Last 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!