As promised, I am posting my prep lists on this website, so that others like us, who are committed to catching a feral/stray can and taking care of it, don’t have to spend as many hours as we did to collect all required information. None of the articles listed in the sidebar menu are in any way, shape or form ‘official’ lists.
We are not liable for anything that goes wrong or does not work for your circumstances. Our lists are merely suggestions and personal experiences, so don’t make them your gospel or your sole guideline. Take what you like, and leave the rest…
Due dilligence – find the facts first
Your personal motivation
- Are you attached to a feral or stray and is that motivating your boundaries for a rescue operation?
- Or do you want to get involved on principle, as a volunteer or a foster address?
Our motivations came from the first category and it influenced our choices heavily.
Emotional attachment, rightly or wrongly, generally makes it much harder to make tough decisions. The whole concept of capturing a semi-wild animal, can tug at your heart strings and conscience. Just be aware of this before you start your project. Know what you are getting yourself into. This is not a business. This is personal. And it will involve multiple months of commitment.
Choose a rescue organisation to actively support you
Write emails, make phone calls, visit pet stores and other adoption locations and talk to the people who are actively and personally involved in rescueing animals and their further future. Choose a rescue organisation that is responsive and respectful. Stay away from those who try to force your hand or just have theoretical knowledge. Choose who you feel comfortable with. It may be that you really ‘click’ with a specific person, or that you strongly support how they deal with their rescues.
Elements to consider:
- Do you just want to be the ‘bell-ringer’ that reports possible ferals and strays that need trapping? Or would you like to become more actively involved?
- Do you have access to a trap (borrow, rent, buy your own)?
- Do you wish to be actively involved in the trapping process and are you OK with doing that independently or having people over at your house to help?
- Do you wish to be actively involved in what happens after trapping – and do you have the knowledge about and the access to the materials to do this or are you willing to invest in them?
- Do you support aborting pregnant females and neutering them immeditately after capture?
- Do you prefer to help raise and then surrender a litter of kittens for adoption?
- Are you comfortable with pediatric neutering of kittens? Or would you prefer it when this surgery is done at a later age?
- Do you want to keep feeding neutered ferals when they are released in your area?
- Do you want to be involved in setting up or maintaining a colony or barn-yard project?
We have found that some rescue organisation dictate the process quite rigidly, and will not co-operate with you if you are not willing to follow all of their principles. Others focus on cooperation with you and the general public, and are willing to help you if you wish to become involved in the follow-up process.
It was hard for us to accept that our role would be limited to just being the ‘bell-ringer’, setting the trap and never seeing with our own eyes what would happen to and with the cat. We were interested in seeing the project come to completion with our active help and involvement. Not all rescue organisations appreciate such an attitude. And we understand. Not every person’s word is their bond and not everyone who has a caring heart towards ferals and strays knows what they are getting themselves into. We also realise that mentoring people through an experience like this is a huge time-investment that not everyone is able or willing to commit to. We figured that in order to become experienced, we had to live through the experience at least once.
Start with a TNR course
Covid 19 has many silver linings, one of which is that many courses can now be done online. In order to get a more complete view of what is involved in trapping, neutering and release operations, it is wise to follow a TNR course: Trap, Neuter, Release. The cost is usually low and your contribution will help the volunteers who organise the courses offer more education and support to more people and thereby helping more cats.
If you have a veterinary hospital for your own pets that you feel comfortable with, approach them about your plans. If you do not have a pet at the moment, approach several of them in your area, online or in person, to find out more.
In our case, we offered to make our conversation with our regular vet a paid visit, to make sure that she did not resent investing time in us, while also having a busy professional agenda. She did not take us up on that, because she cares so much for our furry friends, but I think she appreciated the offer. It turned out she was willing to work with us, but she also told us very honestly she had little to no experience with ferals. Her clinic also did not (yet) participate in low-cost rescue surgeries or consultations.
In cases of emergency though, she would be there for us. Her practice is around the corner from where we live, so this was important to us, even after we chose a Rescue group to work with, planning to use their (low-cost and free) resources rather than paying out of pocket for expenses and use our own vet.
Finally: community – communicate
Make sure that what you think is a feral or a stray animal is not in fact owned by someone. They may have differrent caretaking standards than you, but if they own the animal, you cannot go ahead, trap and have surgery done on it. Use Facebook, community blogs and veterinary hospitals to distribute pictures and the general location of the animal you think is a feral or a stray or a lost cat. Give it a few weeks, unless due to medical circumstances you cannot wait that long. Keep an eye on these resources after trapping as well. Maybe someone notices late that their furry friend is missing for more than a couple of nights/days. Find out if your neighbours have outdoor cat. If so, ask if they are willing to keep them inside when the traps are set to prevent their own kitty from being caught. Do not tell them your life’s story or where you plan to do the trapping to prevent unwanted attention; keep it simple.
Now onto your shopping list and practical tips!