How to be a colony caregiver

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A feral cat caregiver provides food, water, shelter, monitors for newcomers to the colony and monitors the health of the cats. The caregiver humanely traps the cats in a feral cat colony and gets them spayed or neutered and ear tipped for identification.  

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 An evening feeding schedule is the key to the success of any TNR program. 

Feeding around 5PM or any afternoon before dusk will work best. It allows the caregiver to monitor and manage the colonies needs. Cats are very smart and resourceful. They will learn your schedule and they will be waiting for you to feed them.

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Feeding before dusk also prevents attracting bugs, pests and wildlife such as skunks and pesky raccoons. Feed your colony from a bowl so any left over food can be easily cleaned up. Leaving out food will cause your cats to not show up at your designated feeding time. 


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IT IS VERY VERY IMPORTANT TO NOT INTERFERE WITH WILDLIFE SO NO ANIMALS WILL SUFFER. 


When you leave food out it attracts skunks and raccoons to businesses and neighborhoods .  When wildlife decided to take up residents because of the food resources there natural behaviors become a nuisance to humans.  When humans call pest control to have them removed, these animals WILL suffer.


DO NOT LEAVE FOOD OUT. 

ONLY FEED WHAT YOUR CATS CAN EAT WITHIN 30 MINUTES.


IT IS VERY VERY IMPORTANT TO NOT INTERFERE WITH WILDLIFE SO NO ANIMALS WILL SUFFER. 

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 Feeding in the evening gives a caregiver an added advantage. A cat must have an empty belly before surgery. Trapping the night before the spay/neuter surgery allows the caregiver to control food and water intake ensuring the cat is safe to under go anesthesia.  

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5-7 days before your spay/neuter appointment wire a trap open. Use stinky bait like can food, tuna in oil or even cat nip to lure the cat into the trap. Place the food in the opening of the trap. Each evening move the bait closer to the back of the trap to train the cat to go into the trap to eat. On the evening before the spay/neuter appointment set the trap so it will trip when the cat goes in. Remember to not put to much food in the trap so the cat will have an empty stomach before the surgery. Use newspaper or cardboard in the bottom of the trap for paw comfort.

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  You will need an appointment before you set the trap to make sure the clinic has the availability to fix the cat.


Drop the cat off at the clinic at 8am on your appointment date using the Louisville Rd entrance. 


When the cat has recovered, a volunteer will return the cat to the address you have given. 

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If you are trying to trap a specific cat you can try the water bottle trick. Tie a string around a water bottle, a stick or any other item that will prop the trap door open. If you are  feeding on a schedule the cat will appear when you are  ready to trap. When the cat you are targeting goes all the  way into the trap, pull the string and you will catch the cat. If 2 cats go in and one of them is the one you are targeting,

still pull the string. Don't miss an opportunity to trap your target.

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 MAKE YOUR TRAP HARD TO RESIST!

  • Catnip (smear fresh catnip on trap plate)
  • Try other types of bait, such as tuna in oil, mackerel, canned cat food, sardines, anchovies, or cooked chicken. Catnip (smear fresh catnip on trap plate)
  • ALL CATS LOVE A LASER POINTER! You may be able to guide some cats into a trap with a laser pointer. You can use a pointer from quite a distance away, too. Use the laser to emulate the movement of an insect, to draw the cat’s attention inside the trap.
  • Hang a piece of cooked chicken from a string above the trigger plate. The cat will likely need to step on the trigger to reach the chicken. Tie the chicken in the far right corner of the trap so that the cat must “reach” to get the chicken.

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Use a sheet or blanket to cover the trap. The cover helps the cat feel hidden and it is less stressful. 


Leave the cat in a covered trap. Do not try to pet the cat. Feral cats bite and scratch to defend themselves.  

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Cats with tipped ears have been spayed or neutered. The goal is to make sure all the cats in your colony have tipped ears.  

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You will need an appointment before you set the trap to make sure the clinic has the availability to fix the cat.

Drop the cat off at the clinic at 8am on your appointment date using the Louisville Rd entrance. 

When the cat has recovered, a volunteer will return the cat to the address you have given. 

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 Keep in mind, Cats need to eat more in the winter.  

 The extra food helps them maintain their body heat.

Feeding your cats on a schedule (preferably early evening before dusk), will keep them healthy and strong. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re feeding the kitties:

  • Adult cats will eat about a half a cup of dry food everyday.
  • If the cats eat all the food in 15 minutes or less, they may need more. If there’s always food left after 30 minutes, you might be giving them too much.
  • Cats love canned wet food, but dry food is just as nutritious and helps prevent tooth decay.
  • Don’t leave uneaten food out for more than 30 minutes—it attracts bugs, pests and wildlife.
  • Keep the feeding area clean and in one maintained location—it’s better for the cats’ health and the community will appreciate you.
  • Don’t worry if some cats eat before others. Felines with seniority in the cat community may eat before others who are lower on the social scale. You shouldn’t try to manage this interaction. It’s a cat thing.


WATERING TIPS

Cats need fresh water every day, in all weather conditions. During the winter, there are tons of ways to keep water from freezing, like using heated water bowls and shielding the bowls from wind. In the summertime, water is extremely important, so make sure the cats have ample sources. 

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 We have found that an old insulated cooler with a 6 inch hole cut for an opening makes the best winter home for a cat. We recommend spray painting them to match their surroundings so they are less noticeable to someone or something that may not like the cats being there. 

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  USE STRAW NOT HAY 

SUPER IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER!

  • Hay holds water, will mold and does not insulate. 
  • Blankets freeze when they get wet from the weather giving the animal a bed of ice to sleep on. 
  • Carpet freezes when it gets wet from the weather giving the animal a bed of ice to sleep on. 
  • Straw repels moisture, making it ideal for keeping cats and other animals warm and comfy all winter long. Straw resists the wet and keeps a shelter warm, and is the best choice for insulation and bedding.

Check the bedding in the winter house often (more in wet weather). Refresh straw as needed. Place a rubber mat or plastic bag under the straw which can be removed and washed/disinfected when you change the bedding. 

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 Our shelter has a limited supply of traps to lend out. You can barrow one for 7 days for a refundable $50 cash deposit.


Traps are also available for purchase at TSC and Harbor Freight in Bowling Green, in the case you would like to purchase and have your own traps.

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 If the cats in your colony are bothering your neighbors you can place deterrents on their property for about 2 weeks.  Cats will quickly learn to stay away from that area so your neighbors will be happier. It is best for the cats and this program that everyone involved is happy and that the cats are performing as assets to our community.  

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We NEED more cat loving volunteers!! 

We are always looking for people that care about cats to join our TNR team.  In our monthly meetings we will discuss progress, new areas to work, train new members and problem solve any issues care givers may be having.


If you are interested in joining our team, we meet every 2nd Thursday at 6:15 and you are always welcome to come!


Meeting location: Davis/Mosby Center

                                  1951 River Street 

                         (Formerly Old Louisville Rd)

It is behind the shelter in the gray building. 


What are some of the ways you can help save lives through our TNR program?

  • Be a colony care giver 
  • Be a mentor to a new colony care giver 
  • Be a recovery home
  • Be a releaser 
  • Be an investigator 
  • Be an assistant/volunteer where ever needed 
  • Be a trapper trainer 
  • Be a one cat trapper mentor 


If you have more questions, please email Tracy Moser: TracyMoser.BGWCHS@gmail.com