Community cats are unowned cats who live outdoors where there are available resources like food and shelter. Community cats, also called feral cats, are generally not socialized or friendly to people. They live full, healthy lives with their feline families (called colonies) in their outdoor homes. They are used to living outdoors and are naturally skilled at finding shelter and food all on their own. While some community cats tolerate a bit of human contact, most are too fearful and wild to be handled.
The 3 most common complaints about Community Cats are:
TNR "fixes" all of these problems.
Trap–Neuter–Return or "TNR," is the most humane and effective method known for managing feral and stray cats and reducing their numbers. The cats, who typically live together in a group called a colony, are trapped and brought to a veterinary or spay/neuter clinic. They're then spayed or neutered, vaccinated and ear tipped. After they've recovered from their surgeries, the cats are returned back to their original territory where a caretaker provides regular food and shelter.
Because the cats can no longer reproduce, the colony has the potential to decline in size over time. Spaying and neutering also greatly reduce nuisance behavior. Once the cats are fixed, fighting, yowling and other noise associated with mating stops almost entirely. The foul odor caused by unaltered males spraying to mark territory disappears and the cats, no longer driven to mate, roam much less and become less visible. The cats themselves are healthier and less likely to spread feline diseases. Meanwhile, rodent control is maintained by the cats' continued presence.
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.
Ear tipping is a surgical procedure that an outdoor cat undergoes when it is spayed or neutered It's a quick cut that removes the tip of the left ear. Ear tipping is the universal sign to let people know that the cat has already been spayed or neutered. It prevents a cat from being trapped a second time, and put under anesthesia unnecessarily.
Ear Tipping is highly recommended for outdoor cats.
Cats are natural born hunters. Free-roaming cats find many of their meals in rodents that are living around your community. Having feral cats controlling the rodent population can prevent rodents from making their way into homes and businesses.
Since cats are territorial, an established, stable, sterilized, colony of feral cats will deter other stray and feral cats from moving into the area. This decreases the risk of encounters of an unaltered cat, and will virtually eliminate problem behaviors like fighting, spraying, and yowling.
TNR is cost effective. When you can control your colony with altered cats, your cats will not invite new cats up to 3 miles away to want to move in and cause new expenses to alter, feed or provide vet care for because your cats are not spraying to attract strays.
Often cat caretakers are elderly men and women, a population at risk for depression, loneliness, and isolation. Cats relieve these conditions and often bring a sense of happiness, compassion, and purpose to people who care for them. Just as companion animals have been shown to extend life expediencies and relieve stress, caring for feral cats can improve the health and happiness of the caretaker.
Feral cats often live in colonies.
A stable cat colony is usually territorial and will prevent other cats from taking up residence and using their resources.
When someone removes an established cat colony, other cats will soon take advantage of the unguarded resources and the new colony will quickly begin to make babies. This is known as the vacuum effect.
The Vacuum Effect will happen....
Well documented among biologists, the vacuum effect describes what happens when even a portion of an animal population is permanently removed from its home range. Sooner or later, the empty habitat attracts other members of the species from neighboring areas, who move in to take advantage of the same resources that attracted the first group (like shelter and food). Killing or removing the original population does nothing to eliminate these resources; it only creates a “vacuum” that will inevitably draw in other animals living nearby.
Trap-Neuter-Return stabilizes feral cat populations. The cats are humanely trapped, vaccinated, and neutered, so no more kittens will be born. They are then returned to their original location to live out their lives in their outdoor home. Not only is Trap-Neuter-Return the humane option for feral cats, it also improves cats’ lives by relieving them of the stresses of mating and pregnancy. In the end, unlike catch and kill, TNR works.
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. 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.
IT IS VERY VERY IMPORTANT TO
NOT INTERFERE WITH WILDLIFE.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MAKE YOUR TRAP HARD TO RESIST!
Unfortunately we do not have the man power to feed on a schedule or monitor traps for all the feral cats in Bowling Green/Warren County. Feral cats do not trust humans, but they do have tolerance for the ones that provide them a resource.
HOWEVER, We will help you figure it out. Anyone that is feeding can be promoted to a colony caregiver. We are happy to lend support whenever you need it because we know that we can NOT accomplish the goal to spay/neuter these cats without you on our team.
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 year round 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:
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.
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.
USE STRAW NOT HAY ~ SUPER IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER!
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.
Most wildlife, such as possums, skunks, and raccoons only come out at night. If these animals are interfering with your trapping efforts, change your feeding schedule to earlier in the day.
If you accidentally catch a skunk, hold a sheet in front of you, down to your toes, as you slowly walk towards the trap. Skunks have poor eyesight. Move forward slowly, pausing after a few steps. If the skunk is nervous, she will warn you by stomping her front feet, so pay attention! If this happens, remain very still, giving the skunk 15 seconds or so to calm down. Drop the sheet over the cage. Skunks don't like to spray if they can't see their target.
If you trap a wild animal in or around Bowling Green that seems injured or for some reason you don't feel comfortable releasing it, call Lori Dawson with Wild-4-Life 270-991-1289
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,i n the case you would like to purchase and have your own traps. If you need help, we can also put you in touch with experienced trappers that are happy to give you advice if needed.
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.