Over three years, one cat can be
responsible for the birth of 500
Thinking of letting your cat have kittens? Please think again.
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What's the problem?
Even with the high mortality rates in feral cats, if we leave things as they are, we'll have more cats over time. Feral cats are opportunistic feeders and tend to congregate where significant garbage collects or populations of rodents thrive.
Approximately 85 per cent of cats in a feral colony are not spayed or neutered, and at any given time, approximately 50 per cent of the females will be pregnant. Even with 50 per cent of kittens dying before they're eight weeks old and young mothers often dying from pregnancy complications and poor nutrition, feral cat colonies will continue to grow. And without adequate care, inbred cats become an increasingly unhealthy population.
What's the solution?
Using a proven and humane method to manage and reduce the feral cat population, we are working hard to improve the situation through our spay/neuter/adoption program.
We have a group of approximately 12 committed volunteers and have gathered information from other groups that manage and reduce feral
cat populations in Courtenay, Gibsons and Duncan.
We will follow this step-by-step program:
1) Conduct an inventory of cat colonies (locations, number, gender and age of cats).
2) Set up feeding stations (and shelter where appropriate) in each colony's territory to ready for trapping and spay/neutering.
3) Train volunteers safe and effective methods for trapping and transporting feral cats.
4) Apply for funding to assist with purchase of traps, transport and vet bills - and public education (advertising, pamphlets, etc.)
5) Arrange with local veterinarians to coordinate spays and neuters.
6) We'll train volunteers to tame kittens in foster homes so they can be adopted as family pets.
7) We'll maintain a communications program to educate people in our community about our efforts - emphasizing the importance of
spaying and neutering pets and NOT dumping cats and kittens.
Why a trap/neuter/return program?
Efforts to manage feral cat populations indicate, where feral cat populations are spayed/neutered and managed (fed and sheltered), the population remains healthy and decreases over time due to natural attrition.
A feral cat in an unmanaged colony has a half-starved, two to three-year life span, whereas feral cats in a managed colony can live 10 to 12 years. And in a managed colony, any new cats that move in are easier to spot at monitored feeding stations and appropriate steps can be taken.
Most lethal cat diseases are passed through close contact, such as during fighting and mating and this behaviour is eliminated by spaying and
neutering so the colony stays healthier. (Toms, particularly with fighting, can develop abscesses and die truly horribly, long, slow deaths. Females can have up to three litters a year and often
suffer and die from pregnancy complications and poor nutrition.)
Why feed the cats?
Cats are fed so we can monitor the population for kittens and newcomers - who'll be trapped and transported to the vet as a member of the colony.
Where feral cats are providing useful rodent management, people should be aware that fed cats will continue to hunt.
What's involved in trapping?
Live traps are set at dusk, at the feeding station. Food is withheld at the feeding station 24 hours prior to trapping. A small amount of bait (rich-smelling food like sardines or wet cat food) and water are placed at the end of the trap farthest from the door. Fasting overnight is best for a cat going into surgery, thus the small amount of bait used. Newspaper is placed over the bottom of the trap. The trap door is placed in the open position. When the cat enters the trap to reach the food, its feet trigger the door release and the trap closes.
The closing trap can startle the cat, which will typically jump in the trap and try to escape. A trapping monitor places a blanket or sheet over the trap to calm the cat. The trap is moved to a warm, dry, quiet place, and the cat is left in peace (the blanket is not lifted or removed and the cat is NEVER touched) to await transport to the vet first thing the next morning.
For the success of the program, trap doors are NEVER to be opened before the cat is at the vet's. People can be scratched trying to handle feral cats, and a cat that escapes a trap will typically not venture into one again.
With every spring,we expect a busy season at each colony, especially to trap and fix, and potentially tame new kittens to keep them from
Why return the feral cats to their colonies?
Some cats might be candidates as pets. We will work to coordinate a group of foster homes to host any stray cats that were once house pets or young kittens that can be tamed and eventually adopted.
Once they're older than eight weeks, feral cats usually cannot be successfully tamed. In some cases, semi-feral cats will adapt to being barn cats, and our initial inventory will include a search for people who would be suitable hosts for a healthy, fixed semi-feral cat.
Cats are very territorial, and fixed cats that cannot be placed elsewhere will return to their colony area, where there's a space for them. In this location, they will prevent unfixed strays from moving in until a space is opened up through the death of a resident cat in the colony.
Are feral cats dangerous?
These cats are wild, and even kittens will scratch if scared or cornered. And cat scratches, even from a house cat, are something to avoid. People should use gloves and caution when approaching an area where a feral cat might be hiding or cornered. Trapped cats should be removed from the trap only by the veterinarian.
Why not trap and euthanize?
If feral cats are trapped and euthanized, other feral cats will move in to fill the vacant niche. A management and public education is the only humane and proven method for reducing feral cat populations over time.
What are the requirements for foster homes?
Foster homes must offer a dry, warm, quiet, safe, indoor space for kittens/strays. The foster home will have a full understanding of sanitation requirements and a proven ability to socialize kittens and rehabilitate fearful strays. Fostered animals must remain indoors at all times. The cats and kittens will not be handled by children. They will not come into contact with other household pets until they have passed a health screening by a veterinarian - and then introduced only in cases where hosting pets welcome newcomers. We will need some foster homes with experience in bottle feeding and caring for very young kittens. Foster homes will communicate any change in the status of their kittens and strays with the foster home coordinator.
How will we track our success?
A program coordinator will maintain a record of feral cat colony population inventory (numbers, gender, approximate age), successful trapping, trips to the vet, kittens tamed and numbers adopted. We'll also keep a record of all kinds of community assistance, and we'll monitor expenses and fundraising success. Of course, we'll also communicate our progress with the community.
What's the value of a public education program?
We have feral cats because of people abandoning or dumping unwanted cats and kittens. A combination of our proposed feral cat colony management and an education program to encourage community commitment to spaying and neutering pets and turning unwanted cats and kittens over to the SPCA is the most humane and effective long-term solution to reduce feral cats and strays. Public education also builds support for the program and adoption of cats that are suitable to be placed in a domestic situation (barns or homes).
How can You help?
Volunteer to be part of our efforts, or let us know if you can adopt a healthy friendly, fixed kitten or cat. We sometimes have semi-feral cats available for adoption who can adapt well in barns and make wonderful mousers. (When turning a semi-feral cat into a "barn cat", the cat must be enclosed for at least two weeks to get comfortable and feel it belongs in its new location. Cats let out sooner tend to run away and not return.)
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Foster Homes Needed!
Quadra Cat Rescue does not support the practice of declawing of cats. We have been asked by AdoptMe Canada to post a link to their anti-declawing campaign where a petition can be signed. Please click here to view it.
Quadra Cat Rescue
P.O. Box 192
Heriot Bay, BC