Kitty Watch: Our First Attempt to Trap a Feral Kitten

ImageLast night we trapped our first feral kitten and felt empowered. We’ve been eyeballing a litter of kittens across our fence for months now, feeling powerless to catch them with their quick, wild ways. 3 scratches and 10 hours later, this kitten (I’ll name her Sweet Pea) scurried back to her kitten family, under the dark abandoned home across from us.

Eager to do something to stop the overpopulation of feral cats in our neighborhood, we agreed to try the whole trap and release process. We don’t like the idea of cats breeding more cats and eventually getting run over, spreading disease, or taken to overburdened animal shelters. So we consulted a few friends and found out about the Austin Humane Society (AHS) (right in our neighborhood!) Feral Cat Program where they lend you a cat trap (pictured above) to bait a cat into the cage, so that you take them back to AHS to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated for free! You don’t have to pay for the trap unless you don’t return it, in which case they’ll charge your credit card.

It was fairly easy to trap Sweet Pea. We lined the trap with cardboard, put in some stinky wet cat food and strategically placed it by where the kittens come out. About 2 hours later, we had a kitten.  This relatively easy process involves being on “kitty watch” for a few hours, and housing the cat overnight so that you can wake up early to take them to the AHS (their intake hours are from 7-8:30am every Wednesday and Thursday). It feels like an act of service where the reward is less cats.

The kittens have to weigh at least 3 pounds to be spayed/neutered. Sweet Pea didn’t weigh enough so we had to take her back home. I entertained the idea, briefly, that we could “tame” her in our garage, but Miranda was pretty firm that we could not care for another animal, especially a feral one. Before the release I thought I’d hold her for a bit. In less than a minute, she jumped out of my hand, ran out the garage into the misty yard, leaving a few scratches for me to wash and disinfect. We’ll try trapping her again when she’s older. I hope we can be of help in the near future!

Special thanks to Sandy for telling me about the Austin Humane Society feral cat program! Check out Sandy’s 2012 awesome photography piece for an inside look at cat trapping, neutering, and release!

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5 Comments on “Kitty Watch: Our First Attempt to Trap a Feral Kitten”

  1. Marianimal says:

    Big kudos to you! I am in NW Austin and I have been TNRing ferals in my neighborhood for two years now. I’ve grown quite attached to two of them and managed to tame them as well. I hope you will stick with it. It’s a wonderful program! Thank you for spreading the word about how good it feels to give a cat a better quality of life!

  2. Courtney Livingston says:

    You all are awesome for doing this!! Please don’t ever stop and they all need to be fixed. They aren’t too difficult to tame if you ever change your mind… all they need is attention, a bottle and LOVE and a soft blanket. I’m doing it now with a feral 4 week old kitten from down the street. I also work with a group that feeds and TNR at Lakeline Mall. We have five feeding stations and feed daily so they will have the best short little life as possible.

  3. Emily Miller says:

    If you ever happen upon newborns, they can be tamed. We tamed 3 last spring and got mama cat spayed and released. We still see her around outside. One of my best friends adopted the runt kitten. Violet is now a little over a year old and is a playful petite 7-pound cat living it up on the east side.

  4. mollyjade says:

    Don’t tell Miranda I said this (stop reading, Miranda!), but I bet that kitten’s not too old to be “tamed.” My cat Millie was about that size when we caught her outside my husband’s work. She hid from us (in the toilet!) for the first few days, but now she lets us pick her up and sleeps cuddled up with me every night.

    That said, we can’t take in every animal in the world. TNR is really fantastic.

  5. Sarah says:

    Good for you, and keep trying! My husband and I started TNR-ing our little feral community in San Marcos last summer (including one tiny kitten we kept for a month before placing with a friend. He’s now a happy, giant, maine coon housecat). There were some bumps along the way but we’ve got the whole group spayed and neutered and they’re as happy as can be, so keep it up! And I agree with the others, if you do it right you could totally tame those kittens 🙂


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