Carrying Out a TNR Programme SNUO International
Select your area
You have done the research and assessed the problem. You know which cats can be re-homed. You know that feral cats can be put back there, and who will feed them and monitor their welfare.
Acquire your equipment
The more equipment you have, the faster you will be able to control the population of cats in the selected area. You could start with one trap and 2 TTRs, but you will soon find that for the programme to work smoothly it is necessary to have at least two traps, 4 TTRs,and as many as 12 recovery baskets.
The procedures to be undertaken will be:
  • Castration of males
  • Spaying (ovario-hysterectomy or ovarioectomy) of females
  • Ear-tipping See 5.
  • Antibiotic and analgesic treatment (recommended)
  • Treatment against endo- and ectoparasites (recommended)
  • Rabies vaccination (if required by the veterinary authorities)
  • Identification, if required by local authority. See 5
You will also need to discuss with your vet and come to agreements on
  • What to do with pregnant females and young kittens. See here and here.
  • Vaccination against feline diseases (if your budget permits)
  • Treatment of sick cats See here.
  • Euthanasia of very sick, old or injured cats See here.
The methods recommended should avoid the risks of bites and scratches, but accidents can happen. Anyone dealing with feral cats or street dogs should be vaccinated against tetanus, and possibly hepatitis and rabies.
Bites and scratch wounds should be washed immediately, and if signs of inflammation develop you should take broad-spectrum antibiotics.
For safety it is advisable to work in pairs.
Remember to respect people's property.
Feral Ginger male in Regents Park, LondonTrain the trappers
A trapper needs to be familiar with the equipment and know how to lubricate it and make adjustments to the setting. Practise with domestic cats - they are usually willing to co-operate if a tasty bait is used. Practice is particularly important with manual traps in order to get the feel of the string or cord and to be sure that the door shuts firmly.
Feral cats behave like wild animals, and trapping them requires the skills of a hunter and great patience.
Ask the feeders to place the food always at the same place and at the same time of day, preferably at dawn or dusk. Cats are creatures of habit and learn quickly. If possible, put the trap there for a couple of days before trapping. Make sure it is on level ground and does not wobble.
Fix the door in the open position and put food inside, so that the cats get used to entering it. Then reduce the food ration the day before trapping, so that the cats are hungry. Do not leave the trap unattended if there is a risk of it being stolen
Trap the Cats
Set the trap(s) at feeding time, with a trail of their favourite food leading to the back of the plate, and wait. When trapped, the cat will thrash around but will become quieter if a cover or blanket is put over it. Move the trap away from the feeding site and leave it for a little while, until the cat has quietened down.
Transfer the cats
The transfer to the TTR must be done with care. Place the TTR firmly against the end of the trap, wedging it against a wall or tree to prevent movement. Then lift the slide-up doors of the TTR and the trap so that the cat can move from one to another. The mesh floor of the TTR may be covered with cardboard or newspaper to encourage the cat to move into it, and it may help to cover the TTR and uncover the trap.
Then put the TTR in the car, on newspaper and plastic sheeting, and go back to trap another cat. Label each TTR so that you can identify the cat, using a code that corresponds with the code in your notebook.
A cat trapped early in the morning can be given an anaesthetic safely later the same day. A cat trapped in the evening should be given an anaesthetic the next morning After surgery, the cat should be returned to a clean basket with some bedding and put in a quiet place until it is fully conscious. Check at intervals to make sure that the cat is in a comfortable position and there is no bleeding. It is a good idea to cover the baskets once the cats are conscious. If the basket is not the original TTR, make sure you can still identify the cat.
A male cat can often be taken back to its site and released the same day. It is usual to keep females in their baskets and release them the next day. Have food and water ready for them. When the basket is opened the cat will probably make a rapid exit without stopping to say "thank you".
Keep records
The record of which cat was trapped, when and where, and its subsequent history, is important. You need it for your own reports and statistics and to chart your successes, and you may also need to refer to it if there is a dispute over ownership.

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