View Full Version : Advice on trap-neuter-release w/ birthing before the release?

03-03-2001, 11:38 AM
There are two sweet little feral cats that have been hanging around the back door of our police dispatch office, and several of us have been feeding them. The momma cat, Girlfriend, has already had one litter and now looks like shes a lot pregnant again. Her son, Little Babu, is starting to look pregnant also, so I guess were going to have to get used to calling him a her. Its probably too late to try to tame either of them, but we really need to stop this cycle of more and more babies. So trap, spay and release is probably what will be best for them, but we figure if we capture them before they give birth, their babies might have a chance at being adopted if we can handle them and get them used to humans.

Does anyone have any advice on how to borrow some cages that will be big enough for this purpose? I have a "puppy" size cage, but a litter box and not much else would fit, let alone 2 cats and their babies. If we have to buy cages, any advice for size? Should they be caged together or separately? What about a box for the babies when they are born? Will the adults know what to do with a litter box? Anyone in the Cincinnati area who has some cages we could borrow?

Thanks for any help and suggestions!

03-03-2001, 01:21 PM
I would call your local humane society, and if they don't have any ideas, try any veterinarian or animal hospital you know of that has friendly people. Would the Animal Control department of the police force have any traps to borrow? The two older cats, by the way, are not impossible to acclimate to humans - see the http://www.hicat.org , they have a lot of experience, unfortunately, with ferals of all ages. You say they're sweet, and at least used to you enough for you to feed them, they may become lap cats eventually!

4 feline house
03-03-2001, 08:45 PM
While reading your post I had the exact same thoughts that Karen expressed - if these cats are letting you get close enough to them that you know they are sweet, they are probably "dumped" as opposed to "feral" cats. Especially if they are "hanging around". Truly feral cats are rarely seen - you only know they are around because you hear them, or catch them as they are eating your cat's food, and even then you usually only see their backsides as they run for their lives. So it may not be as difficult to tame them down as it may seem.

There are alternatives to cages, although they may not be available. Keep in mind that the kittens will have to nurse for 6-8 weeks, so it will be that long before any spaying can even be done. Add this up to two month before they give birth (the gestational period is about 9 weeks - if they are visibly pregnant they are probably somewhere beyond their fifth week by now). A spare closet, bathroom, basement, etc. would be ideal, but I realize it's hard to find someone willing to devote a portion of their home to the exclusive use of a cat. The only cages large enough to be in use for the extended time you will need are very expensive - a minimum of $100. But even a feral cat knows how to use a litter box - it's in their nature to cover their waste, so they will naturally use any sandy substance for their elimination needs. And in an emergency, a full-sized box is not necessary - I've used those cheap aluminum foil-type baking pans they sell in the grocery stores for about 99 cents.

If it were me, I would rather wait until the current litter is born. That seems cruel, but I can't imagine those cats, and then their kittens, being caged up for weeks. If no one is able or willing to take them into their homes, I think they would be better off being left alone for now. It would still be possible to trap and tame the kittens, although it may not be possible to catch them all by that time. There would also be less of a chance that all the kittens would survive. But the first rule of cat rescue is - remember, you can't save them all.

I hope this helps, and God bless you for wanting to do something.

03-04-2001, 05:50 AM
Thanks for the encouraging words. Yes, these two do seem quite different from true feral cats. They really do seem sweet, but just afraid to let us touch them. They look a lot like the pictures of the American Shorthair cat. Little Babu is really tiny and I don't imagine she will get much bigger. She is from Girlfriend's first litter of three. Only 2 survived--black, shorthaired Little Babu and Fluffy, dead-on for a brown tabby Maine Coon, but really tiny underneath (hard to believe they came from the same litter!). The night Dispatcher was really making progress with Fluffy, hoping to take him home. He would even let her pet him and he had just begun to understand the pure joy of having his tummy rubbed--it wouldn't have been long before he was basking in the luxury of a nice safe, warm home. Sadly, he just didn't come back a couple of weeks ago. Coyote? Car? We're pretty sure he's dead. So, one kitten survives out of three and she's pregnant and so is her mom. The cycle continues, despite high mortality.

The news this morning is that Girlfriend was actually captured last night, but escaped during transfer to the bigger cage. I'm afraid she's just about to pop, though, and hope it's not too late to lure her again. Yesterday, as she basked in the sun on her side, you could see odd shaped bulges in her very round belly. Once she was startled and went about 30 feet and immediately was down again, panting and resting on her side. She seems very hungry and was still hanging around overnight, so maybe there's still hope. Little Babu has been captured (and reported to not be very happy about it) and I will go in later to check out the bigger cage someone brought in and see if we can't rig something up and put in the litter box. She may not be as far along as Girlfriend.

Tomorrow I'm going to call a local vet who I've heard has worked with feral rescues and see if he can give us any direction.

4 feline house
03-04-2001, 02:16 PM

Now that Babu is captured, a good way to let her know you mean no harm is to feed her lots of very good things to eat. Since she's pregnant and has been living on her own she could stand a very good diet now, anyway. If you can afford it and it's feasible, lots of homecooked stuff like chicken and rice, bacon, liver, good stuff like that, chopped up finely or coarsely blended - as well as a good quality kitten food (which will be best for her as long as she is pregnant/lactating - she needs the extra calories). Good luck getting Girlfriend.

