Cats need to stay inside for 24 hours after spay/neuter, not to be safe from harm, but so their bodies can stay warm after undergoing anesthesia.
After going under anesthesia, cats can’t regulate their own body temperature. They need to be in a temperature controlled environment. If put outside, or in a cold place, their lives can be put in jeopardy. They should not go out to a shed. A laundry room or mud room inside the house is ideal. After TNR (Trap Neuter Return), also monitor cats for bleeding, infection or illness, and contact vet immediately if cat not breathing.
This stands true for all cats, except nursing moms, who should be let go to return to their kittens as soon as eyes open and look alert.
That’s the first thing that Paws learned when participating in one of Alley Cat Allies webnars on TNR.
TNR is indeed controversial. Does it work to have the cats spay/neutered? They says yes, and there’s lots of documentation to prove it. But that’s for another blog post. Here, we want to focus on Alley Cat Allies webnar. Even if you are a skilled, experienced person with TNR, it doesn’t hurt to go through a review. Here’s more about AEC Inc, if you’d like to learn more about documentation problems.
Paws helps with TNR. We specifically asked the webnar how to ensure we’d be successful when trying to trap a cat. Lots of places give you a specific time to bring in the cat for the spay/neuter.
While there’s no guarantee, you need to develop a time specific feeding schedule, and that means feeding the cat at the same time, and the same place leading up to the trapping. It does no good to feed the cat at 6 am, and then at 9 am. Cats are creatures of habit. They learn when to expect to be fed, and they will arrive at that designated time, not at our time of convenience. It’s beneficial to get the cats coming out and eating while you are there. That way you can find out how many are there, and how many have been neutered (count the ear tips).
After 30 minutes, pick up the uneaten food. It’s not appropriate leave out all the time, and it can attract predators like fox, coyotes or fishers.
Suggested food includes smelly tuna in oil to bait the traps. The oil seems to keep the tuna from drying out or freezing. Alley Cat Allies suggest putting 1 tablespoon on back end of the trap and drizzling a little bit zig-zag towards front of the trap. This is so the cats will have a relatively empty stomach for surgery.
Don’t use any full or half cans of tuna.
The small amount of tuna will attract the cat.
It’s not a bad idea to have the traps out, as well, or even putting the food in the trap. That way the cat will get used to the trap. Be sure to secure the trap so that it won’t close though, because it’s unlikely you will ever trap the cat twice.
Withhold food for 24 before you trap, and make sure no one else feeds the cats because you want to make sure they are hungry enough to get lured into the traps. Make sure you take a count of traps at beginning and end and don’t accidentally leave a trap behind, because one of the cats could be starve or be injured.
Put the traps on level ground. Never leave unattended. Even though it’s convenient for us, it’s not appropriate to trap and then leave for 8 hours of work. You want to place the traps where you can see them, but as far away from the house as possible.
Line trap with a few sheets of newspaper to cushion them for the ride, and help with the cleanup. A scared kitty is likely to pee and poop. Cardboard too heavy to trigger trip plate, Squish down the newspapers and shut the trap correctly.
Additionally, label the trap location. so you can return the cat to the exact same location once surgery and recovery is over. That helps the cat regain his sense of where he was before surgery, and go about getting back to his or her normal routine.
Once a cat is trapped, cover trap with sheet or large towel, as soon as possible. The cat will be scared.. As soon as cat is covered, cat will quickly calm down, and this will reduce the potential for injury. You can set them out covered in the field, with 3 sides covered and one open so the cat can get in to get his food. Some think this encourages the cat to come in even more
Before the trapping even occurs, arrange for transportation to the clinic or veterinarian’s office that will be doing the spay/neuter. Never stack the cages on top of one another. And always make sure they are in a temperature controlled environment. Don’t transport them in the bed of a pick-p truck.
Other musts Alley Cat Allies suggests:
- Consider help.
- Never do it alone.
- Bring cell phone.
- Make sure someone knows what you are doing
- And bring a partner to help with the trapping
Large cat colonies take even more planning and more help. If there’s 500 ferals, or even 50 to 100, you’ll need help from a lot of people. In that case connect with the local feral cat TNR for loan assistance. Even though vets and clinics want to help out, there will be some cost. You will need lots of trained people, or help getting people trained. With large numbers of cats, you may want to elicit the help of the municipality or county. You will also need to make sure the veterinarian or clinic can handle the large influx of cats.
Later this week, Paws will share some true stories of how feral cats have learned to adjust living with humans.
Paws hopes you’ve found this information helpful. Have you tried to trap cats for TNR? What was your secret to success? What’s the largest number of cats you’ve trapped? How did you learn about TNR? Please share your comments and stories.