Catch, neuter and return feral cats

Spay and neutered feral kittens before return to our back yard and care.

With bedroom windows open in warm weather at night, more of us will hear feral cats fighting or crying for their babies. These domestic yet homeless cats live in the wild but aren’t wildlife. To decrease their numbers while still giving them a humane life, the answer is a catch-neuter-return program.

It would be nice if local governments would help fund such programs as residents don’t usually have cat traps or funds to pay for neutering.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t watch a cat starve or freeze to death in my back yard in 2005. Upon seeing the suffering, my husband and I decided to build a cardboard box shelter covered with plastic with old towels and an electric heating pad inside. Then, we gave it food and water daily.

We saved its life but didn’t realize at the time that was not enough.

After the weather turned warmer, we didn’t see the cat again until it had a little more weight on its bones. Unfortunately, the cat was pregnant, a common and regular condition for female feral cats without neutering.

As the cat nursed her three kittens in our back yard, we learned about the Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance where we borrowed traps and had the daddy cat and the kittens neutered. We released them into our back yard as we committed to feed and shelter them along with their mother as we tried to catch her.

After months, a neighbor caught the mother cat but not before she had four more kittens. Luckily, the neighbor then caught the mother and her four kittens. She took them to the Boulder Humane Society where the kittens were adopted. Then, she brought the mother cat into her own home.

My neighbor and I caught more cats on the street than we counted that summer and the next. In the process, we learned the Humane Society will neuter feral cats for a relatively low fee. Good thing we haven’t had to go there this year.

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6 Responses to Catch, neuter and return feral cats

  1. TheFelineFix says:

    Thanks to Shirley for bringing attention to humane methods for dealing with feral cats in our area. Next month, Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance (RMACA) opens The Feline Fix — the area's first affordable high quality, high volume spay/neuter clinic for feral and stray cats. Currently, RMACA spays and neuters approximately 3,000 ferals and strays annually. With The Feline Fix, RMACA can potentially double these numbers. With approximately 30,000 cats being euthanized in Colorado every year, spay/neuter is the only solution to the cat overpopulation problem.

  2. TheFelineFix says:

    RMACA encourages citizens with feral cats in their area to practice TNR (trap-neuter-return) — the proven method of humanely controlling free roaming cat populations. Please note the "R" stands for "return" and not "release." Feral cats are "wild," unsocialized cats — they cannot be adopted. Their outdoor territories are their homes. If they are released elsewhere after surgery, they will try to find their way back to their "homes" and may be hurt or injured in the process. To read more about feral cats and TNR, please go to http://www.rmaca.org. To borrow a humane trap or to make an appointment for a spay or neuter, please call 303.202.3516.

  3. Catsonkeys says:

    Shirley-
    Thank you and your neighbor for taking responsibility for the well being of the homeless cats in your neighborhood and for posting your story here, so that others might do the same. RMACA has also helped me spay & neuter the cats in our area and I am very excited to find out they will be increasing the ability to provide spay-neuter services to the public.
    So many people feed a stray, but don't know they can help so much more by getting the cat fixed. Trap-neuter-return is the humane way to insure that litters of stray kittens don't end up at the shelter every spring, taking homes away from the cats already waiting to be adopted. Thank you FELINE FIX for providing an affordable HUMANE method to save lives.

  4. FelineFix and Catsonkeys,

    Thank you for the reminder the program is trap-neuter-return, not release. I made a correction to the story to reflect that. Also, thank you for your efforts in caring for cats.

  5. BirdAdvocate says:

    Nowhere in this blog or the replies is the welfare of our natural wildlife mentioned! You use the words compassion, humane, and non-lethal when writing of an unwanted domestic pet illegally dumped into our ecology. Where is your compassion for the billion of our birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish they are estimated to kill each year? Perhaps, that number is exaggerated let's call it a half billion, shall we?
    Imagine the starving fledglings who weaken and die when the parents don't come home, the baby rabbits murdered in their nests. How could the life of an abandoned pet be more valuable than theirs? Let's act responsibly and adult and take the pets out of our fragile ecology!

  6. BirdAdvocate,

    On the topic of wildlife, let me mention numerous business places are overrun with rabbits in their bushes to the point they try to address the problem on their properties. But, rabbits are all over. I love the little bunnies, but they also cause problems as rabbits breed like …, well, rabbits. Squirrels are everywhere as well. Then, we’ve got problems with prairie dogs and skunks, foxes and deer, coyotes and lions, and pigeons and geese. And, don’t forget starlings overrunning birdfeeders. I’m not advocating the lives of feral cats be valued more than the lives of these other animals, but I am advocating they be valued.

    Thanks for your comment.

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