Trap, neuter, return feral cats

by CynthiaYockey on April 3, 2010

This ABC News story describes a population boom of abandoned and feral cats in Miami. I expect the man they show trapping cats is taking them to be euthanized and they didn’t have the guts to say so. It is a pity that the woman they interviewed who is feeding homeless cats near her condo has not done any research online to check out the best way to help abandoned and feral cats.

One situation in which cats are most commonly abandoned is when most of their kitten cuteness has worn off and they hit sexual maturity — and their keepers suddenly have no use for them and discard them instead of neutering or spaying them. Another is when people move and cannot find a home that will accept their cat, or they cannot afford to take the cat.

Abandoned tame cats who are sexually intact breed and their kittens become feral because they are not socialized to people.

(Our Beauregard and his brother, Remington, were feral kittens. I got their mother, Spats, spayed. Ivan and his girlfriend, our dear late Sophia, were abandoned together when they hit sexual maturity.)

Alley Cat Allies teaches people how to trap, neuter and return cats that cannot be socialized enough to live in a home with people. They also teach people how to manage colonies of cats to keep them healthy. Ironically, in areas where cats are commonly abandoned, such as places with lots of condos, apartments and townhouses, keeping a managed colony of cats who have been spayed or neutered and given basic vaccinations ensures the neighborhood does not get overrun with cats — they drive away rivals.

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  • Amy

    Warning: this is long.

    Years ago, I rented an apartment in an old farmhouse. Prior to this, I had no experience with cats. The barn of course was full of feral “barn cats” who were allowed to breed as they wished (producing some pretty sad mutations) and for the most part these cats kept to themselves, rarely coming into the yard. AND THEN, the farmer allowed a relative to drop off an unaltered brother and sister pair of house cats. They naturally made their way into the yard, and the next thing I knew the male had adopted us. Before I could get him fixed, he had sired a litter two of whom survived and who I adopted (no doubt on their paternity Baby & Spanky were definitely Flopsy’s).

    I got all three fixed but could not get a hold of Flopsy’s sister (who we wound up naming Mama Cat, for the obvious reason), as she had become reclusive after her abandonment. This coupled with my ignorant neighbor putting her unaltered female Bo “out in the yard” because she couldn’t deal with her and couldn’t afford to get her fixed led to what eventually I called Kitten Calcutta. You couldn’t walk from your car to the door without a horde of cats descending upon you. It was awful.

    In my own ignorance, I did feed them. I felt so bad for them, but I was a newlywed and we had no money to spay/neuter this ever growing population. I was lucky enough to hook up with an organization called The Spade Club, who partnered with a local vet, and I was able to get 6 of the females fixed, including poor Bo. I tried my damndest to find good homes for everyone, and managed to place quite a few kittens. The kicker is that the farmer’s sister called me and accused me of “keeping cats” in violation of the lease. Now at this time in my life I was quite the pushover, but that woman pissed me off so bad I freaked out and let her have it – I felt a lot of this could have been avoided if they had told their relative that they could abandon Flopsy and Mama Cat only if they got them fixed first.

    Sadly, my marriage ended and I left the farm. My biggest regrets are Bo, whom I could not place (and who my Mom would not let me take – she generously let me move home, but she is not an animal person and I was only permitted to bring one cat – had to pick my Lily, who is a skittish wreck and could never survive as an outdoor cat) and Jack the Rabbit, whose mama had the good sense to birth him in the yard where some fool lady was providing resources unavailable in the barn. He was about half-feral, and I had been making real progress with him – right before I moved away he consented to “walk under my hand”. I had to leave them all. I’ll never forget Bo looking up at me when I brought her back there after she was allowed to stay at my mom’s long enough to heal from her surgery. I know she had thought she had found a home.

    My three original cats Flopsy, Baby and Spanky stayed with my ex-husband.

    I found out later an upstairs neighbor had used a shotgun “to take care of the problem.”

    I made a lot of mistakes, I know that now. I wish I had known then – I wouldn’t have let so many of those cats down.

    • Amy,

      Thank you for sharing your story.

      Alley Cat Allies teaches people how to deal with this problem and find veterinarians who spay and neuter feral cats. Besides searching online, places to check for low-cost spaying and neutering are your local animal shelter, the SPCA and the Humane Society.

      Cynthia

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