Our yard was beginning to look like the "crazy cat lady" lived there.
After watching a feral momma cat have two litters of kittens in about eight months, it was time to do something. After a bit of research, we found the TNR (trap/neuter/release) program in our area.
We talked with the program director and discussed how best to get started. We picked a couple of weeks that there would be at least three traps available to begin trapping (shouldn't it be called "let the fun begin" instead?). And after reading the instructions on how best to trap (hint: it involved smelly canned food), we set up the traps and waited. A few hours later, my husband informed me that he thought we had caught something. I anxiously ran outside only to find a trap in the middle of the front yard with no food, and no cat. After resetting the trap, I decided to head to bed.
The next morning, all three traps remained untouched. That night, however, a dog decided to check out that smelly canned food and ended up running around with a cage stuck to his head until he was able to shake it off and run away.
Wasn't this supposed to be easy? Discouraged, I put the traps away for a few days before trying again.
Three days later...success! We finally captured two cats. A couple of nights later, two more cats were trapped--one was the father of the two litters.
In the TNR program, once a cat has had their neuter procedure, their left ear is tipped off, making them easily identifiable as a cat who has already been neutered. We still had not had success with trapping "Momma" (yes, we had named her). She would sit outside the cages and watch as we would carry the trapped kittens into the garage. She even looked on as we captured the daddy cat two more times with what I swear was a grin on her little face.
Our attempts to catch Momma continued for about four weeks when we decided to change the rules of the game. Instead of using canned food and newspaper on the floor of the trap, we added a warm, fleece bed and dry cat food. Within two hours, Momma had fallen for our sneaky tactics and was all ours. She wasn't too happy about it, either.
After all of our TNR drama, it is interesting to note that, while we don't see all of the cats we trapped anymore, there are a few who have made the area their own and we are seeing fewer "outsider" cats coming around.
October 16, 2012 is National Feral Cat Day. For more information, and to find a program in your area, visit alleycat.org.
This post contributed by guest blogger, Laurie Miller. Laurie is a practice consultant for AAHA and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her three dogs and husband (who she describes as the best dog-dad ever). Although it requires extensive travel, Laurie finds her job extremely rewarding because she is able to impact the lives of pets by helping veterinary practices to meet the AAHA standards of excellence.
Edited by Sarah Rumple.