TNR tips from a first hand experience.
I’ve just started volunteering for Feral Paws. Last night was the first time I’d been out “on my own” trapping. I wasn’t really alone, though. Not only had a brought another volunteer with me, but Aubry, one of the founding members of Feral Paws, was just a text away. In fact, I texted her a picture of the first tabby we trapped because I thought she might be too young to get fixed.
Aubry had taken me out to this location a week or so before and we’d had good luck. The client has about 10 -12 cats in a colony that she’s been taking care of. The situation arose from an all too common scenario. Neighbors moved away and left their non-neutered cats behind to fend for themselves. A little while later and there’s lots of kittens and too-many cats. We’re trying to reduce the kitten production and allow the cats to have a quality life with their caretaker.
And this colony does have a nice life; the caretaker is out in the morning and at night feeding. She’s been taking them to the vet and caring for the kittens who get respiratory infections. She’s an ideal client, who really cares for the animals and their well-being. She also realized that if nothing was done, her little colony would continue to multiply.
So far, we’ve trapped and returned seven of the twelve. Here’s what I’ve learned so far about trapping from Aubry, Feral Paws, and the Experience:
Leverage Caretaker Trust
While these felines didn’t trust us strangers with our traps, they all recognized and trusted the caretaker. When she stepped onto her porch, the cats literally swarmed. We set the traps and then let the caretaker walk around and drop the food in. This worked really well.
We use newspaper in the bottom of our traps. A very thin layer will do. Fold the open side of the sheet about an inch toward the binding. It’s easier to slide along the trap and over the plate. We used a few pieces of scotch tape to keep the paper flat. Kitties are very sensitive to crinkly paper and funny feelings on their paws so try to get it smooth and flat.
Probably a given, but sardines straight from the can were really bringing this crowd in.
I was nervous, so I labeled the traps with index cards and set up the newspaper in the bottoms before I got to the location. Then we just set the traps when we got there. We use the index cards to write the cat descriptions and our contact info and billing info for the vet on the trap. I taped mine on with masking tape. It took me and a friend about 15 minutes to set up 5 traps and load them into my car. I also buy a cheap plastic painting tarp to put in my car under the traps (just in case).
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
It takes two nights to do this successfully. The first night is trapping and overnighting those you’ve trapped – and the second day is surgery and the second night is recovery night. Make sure you’ve got two free nights, or someone else who has space. I goofed this up, but Aubry helped me find another volunteer at the last minute who saved the day!
Can't wait for the next one!