03-04-2001, 03:11 PM
I would put good "smelly" food where Girlfriend is sure to smell it - it out to be pretty irresistable, and she probably hasn't gone far, in her current condition. So glad Babu is safe, even if she doesn't know that yet, I agree with "lots of food" and maybe, once she has fed and fed and is sated and sleepy, someone could try to at least talk to her quietly, get her more used to people in general.

03-04-2001, 04:22 PM
I went in this morning to put the new cage together. It's much bigger than the puppy cage and I put a tarp around all the sides except the front. I put a box and a towel in the back, litter box with scoopable litter in front. I figured out how to get her out of the trap without letting her escape. I just gently shoved the whole thing in with the door of the trap to the back and then gently rolled it over until the door opened. Took her awhile to figure out she was "free" and then I just verrry carefully opened the door and slid the trap out. Then I placed water and food crock right by the door. She's been eating Purina Cat Chow and I topped it off with some nice oily tuna which I know she likes. I think she used the litter box right away (you were right!) and by the time I left after cleaning up, I saw her back in the box, so at least I know she's sheltered and dry with all the other creature comforts.

I left the trap baited and set, but haven't heard anything about Girlfriend being captured. She really never seemed to go crazy for the tuna the way Babu did, but she was very hungry for the Cat Chow. So I hope her hunger gets the best of her!

03-05-2001, 01:11 PM
hi janeway!
It's great to see people interested in helping animals. Sounds like you've been doing a lot of the right things. Being in cat rescue, I've been able to deal with ferals, strays, and surrendered pets. I manage 2 feral cat colonies for Town Cats (www.towncats.org) here in California. They are a no kill rescue for cats in South San Jose. We pretty much do what you described about spay/neuter/release/maintain. While managing feral cat colonies, we have set up food and water stations. I have only seen "my ferals" a couple of times. Most of the time they are running away from me. But, I have seen who is in which colony, so I know when there is a "new member". When this happens, we set up "cat traps" to capture the cats. We have had pregnant mothers as well as mothers with very small kittens. We bring them to the shelter where we put them in their own private space. This is so the kittens can be weaned (or born for that matter). Usually we can socialize the kittens, but if the female is far to feral, we steralize her and return her to her colony when the kittens are old enough to go on without her.

I briefly lived in Cincinnati, OH and while I was there I looked around for places to do volunteer work.
You might want to contact
O'Bryonville Animal Rescue
P.O. Box 9206
Cincinnati, OH 45209
Phone: 513-871-PAWS (toll-free in Cinti)
Email: [email protected]
They also have a web page (http://www.theanimalrescue.com/about.html)

I know that they deal with ferals, so you may want to see if they will take your girlfriend and babu. They may also be able to offer assistance with the rescues and maybe even find homes for the expectant kittens!

There is also the League for Animal Welfare, but I'm not sure where they stand on stray/feral cats. Their contact info is:
League for Animal Welfare
4193 Taylor Rd.
Batavia, OH 45103
(513) 735-2299

Good luck with your efforts and keep us posted!!

"In a cat's eye, all things belong to cats." - English proverb

03-06-2001, 05:52 PM
Update on Girlfriend and Babu:

Babu is going to our local friendly TNR vet in the morning. Her uterus will be removed, she'll be tested and vaccinated to prepare for release or adoption. We figure if she is pregnant, she's so very young and not as far along as Girlfriend and that is one less litter we'll be responsible for. Also, the vet said there would not be enough privacy in the cage for Girlfriend and her kittens, so she's got to move out.

Girlfriend finally succumed to her appetite and was trapped and safely transfered to the cage. I've made a birthing box for her made from a copy paper box with a lid, which I cut a hole for her to go in and out and put her blankie inside. Just hope her wide load can get in. When I left this afternoon, Babu was inside. Does anyone know any exact measurments that are ideal for this purpose?

In the morning, I will attempt to lure Babu back into the trap with mackeral for the trip to the vet. They said that she needs to be in this type of small cage so they can safely (their's) mask her. It's going to be tricky to lure her with the food without letting her actually eat any, since food will be removed at midnight to prep her for surgery.

One encouraging sign, I think, is that there has been little to almost no hissing when cleaning the litter box, etc. Also, they have shown no sign of figuring out that it might be a good chance to attempt escape when the door is open.

Will keep you all posted!

4 feline house
03-06-2001, 09:53 PM
They probably already know you can be trusted, which is 90% of the battle.

It's also possible that they are indeed previously pets who have been abandoned, and are realizing that the good life my be returning to them.

Too bad about Babu and her lost litter, but I know it's a sad fact that this sometimes has to be done.

It sounds like y'all are all doing a great job.

03-06-2001, 11:17 PM
Indeed, it is sad about Babu's lost litter, however, I know that Girlfriend's litter has a really good chance of being adopted out. And that's a good feeling!