Trap, Neuter, Return

Have you got what it takes to help feral cats in Northampton and the surrounding area?

Cats Protection’s Northampton branch is on the prowl for volunteers who can help give feral cats a better life by taking part in its “Trap, Neuter, Return” programme.

The charity runs the scheme to keep numbers of feral cats under control and to give them a healthier, happier life. In order to carry on this vital work, volunteers are needed to help with hands-on work.

Our coordinator, Sarah said: “Our volunteers need to be incredibly patient as feral cats can be very timid and difficult to trap. It is also vitally important we act as swiftly and calmly as possible to minimise stress to the cats.

“The work can be physically demanding, in all weathers and is hard work. However, the reward is seeing happy, healthy feral cats returned to the wild where they can provide a vital pest control service to landowners.”

Feral cats are those born into the wild and, when aged over 10-12 weeks, are unable to be tamed. Although they can never become pets, ferals are valued by many farmers and smallholders for providing effective, economical and organic rodent control.

However, the charity says that cats are prolific breeders and a colony of feral cats can quickly multiply and become a problem. One female cat can have as many as 18 kittens a year.

Dedicated volunteers from the charity set up humane traps – similar to cages – where they capture feral cats of 12 weeks or older. This is mainly done during the evening or night and the traps are collected quickly to minimise stress to the cat.

The trapped cats are then taken swiftly to a veterinary surgery to be neutered, a straightforward procedure which will prevent the cat from breeding.

Dissolvable stitches are used to avoid the need to hospitalise the cat for a lengthy period, or catch the cat again for stitch removal. In most cases, the charity aims to return the cats back to their own colony quickly. In the case of female cats (where the operation is slightly more complex), this will be within 24-48 hours of neutering, and with males it is hoped to release them within 12-24 hours, to allow the cats to integrate quickly back into the environment in which they feel safe.

“Whilst the programme is incredibly successful in keeping feral numbers under control, the benefits of it do not stop there,” said Sarah. “Neutering actually makes cats – both domestic and feral – healthier and happier because neutered cats are much less likely to fight, which can spread serious illnesses such as FeLV and FIV. Cats who have been neutered are also much less likely to roam or spray.”

Cats Protection is always on the lookout for volunteers who would like to help with the “Trap, Neuter, Return” process. Full training and lots of support will be given, and both the cat care and people skills gained will be invaluable in other walks of life. Please email enquiries@northampton.cats.org.uk or call 0344 700 3251 for more information. Remember to leave your name, contact number, email address and an explanation of which volunteering opportunity you are interested in.