Step by Step: Recovering a Feral Cat
For people with feral colonies in their communities, trying to get a handle on the problem when resources are so stretched in our city can be truly overwhelming. With anywhere from 100,000-300,000 feral cats in Toronto, rescue groups such as Toronto Cat Rescue are at capacity not only in our adoption program, but in all other areas of our work. Our trappers, drivers, and recovery homes are working on countless feral colony projects and we rarely can take on more, however we want to work with communities to empower individuals to learn how to get feral cat populations under control. Whenever we can help with the physical work we will, however most often our resources are stretched – but that doesn’t mean we can’t provide guidance, advise and support to get your colony project started.
For more information on how to start a TNR(M) (Trap-Neuter-Return-Monitor) project, please call our hotline 416-538-8592, option 3 – our “Help for Cats” line. A volunteer will pick up your message and work you through your kitty “case”. These instructions are designed only to help with the basics of recovery – if you have no experience with feral cats, we recommend seeking further advice or attending a workshop.
TNR(M) is a proven effective program which tackles overpopulation at its core. Feral cats cannot be socialized as adults to become domestic indoor cats, despite being exactly the same physically as your pampered pet. They are unsocialized and handling them is therefore equivalent to dealing with a wild animal. We can’t stress enough how many people make the mistake of underestimating what a feral cat is. Despite their nature these cats deserve to live their lives and euthanizing them is not only inhumane, but it is also ineffective at ending the problem in the long-term. Spaying/neutering and returning these cats to their stomping grounds allows them to enjoy their lives in peace, while ensuring no more kittens are born into this hard existence.
Many people who take on a TNR project forget to plan from start to finish. Trapping the cats and getting them to a spay/neuter clinic is only half the work. These cats also need to be recovered post-surgery before being returned to their colonies. Recovery time ranges depending on factors such as the cat’s stress level, their health, and the weather – however a general rule is that males need to be recovered for 3-4 days, and females for 5-7 days.
Some traps are built to be used as recovery cages, complete with divider panels for cleaning litter and replenishing food/water. This is the easiest way to recover a cat, however if you do not have access to a trap such as this one, the following attachment is a guide for recovering in a traditional dog crate set-up: Step by Step Feral Recovery Guide.
TCR would like to thank those of you that have, or will be making a commitment to help end cat overpopulation. Recovering feral cats is a short-term and easy way to make a big difference. If you want to help TCR by becoming a recovery home, please fill out our Volunteer Form today!