1. I have been feeding outdoor cats for a while, and they are reproducing. What should I do?
As soon as possible, trap the cats using humane box traps and have the cats spayed or neutered. Trapping feral cats sounds complicated but, in reality, it’s a simple and rewarding process, and it doesn’t hurt the cats. Once the cats are sterilized and vaccinated, return them to the place where they were trapped (kittens often can be tamed, sterilized and adopted). You and other volunteers then must provide ongoing food, shelter, and care to keep the cats healthy and safe. To learn how to do this safely, we suggest you attend an information session run by the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition (SAFCC). They have a schedule on their website under the TNR Resources tab (sanantonioferalcats.org/tnr-schedule/). For more information about Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) and feral cat colony management, see www.alleycat.org/ resources.html.
2. I can’t touch the cats, so how can I get them to the vet for spay/neutering?
Do not try to touch them! And never try to catch a cat by throwing a towel or blanket over the cat. Don’t use tranquilizers on outdoor cats—the risk of injury (to you and to the cat) is too great. Trap cats using humane (painless) box traps and have the cats spayed/neutered and vaccinated. Don’t wait, thinking the cats will get used to humans and become tame enough to catch. Even if that is possible, it takes too long and meanwhile several litters of kittens will be born.
Get them sterilized safely using the trap
They might become sociable, in time, but you don’t have to worry about more kittens
3. There are several cats to be trapped, but I have only one trap. Will that do?
Generally, no. And do not plan to trap a cat, then transfer him to a carrier so you can use the trap again right away—the danger of injury (to the cat and to you) or escape is simply too great. After attending an information session run by the San Antonio Feral Cat Coalition, you can borrow traps free of charge. You must have one trap per cat. If you do not have enough traps, try to trap all the cats in two or three sessions. How many cats you can trap during each session also depends on how many you can transport and how many the vet clinic will sterilize at one time.
4. Where can I find a veterinarian who will treat feral cats, preferably at a reduced rate?
There are several low-cost clinics in this area.
Hill Country Animal League (HCAL) in Boerne might be the closest one if you live around Bulverde/Spring Branch area. No appointments necessary Mon, Tue or Wed as long as the cat is in a humane box trap. NOTE: HCAL is closed every second Monday of the month for inventory.
The Austin Humane Society offers spay/neuter surgeries to cats in traps at $20 per cat (free for cats of Travis County residents). Appointments are necessary (http://www.austinhumanesociety.org/ferals/)
Emancipet is based in Austin but their mobile clinic comes out into surrounding areas. See the schedule on their website. Call or apply online to make appointments (http://emancipet.org/mobile/)
The SAFCC website has a page under the TNR Resources tab about local low-cost resources in San Antonio and surrounding areas (sanantonioferalcats.org/spay-neuter/).
5. Is there anything special my veterinarian should know about working with feral cats?
Yes! If your vet is new to working with feral cats, be certain to provide him or her with:
Trap, Neuter, Return: A Humane Approach to Feral Cat Control, a training video that demonstrates techniques and equipment veterinarians use to treat feral cats.
“Feral Cat Identification Protocol: Eartipping,” a factsheet with specific details about the identification technique that can save feral cats’ lives.
Both are available at the Alley Cat Allies website (www.alleycat.org). Review this material and then discuss with your vet what needs to be done. Establish a protocol to get the services you need now and in the future. Alley Cat Allies is the national advocate for TNR and their website is a wonderful resource to learn more about the process.
6. I’m looking for outdoor cats.
Your barn, stable or other out-building might be the perfect home for an outdoor barn cat. These cats provide you with rodent and snake control. In return, you provide them with fresh water, food and some sort of shelter. Some of our outdoor cats are friendly but cannot be inside for various reasons, but most are feral (not domesticated). All of these cats are spayed/neutered, vaccinated for rabies and healthy.
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