Sunday, March 6, 2011

Trapping Feral Cats in Parks

Feral cats come from a long line of abandoned house cats. Many of the cats are left in state parks, and in wooded or forested tracks of land.  The house cats that are left in these isolated areas seldom survive as they lack in foraging skills. Some get cat disease, others are hunted by wildlife predators, and a few are injured by fighting with feral cats.  

The fate of an abandoned house cat that is left in a wooded area is many times a fatality; however some house cats survive the harsh terrain and environment.  Woodland feral cats sleep during the day and awake at dusk to forage, socialize and mate. The night provides a safer environment for the cats as they are terrified of humans. 

 Periodically cats will be viewed in the morning hours, they may be seeking food, water or they may be injured.  Trapping feral woodland cats does take skills as one must locate the colony and then bond with the cats.

Feral Cat Print print
Locate the Colony
Locate the woodland feral cats in state parks by asking the park ranger if there are any feral cats in the area.    Park officials know if cats have been abandoned or they will know where cats have been viewed. 

Find out if the cats are being cared for by a colony caregiver.  If there is a caregiver then offer your contact information and ask the ranger if they would pass on your business card.  

Tell them that you would like to help care for the cats and trap them for spay or neuter and the necessary medical care. If there is no caregiver then you will need to locate the woodland feral cats.  Go to the location were feral cats have been sited. 

Survey the wooded terrain with your field glasses.  Look for cat shelters; opening in a rock wall, hallow trees, thickets.  Hike to the area where you viewed the shelters.  Stop 15 to 20 feet away from the shelter and set up a feeding station.   

Set up Cat Feeding Station
Fill a bowl with dry cat food.  Food that is fortified with antioxidants will help in boosting cats immune system.  Fill a separate bowl with fresh water. If cats are viewed lurking in the distance, top the dry kibble with stinky fish flavored wet food like Friskies mixed grill.

Document Cat Activity:
Back away from the feeding station and stop twenty feet away.  Set up camp and watch the feeding station with field glasses.  Wait for woodland cats to appear.  

  1. Take photographs of the surrounding area, the woodland feral cats, and write your notes on the cats and shelter.  Document their characteristics, mannerisms, sex, and keep your notes in a binder. 
  2. Watch the food bowls; if there are many cats the bowl and water will need to be filled Do this by approaching the feeding station slowly, and do not make eye contact with the cats.  
  3. Fill the bowls and then back away from the area slowly.  

If you have completed your journal on all of the cats then you may leave.  However you must return to the feeding station the following day at the same time and set up the feeding station in the same location.  You will do this on a daily basis; it is best to feed cats twice a day; 6am and 6pm.

Bond with Feral Cats
Being a woodland feral cat caregiver is a daily job, these cats become dependent on you for food and hydration.  Soon you will notice that the cats are dependent on you for their food source, they will sit in a line and wait for your arrival, or they will run to greet you when they see you approaching the feeding station.  

The cats may seem friendly, however you must respect them at all times and do not attempt to pet them. If you do so this will scare the cat and the cat will react by scratching you or biting you.  If a cat bites you then animal control will cease the cat and euthanize the cat because it is not vaccinated for rabies or other cat diseases.  Therefore respect the cat and keep your hands away from the woodland feral cat.

Communicate with Veterinarian
Contact your veterinarian and inform them that you are a caregiver to woodland feral cats and that when they are dependent upon you that you will begin trapping.  Make arrangement s to bring cats in for sterilization, feline leukemia and AIDS tests, rabies shots, cat wormer and application for cat frontline plus.  Also contact your local cat network, for assistance in a group trapping.

Trapping Feral Cats
Schedule a group trapping for the colony of woodland feral cats.  Omit feeding the cats for 12 hours, however do provide water.  Purchase a medium size live animal trap.  Line the trap with newspaper that is folded so that it fits securely in the trap.  Drop two teaspoons of Friskies tuna canned food in the back of the trap, and  drizzle the juice down the center of the trap (on top of the newspaper) the stinky food will lure the hungry cat into the trap. Next drape a twin size blanket or a fleece sofa throw over the trap, do not conceal the opening of the trap. Spray the inside of the trap; blanket that faces trap interior with Feliway comfort spray.  This formula will help to relax the cat, so that it is not so stressed out.  Set the trap close to the vicinity of the feeding station.   Stand at a distance and watch and wait for the cat to enter the trap and the door to close.  Wait patiently.

When the cat enters the trap and the door closes.  Cover the entire trap with the twin size blanket, this blanket will aid in comforting the cat.  Do not attempt to touch the trap or the cat.  

Move the cat in the trap away from the trap site and place in the transport vehicle, a van is useful when trapping a colony of cats.  Transport cats to veterinarians for medical care.  

Release the cats to the trapping site when the veterinarian tells you it is okay to do so. 

  • When cats are released to the colony resume feeding the cats at the station.
  • Contact cat network in your area and ask for volunteer in your area to help with caring for the cats.
  • Rehabilitate kittens for adoption, by socializing them in your home or with the other caregivers.
  • Keep a current journal on all of the cats, that way you will know their medical needs and when they will need to be re-trapped for shot updates.

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