Feral Cats and Trapping (TNR)
At the Cornwall Adoption Centre we sometimes find ourselves being called upon to deal with colonies of feral cats. We help to trap, neutering and return (TNR) the cats to their location to control the growth of the population. In very rare instances cats may be relocated to a new area but this should generally be avoided. Relocation of feral cats can be stressful for them and can lead to the 'vacuum effect' as other cats will move in from surrounding areas.
Feral cats are the same domesticated species of cat as our pet cats but are not socialised at a young age to humans or the domestic environment. They essentially behave like wild animals and have completely different needs to our companion cats. Adult feral cats cannot be tamed and this should never be attempted as they are very fearful of people and this would seriously compromise their welfare. However they should not be confused with stray cats which have be raised as pets but have since been lost or abandoned. Although stray cats can be scared of people, with a little TLC they can go on to live life as a pet again. Sometimes feral kittens that have been handled and socialised well at a young enough age can adapt to life in the home and would also not be considered as feral.
Humane traps, similar to cages, are used in order to capture the cats in a manner that reduces stress and is both safe for the animal and person operating the equipment. Usually after a few days of acclimatising the cat to a trap by feeding inside without setting it, most cats will be confident enough to be captured. Feral cats do not enjoy being confined in our care so we reduce their time with us by pre-planning a trip to the vets for neutering and blood testing. At the same time they will also have their ear 'tipped' where between half and one centimetre of the tip of the left ear is removed under anaesthetic. This serves as a permanent visual mark to show a cat has been neutered. If all has gone to plan and they are fit and healthy, they should be returned to their home after a short recovery time. In the cases where this is not possible they are relocated to a suitable location.
A relocated cat will spend 2 weeks confined in a large dog crate setup with its litter tray, food, water and something to hide in. This resets a cat's homing instinct but also establishes a feeding routine in an attempt to convince them to stick around. If you think your stables, farm or small holding could do with some organic pest control, please contact us to see if an outdoor cat may be the answer. All we ask is that they are provided with a food and water source and also a place to shelter from the lovely Cornish weather! Contrary to popular belief, regularly fed feral cats may be better, more patient hunters than hungry ones.