Ferals

Ferals and our community

Sav-R-Cats needs volunteers to work with the hundreds of feral, abandoned, or lost cats roaming the roads, streets and vacant lands of Horry County. SRC uses a trap-neuter-return program to try and help control the feline population. Volunteers will be asked to assist in working in the SRC offices, colony control, as community caretakers, trapping cats, working at the adoption centers or shelters, assist veterinarians or on fund raising committees. Anyone interested in volunteering please call John Bonsignor (843) 385-3963 or (843) 839-6902.

What is TNR?

TNR, or trap-neuter-return is the humane practice of trapping feral cats who cannot be domesticated and brought inside as pets, spaying or neutering them and returning them to their original colony. A female cat can get pregnant she is less than half a year old and will continue having litters of kittens until she is fixed.

Just want the cats gone!

We have been continually faced with the concern of circumstances in which property owners “just want the cats gone”. Consequently, this leaves the cats with no place to go. While having the cats gone might seem convenient for everyone, it is a shortsighted and unrealistic solution for several reasons. The vacuum effect wasn’t just pulled from thin air; it is a very real and powerful phenomenon. When cats are removed from any location, whether they are relocated or eradicated, new cats soon move in to take over the vacated area and available food source (garbage, rodents, insects, etc.). In just a few months two intact cats can repopulate the area. The new cats are healthier, more adapt, and unsterilized. An article expanded on Sarah Hartwell’s 1994 article, “Why Feral Eradication Won’t Work”, reviews various eradication methods and attempts indicate the failure of such attempts and prove them to be inadequate in keeping an area free of free-roaming felines.

Colonies

Relocating a cat colony is burdensome for both the caretakers and the cats. Ideal areas in which to move the cats are few and far between. Proper relocation requires some vital period of confinement, in order to keep the cats from traveling back to the original site. Feral cats become very attached to their colony site so they will likely experience some separation anxiety. Various measures can be taken to ensure that the cats do not create a nuisance on a given property. Sterilization alone eliminates most nuisance behaviors such as territorial fighting, and marking. Unobtrusive feeding stations can be devised so as to not inconvenience anyone by being an eyesore of sorts. Many people become anxious at the sight of several cats feeding in one area. Also, feeding stations and shelters should be moved as far away from human activity (parking lots, sidewalks, roadways) as possible. Limited interaction with the cats during feedings will ensure that they remain elusive and untrusting of all humans, therefore keeping their distance from human activity.

The main point is that removing the cats is a temporary solution that will appease the property owner only for a few months before the problem reappears. A stabilized cat colony on the property site will deter other new cats from moving into the area. Still, newcomers may appear and do so usually, in increments of one or two at a time. These newcomers should be trapped immediately and vetted, as they are typically hungry and may be oblivious to consequence of the trap. Alley Cat Allies has published many helpful resources to educate and deal with complaining neighbors and property owners regarding feral cat colonies. Educating these groups about feral cats and colony management may make the difference in allowing cats to stay.

Barn Cats Available

Barn Cats available, ideal residents for stables or barns. Healthy, sterilized cats need barn homes. These cats are feral and need a home at a farm, horse stable, or other suitable outdoor environment with shelter.

Caretaker responsibilities include providing daily food water, protection from the elements and long term veterinary care. Be prepared for a brief period of adjustment. Moving to a new home is stressful for anyone, cats included! After a short stay in secure confinement, the cats will accept their new home and be chasing mice, lizards, and palmetto bugs out of your grain, barns and homes.

After cat is spayed or neutered

When a cat is sterilized, it is given a long-acting injection of anesthesia. Many cats will only be partially recovered from the anesthesia at the time of discharge. Full recovery takes about 24 hours. Here are some recommended procedures to follow 24 hours following discharge.

  1. Keep the cat in the trap until the next morning. This provides protection and security.
  2. The cat may be groggy and needs to sleep overnight.
  3. Don’t disturb the cat by reaching into the trap. Cats often overreact and may bite.
  4. Do not give food or water in the trap. They can spill the water and may vomit if fed.
  5. Give them food and water the following day, when they are fully awake.
  6. Keep cats in a comfortable area until the next day. They are susceptible to heat and cold.
  7. Normal behavior that occurs during recovery includes: deep sleep, head bobbing, wobbly movements, fast breathing and shivering.
  8. Abnormal behavior includes: excessive bleeding from the surgery or bleeding from the ear tip. The bleeding should stop by the time of release.
  9. If the cat is not fully awake or is still bleeding call the veterinarian who performed the operation.
  10. If the cat is fully awake the next day, release the cat to its environment.

Hospital Ferals – Topic of Study

In a 1993 issue, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association published a study by Zaunbrecher, DVM & Smith, DVM, MPH, concerning the best way to deal with a colony of cats at the Gillis W. Long Hansen’s Disease Center (a federal research facility and hospital) in Carville, L.A.

Their study revealed several advantages of Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) over eradication programs. Eradication is only a temporary fix, in that “removing the cats from an established colony increases the population turnover, but doesn’t decrease the number of cats in in the colony” (p.449). Also, new cats that move in to fill the void are likely to introduce disease and worsen nuisance behaviors. TNR of these cats proved to be humane, economical, and socially acceptable. Plus, it stabilized the colony into a healthy and quiet group in which low turnover was observed.

The colony at this hospital facility is cared for and enjoyed by both patients and staff, who also assisted in stabilizing the colony. Although this is an older study, it still applies and has been replicated worldwide many times.