Last week, Alley Cat Rescue received a call from an owner of a local construction company. Both she and her staff had been caring for a colony of cats, but they’d begun to worry about the cats reproducing. What began as just a few cats slowly moving onto the construction site had now become a whole established colony.
The employees had fallen in love with the cats and built them multiple shelters. One of the cat houses even has multiple levels and might be nicer than some DC apartments! These workers spend their lunch breaks with the colony, and the cats love to get a bit of shared food.
With kitten season fast approaching, the owner knew she had to act. There were multiple females in the colony who were at risk of having kittens. The owner loved the cats but had never done Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) before, so we decided to head over to the site and do a little teaching so that she and her employees would be trained and empowered to sterilize any new cats that entered the colony.
When we arrived at the site, the cats immediately appeared. Although they stayed at a distance, they were used to people being present and didn’t run away from us, even as we set the traps. The construction company’s office cat, Sam, happily followed us around and watched us set up. Sam too would be coming with us to get sterilized, but all we had to do was pick him up and put in him a carrier!
Two minutes after we set the first trap, we had already trapped a cat. The owner did a great job at preparing for the rescue and had stopped feeding the cats 12 hours before we arrived. These kitties were hungry and definitely wanted some of the wet food in the traps.
An hour later, we had caught all but two cats. These last two cats were masterful at avoiding being trapped. The orange male even ducked his head into the trap and quickly grabbed some wet food before scurrying off! We decided to add more food into the traps, this time a very fragrant salmon wet food and wait out of sight for an hour. Sometimes the commotion of having people around can put the cats on edge, making them less likely to go into the trap.
At the end of the day, we finally had all the cats trapped and they were off to our spay/neuter clinic! When we later returned the cats to the construction yard they were happy to be home. Sam, the working cat, was so happy to be back that he leapt from our arms before stopping in his tracks and coming back for more belly rubs.
The owner and construction workers are excited to have their colony back! They’re relieved to know there won’t be any new kittens born outside in their colony and are now actively monitoring the colony for any new members in need of TNR.
Volunteers as young as 11-years-old helped Alley Cat Rescue locate and Trap-Neuter-Return 42 cats in Roanoke last week.
Olivia, 11-years-old, was one of more than 20 people in Roanoke who Alley Cat Rescue trained to TNR cats in partnership with the Mountain View Humane animal hospital and Barn Cat Buddies, a sanctuary for feral or skittish cats, to help manage colonies there. TNR is the most effective and humane way to treat feral cats and manage their colonies, according to Alley Cat Rescue’s Guide to Managing Community Cats.
“We had two volunteers come with us trapping ... they had never done it before,” said Niki Cochran, program manager at Alley Cat Rescue. She added ACR staff taught them TNR techniques, and that “they’re going to be part of the feral cat community for the rest of their lives.”
The workshop’s goal was to teach community cat advocates in Roanoke how to conduct TNR sustainably, said Alley Cat Rescue’s director Denise Hilton.
Several residents at the trailer park, located in a heavily wooded area, were eager to hear the community cats would be returned control rodent and snake populations, Hilton added.
On the workshop’s first day, Hilton presented on how to humanely capture community cats with traps lined with newspaper and baited with wet food -- “the smellier, the better,” Hilton said.
Alley Cat Rescue taught the community cat advocates trapping techniques they wouldn’t have learned otherwise, such as how to establish a feeding schedule to better lure the kitties into traps when they’re most hungry, Hilton said. Roasted or fried chicken -- such as KFC -- also work to entice community cats, she added.
“[The volunteers were] so excited … that we were able to give them more knowledge to help them along,” Hilton said. “They don’t work for an organization, they’re individuals -- they are out of the kindness of their hearts concerned for the cats in their neighborhood.”
On the second day, our staff ventured out with community cat advocates, including 11-year-old Olivia and the two volunteers who never trapped before, to humanely capture kitties who lived around a trailer park. On the third day, Mountain View Humane spayed and neutered those cats.
Cochran said the workshop was successful because Mountain View Humane was similarly motivated how a shelter would be to promote TNR.
“The head vet [at Mountain View] was definitely instrumental in making sure they had these more progressive policies [concerning TNR],” Cochran said.
To make TNR sustainable in Roanoke, Alley Cat Rescue gave Barn Buddies a grant to conduct 200 free spays and neuters, and gave Mountain View Humane a grant to conduct 100 free spays and neuters. These grants are in addition to the 42 TNR's completed with Alley Cat Rescue. Our rescue also plans to give another grant to Mountain View Humane for spays and neuters.
This workshop was part of Alley Cat Rescue's new Alliance for Cat Protection program. The program helps build a network of support for shelters throughout the United States.
Alley Cat Rescue provides these Alliance shelters with comprehensive training in humane programs for community cats, including public workshops and staff training that save animals' lives. Our dedicated team visits these communities to educate and provide hands-on support with TNR, just as they did in Roanoke.
You can help ACR provide more shelters with help by donating to ACR and earmark your donation ----ACR----Training and Education.
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.