Posted by: secondchancehumanesociety | December 11, 2006

Feral Cat Program

In conclusion of the two-part series on feral cats and in honor of National Feral Cat Day on Monday, October 16th, this weeks pet column will highlight the Second Chance Humane Society Feral Cat Program.  This program promotes and administers the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) approach, proven to be the single most successful method of stabilizing and maintaining healthy feral cat colonies at the least possible cost while providing the best life for the animals themselves.

 The TNR approach (which involves spaying/neutering, testing, vaccinating, and returning feral cats to their original habitat) is far more effective and less costly than repeated attempts at extermination.  Promoting stable, non-breeding colonies in the same location, rather than attempting to kill or transfer them elsewhere ultimately reduces feral cat populations as the altered feral cats prevent additional feral cats from moving in and starting the breeding cycle again. 

 To further the appeal of TNR programs, they virtually eliminate nuisance behaviors associated with breeding cats, such as the yowling of females or the spraying and fighting of toms.  Furthermore, through the testing and vaccinating involved in the TNR programs, disease and malnutrition are greatly reduced and the cats live healthy, safe, and peaceful lives in their territories.  

 The SCHS Feral Cat Program has been quite effective in reducing feral cat populations within many areas of San Miguel and Ouray Counties and we hope to expand our services even further in 2007.  The program also operates through educating the community on important aspects of feral cat overpopulation prevention.  Thus, if you do have a feral cat or colony in your neighborhood please call the SCHS Animal Hotline (626-2273) and discuss the various options for getting the animal(s) treated.

 The Hotline can provide answers to questions that are case specific and thus hard to determine the best course of action without assistance.  For example, we regularly receive questions concerning feral cats that have recently delivered kittens.   The best course of action depends on the age of the kittens and thus we urge anyone to call the Hotline prior to any form of intervention.  The basic guidelines below describe the sensitive and varying factors involved in these situations:


  • Don’t trap a mother who is nursing her kittens unless you can catch the kittens, too. Tiny kittens cannot survive away from their mothers for long.
  • If the kittens are newly weaned (usually four to six weeks), ask if your veterinarian can perform surgery and return the mother within 48 hours. Even though eating solid food, very young kittens are unlikely to survive without their mother for body heat and protection. (If your vet cannot meet this time frame, wait until the kittens are older to trap the queen.)
  • Try to trap the kittens no later than eight to ten weeks of age. The sooner they have human contact, the easier it will be to socialize them.
  • At twelve weeks and older, kittens can be sterilized, vaccinated, and returned to the location where they were living outside.

 SCHS also requests that anyone with a barn or outdoor cat please review last week’s pet column that discussed the difference between feral and barn cats (available at  Although it is equally important to make sure barn cats are spayed and neutered, the process differs from that of feral cats.

 In closing, this weeks featured pet is Amber, a young female orange and white tabby of about 4 months of age.  She was brought in with siblings and, like the featured kittens of last week, she had been mistaken as a skittish stray by the folks that brought her in.  Without knowing the area of her original habitat it was not feasible to release her after her spay and vaccinations.  Although, due to her young age, she is fast becoming socialized and enjoys receiving affection, she is not prepared to be a full-time and outgoing house pet.  Thus, she is looking for a nice barn where she (and hopefully a sibling too) can live contently and safely.  You can view her and our other shelter pets and programs online at: or come down and see them at the shelter.

 Pet Questions for next week’s column can be sent to: or to Pet Column, c/o Second Chance Humane Society, PO Box 2096, Ridgway, CO   SCHS offers animal humane services to San Miguel and Ouray Counties.  Contact Kelly at 626-2273 x4 for more information on volunteer and community education programs.  For info about adopting, reporting a lost pet, the SCHS Spay/Neuter Financial Assistance & Rebate Programs, or other pet questions, call the SCHS Animal Hotline at 626-2273 x1.


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