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Since feral/free roaming cats cannot be handled, they are humanely Trapped, Neutered and Returned (TNR) to their outdoor homes. With the help of a caregiver, a person(s) who provides shelter, food and overall monitoring of the cats, the birth of unwanted kittens decreases. TNR has been proven to be the most cost effective and humane method to decrease cat overpopulation in free roaming cats. View this PetSmart flyer about TNR.
TRAP: Catch the cat in a humane live trap.
Before You Begin
Establish a feeding routine with the cat. Feed the cat at the same time and place each day for at least one week prior to trapping. Pick up the food after about 30 minutes. Feeding out of an unset trap can help get the cat used to the trap, but be sure to remove the trap when the cat has finished eating.
You will need one humane live trap per cat. Traps are available for loan from Northwest Spay & Neuter Center, the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County and Next to Nature, or you may wish to purchase your own trap through Heart of the Earth Animal Equipment or your local Harbor Freight Tools store. Place approximately a tablespoon of food along the back of the trap. Place the trap at the site you intend to trap the cat, ideally its feeding area. Make sure the trap is on level ground. Set the trap, and leave the area quietly. The trap should be checked frequently.
NEUTER: Have the cat spayed or neutered.
After the Cat is Trapped
After the cat is safely trapped, cover the trap with a towel or sheet to help keep the cat calm. Bring the cat in the humane live trap to Northwest Spay & Neuter Center on our next surgery day (Tuesday-Saturday) at 8:30am. While an appointment is not required for trapped cats, we do appreciate a phone call or message letting us know when you’ll be bringing a feral/free-roaming cat to our clinic for surgery. During transport, you may want to place a garbage bag underneath the trap to protect the surface of your vehicle. Friendly, free-roaming cats can come in carriers but MUST have an appointment.
Northwest Spay & Neuter Center offers a special package for feral/free-roaming cats called “Project Catnip.” The “Project Catnip” package includes spay or neuter surgery, rabies vaccine, tattoo, ear tip (mandatory) and ear mite treatment. “Project Catnip” is FREE until further notice. Donations for these services are greatly appreciated.
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The cat will be ready to pick-up the day following surgery at 7:30am. Northwest Spay & Neuter Center staff will inform you of the cat’s status and any special instructions for their care. The cat should recover in a temperature controlled, draft-free environment, as the anesthesia makes the cat unable to control its body temperature. Confinement to a small room, basement, shed, or garage for 7–10 days is optimal. During kitten season, nursing females should be released within 24 hours of trapping. They will still be able to nurse the kittens after surgery. Offer food and water to the cat only when you get home.
Abnormal signs during recovery that will need attention by veterinary staff include any discharge coming from the surgery site, abnormal smells, biting or chewing at the incision site, and continued lethargy (not feeling well). If you have any concerns about the recovery of the cat from the time of discharge, please contact Northwest Spay & Neuter Center. You will receive a copy of Free Roaming Cat Discharge Instructions when you pick up the cat.
RETURN: Release the cat back to the location
where it was trapped.
Release the cat in the same place that it was trapped. Sometimes a cat may “disappear” for a few days after being returned, but will eventually reappear after a normal feeding schedule is resumed.
Thank you for following these steps to help minimize the stress of the cat throughout this experience. By bringing a feral/free-roaming cat to Northwest Spay & Neuter Center for sterilization, you have helped lessen the burden of cat overpopulation.
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