A few days ago I did my first TNR (trap, neuter, return).
The cat who I trapped is a beautiful fluffy feral kitty who lives around my office building. I feed her and her feline BFF for the last few months. They are the sweetest kitties and I love them as if they were my own cats. It’s like cats have this special power that makes humans love them and want to take care of them forever (or is it just me?).
Seeing them lurking through the office glass doors makes a boring work day a lot better! They put a smile on my face every time I look out. I named them Mucc Mucc and Sissy – Sissy is afraid of people while Mucc Mucc is friendly and allows me to pet her.
- Onto my first TNR experience
- The sad truth
- A few tips for a successful TNR
- 1. Find a vet before you trap the kitty
- 2. Put delicious food inside the trap – emphasis on delicious
- 3. If you’re their feeder – skip one meal so they are desperate to get to the food
- 4. Don’t be too close to the trap
- 5. Cover the trap with a towel or a piece of fabric after you trap the kitty
- 6. Put a cover on the car seat in case of accidents
- 7. Try to take the cat to the nearest clinic
- 8. Be ready to keep the cat enclosed for a few days
Onto my first TNR experience
Long story short, a week ago Sissy appeared with nasty wounds on her face. I decided it is time to take her to the vet to get it checked out and spay her at the same time to prevent unwanted kittens.
I got in touch with the local cat rescue that does TNR and asked them for the advice. We agreed that they’ll borrow me their cat trap, I will catch Sissy, take her to the vet and pay for the expenses. We had a day off the next day because our country (Croatia) won the second place in the FIFA World Cup so it was the perfect time to do it.
I thought I’ll have to wait for hours for her to come and to lure her into the trap but it all went so smoothly. I prepared the trap, placed small pieces of meat in front and all the way to the end of the cage, and went to find her. She was just a few meters from the building and meowed as soon as she saw me. Expecting delicious goodies, she carefully followed me to the trap. After eating all the food in front of the trap, she entered the trap to eat the rest. When the trap closed she started freaking out and jumping like crazy! I felt so sorry for her, seeing her in distress caused by me… I covered the trap with a piece of fabric so she would calm down, and drove her to the vet.
The vet was in touch with the cat rescue about everything so I left her there and went home, with a big worry on my mind.
Here are a few photos of Sissy while she was recovering at the cat rescue. She looked so sad 🙁
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The sad truth
I was by my phone the whole time, eagerly waiting to hear how the procedure went. Then I got a call from the cat rescue and it wasn’t what I expected at all. Don’t worry, Sissy is doing great. But she was very much pregnant, and they aborted the kittens and spayed her.
I felt awful.
How didn’t I notice she was pregnant?
Why couldn’t they let her have her babies when they were already alive in her tummy?
I felt and still feel guilty. Living beings are no longer living and I am the contributing factor to this. Before this, I had no idea vets do abortions, and I never thought Sissy would be pregnant. She was always so fluffy so I didn’t notice the growing belly.
Most people told me this was the best option – the kittens would probably die or suffer being born by a feral mom. But there’s always that “but” lurking inside my mind. What if we could find good homes for them? What if they would be healthy kitties and live good lives? But what was done was done and it can’t be reversed.
I returned Sissy 4 days after the spay. She ran out of the trap like there’s no tomorrow and disappeared for the rest of the day. I expected her to hate me and run away as soon as she sees me from now on but she acted as if nothing happened by the second day. She approached me (1 meter is the closest I can get) and meowed at me as always. I was so relieved! Maybe she won’t hate me after all!
A few tips for a successful TNR
After telling you about the part of TNR I didn’t like, I might as well share a few tips that nice people shared with me before doing my first TNR. Of course, I am not an expert it TNR – I only did it once! But I got many useful tips from people who do it for years. Hopefully, those tips can help you too. I encourage you to read other people TNR posts too, those written by more experienced people.
1. Find a vet before you trap the kitty
Some vets aren’t used to working with feral cats and you want to take the cat to an experienced vet who knows how to handle scared ferals to minimize the stress. Some of them won’t even take feral cats in their clinic for whatever weird reason. That’s why it’s best to make a few phone calls before bringing the cat in, just to make sure you and the cat will be welcome there.
Try asking a local cat rescue for a vet recommendation. I went to the vet who is working with the cat rescue so they gave me a discount. That might be an option in your city too.
Some vet clinics require you to schedule a spaying procedure a few days ahead which might not be an option for you. It’s best to get everything sorted out with the vet before you bring the kitty.
2. Put delicious food inside the trap – emphasis on delicious
Scatter a few small pieces of meat such as chicken in front of the trap and all the way to the end of the trap. The lady from the cat rescue suggested I don’t use kibble because it might not be tempting enough but to use chicken instead. However, I didn’t have any chicken, so I used kibble and bacon. But there’s a bigger chance the cat will go into the trap if you put chicken or another delicious meat instead of kibble.
Don’t put too much food in front of the trap. You don’t want the cat to get full before she enters the trap!
3. If you’re their feeder – skip one meal so they are desperate to get to the food
If you’re the one feeding a feral cat you want to trap, make sure they are hungry enough to go for the food inside the trap. If the cat doesn’t want to enter the trap, try skipping their meal to motivate them to go inside.
4. Don’t be too close to the trap
Standing too close might scare the cat away. Instead, sit on a bench, go inside your car, in the house or any place that is far enough from the trap but close enough to see what’s going on. The cat will feel safer.
5. Cover the trap with a towel or a piece of fabric after you trap the kitty
The cat will freak out when you trap her and covering the trap will calm her. She cannot see what you are doing and where you’re taking her so it will be easier on the kitty, and you.
6. Put a cover on the car seat in case of accidents
Although it’s not common for the cat to do their business in the car, it’s advisable to cover the seat anyway, just in case. I used a seat cover designed for dogs and it worked great to keep all the cat hair from spreading around the car. Thankfully, there was no peeing.
7. Try to take the cat to the nearest clinic
If you have several vet clinics to choose from in your area, it might be the best to take her to the nearest one. Spending only a short time in the car will be less stressful for the cat.
8. Be ready to keep the cat enclosed for a few days
Depending on the cat’s sex, they might need to stay enclosed somewhere for a few days. If you neutered a male, he can be released after approximately 24 hours but females need more time to recover. It is best to keep the female cat inside for 3-4 days, maybe even longer if they were pregnant. A spayed female cat should be able to recover well after 3-4 days. If there are no complications, the cat is eating well and acting normal, you can release her where you found her (unless you want to adopt her).
If you have no place to keep a female cat in for a few days, see if the vet can keep her. But that comes with an additional fee. Maybe a member of your family or a friend is ready to take her for a few days until she recovers.
I hope your first trap, neuter, return will go smoothly and that your cat will not be pregnant like mine was!
What do you think about spaying pregnant feral cats?
Do you believe it is the best option for the momma cat and the unborn kittens? Or do you feel aborting kittens shouldn’t be an option?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.