniture.
- Train cat to gradually go further and further into the trap by using a bungee cord to hold the front door open. On the first day place the food just inside the door. Each subsequent day move the food further and further back until it’s at the very back of the trap. Once it’s used to eating from the very back of the trap, remove bungee cord.
- If an introductory period is not feasible, at least when you go to trap put it in/near the area where kitty is used to eating.
Fact: Cats are not inclined to go waltzing into a trap—even if it has food in it—unless they are REALLY hungry.
Solution: Withhold food prior to trapping. Example: If you’re tapping in the late afternoon/early evening, give the cat a “continental breakfast” in the morning (feed lightly). Except for the small amount of food trail you place in the trap, do not feed again until after the cat is in the trap.
Fact: Cats like hidey spots and might not be thrilled at the prospect of walking into a trap out in the middle of an open space.
Solution: Cover the trap with sheet or towel and move trap near a wall, bush, parked car (that you know will not be moved during the trapping process!), etc.
Fact: Your cat can be a finicky eater and might not want the food in the trap.
Solution: Switch up the bait in the trap. Kitty SURELY likes something. Possibilities include but are not limited to tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, chicken, ham, turkey, beef, or even dry food. (Yes, believe it or not, some cats don’t like meat, so try dry cat food.)
Fact: Cats like to think everything is their idea, not yours
Solution: Do not coax the cat into the trap. Bait the trap, set it, and walk away—preferably where the cat cannot see you but you can monitor the trap.
Fact: As docile as Little Precious Cat might be, a cat’s personality can change if it thinks you’re going to pick it up and put him/her in a trap.
Solution: Give the trapping process a chance and avoid picking up Little Precious who might just turn into Crazy Cat if you attempt to place it in the trap. If you are absolutely convinced placing the cat in the trap is better than trying to lure it into the trap with food, you can either:
- Open the trap door and scoot the cat in. Unless the cat is EXTREMELY docile, this rarely works!! So try a bolder move.
- Make sure the rear door’s latch is securely fastened to the stationary bar of the trap. Turn the trap so it is vertical with the back door on the ground, open the entrance door (the one with the rings), scruff the cat, and place the cat in the trap back feet first. Close the door, secure the door (using a carabiner clip or gear tie, for example), then carefully lower the trap to the ground.
Fact: Cats, with rare exception, are not happy campers to discover they’ve been trapped.
Solution: Once the cat is trapped, drape trap with a cloth ASAP. (Do not run toward the trap with the cover, but instead walk briskly.) Within 30 seconds or so the cat will have calmed down considerably.
Fact: People think the trapped cat is hungry and sometimes are tempted to try to feed the trapped cat. (After all, you withheld food so it has to be starving, right? Wrong!)
Solution: Do not attempt to feed the cat! If you attempt to put food in the trap (1) the cat might try to escape and/or (2) you might get mauled. Trapped cats are stressed out and rarely want to eat. Usually, their first attempt to eat is after their surgery. So just make sure both doors are secured shut, cover the trap and set it in a safe place out of inclement weather, then call your Fayette Humane Society contact person. More than likely they will overnight the cat and will be able to feed it up until midnight using the proper safeguards to prevent an escape.
What happens when cats are returned to me?
Looking ahead, there are things your cat will want you to know once it makes it through the TNV(Trap/Neuter/Vaccinate/Return) process.
- LEFT EAR: Cat’s left ear will be tipped (cut straight across)—a signal to future trappers that the cat has been TNVR’d and does not need to be caught again.
- PAIN MEDS: All cats are given pain meds before release from the clinic. For pregnant females, the clinic might provide additional pain meds to be administered twice a day for 3 days after surgery. They’ll be one of two types, both in a syringe:
Oral – Squeeze liquid from syringe between the cat’s gums and the cheek. You don’t want the cat to swallow the medication. Instead, it needs to be absorbed by the gums.
Mix with food – Squeeze liquid from syringe in cat’s WET FOOD, then stir like crazy since cats don’t like the taste of it.
- POST-SURGERY QUARTERS: Cats remain in their traps overnight for observation.
Male cats: They can be released the day after surgery, the lucky little felines.
Females: Need rest for 3 days; after all, they’ve had major surgery. The ideal place to recuperate is a shed or garage with a heater or fan, as needed.
- LITTER: If you need to house the cat for an extended period of time after the surgery, it will need special litter for 4 days post-surgery.
Regular litter’s grains and dust can infect the surgery wound.
The preferred type of litter after surgery is a pellet-type such as Feline Pine or Yesterday’s News. Even shredded paper will work.
- FEMALE CATS IN HEAT: After surgery they need to be kept away from male cats for 14 days!!!! Find a storeroom, shed, bathroom, etc. where they can be housed. See #5, above, for litter instructions.
DO NOT DISTURB THEM!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and include information about where you found the kittens, their current condition and how many there are. A FHS volunteer will get back to you, visit the area and recommend next steps (determined in part by the age of the kittens).