Feral/Farm Colony - progress so far(74 Posts)
I wanted to start a diary about our efforts to control a colony of cats which has expanded beyond control on my reclusive brother's farm.
However, I thought perhaps, I would share the progress with others so that I could receive a little guidance and support as well.
There has always been a small group of cats on the farm. They were working cats and more accurately described as semi-feral.
However, my eldest son, who has autism, has grown very attached to the cats and he has tamed and fed many of them. My husband has also taken over the role of feeding the cats. As a result the colony has expanded to about 30 adult cats and numerous kittens.
I knew something had to be done so I contacted a local charity who capture, spay, re-home (often on other farms) and arrange treatment for cats.
The charity have alerted me to a 'feral cat grant' as well, so there will be help with the costs.
Yesterday, the first action took place.
The cats all have names. So Fluffy and Pusshell (two poorly cats) were the first to be captured. These two cats have long term illnesses and I think it is almost certain they will be PTS.
Next, Hilux and her four, one -week old kittens were captured and Frishy and her four, two-day old kittens were trapped. The mothers and kittens will be kept together in a foster home until the kittens are old enough to be adopted. The mothers will be spayed and either re-homed or returned.
A young ginger tom (Corncat) was also trapped and he will be neutered and either returned or rehomed.
My eldest son was present and I was very proud of him. He loves the cats, but he understands that some of them may have new homes (I have not spoken to him about the poorly cats yet).
It is going to be a long job, but at last a start has been made.
There are several more mother cats with litters of very young kittens and several toms. I do not envy anyone who has to handle the dominant tomcat.
I will keep updating this thread, but if anyone has experience of this type of 'project' and has any advice that may be helpful, I would be grateful to receive it.
I am also really thankful for the charity concerned.
I don't have any advice, but I am very interested in hearing the whole story so thanks for posting!
Are you planning on leaving any in situ? So could you spay and return everyone else and leave Thugcat to his own devices?
I have lots of experience of this. But I'm sure the charity you are dealing with does too. It's a pity something wasn't done sooner, but at least it's being done now.
As long as the charity use manual and not automatic traps then I'm sure they will manage to get them all. It's never necessary to handle any feral cats if you have the right equipment. The cat can be transferred from the trap to the crush cage without handling and, once in the crush cage, the 'crush' mechanism can be used to sedate the cat through the side of the cage without handling. It will then be kept i in a hospital basket until ready for release. Again this can be cleaned and the cat fed without the cat escaping or being able to attack the person doing it.
This sounds fantastic!
I love TNR (trap-neuter-release) programs. Although in this case, it sounds as if your son has largely tamed many of the cats, so rehoming is a definite possibility.
For anyone else who is reading this thread, as a PSA: totally feral adult cats usually cannot be rehomed as taming them is very difficult. This is why many areas have TNR programs. The idea is to humanely trap the cats, have them neutered to avoid excessive procreation, and then release them back to where they were found. This allows for the cats to be in an environment where they are happy, while still ensuring that overpopulation is avoided.
Do you know what may happen to the ones that are tame? They have never lived inside a house and 'freak out' if they accidentally get trapped in the farm house.
Is it realistic to think that the mother cats will return, spayed, to the farm, the tiny kittens will be adopted when they are old enough and the poorly cats will be PTS?
The tame ones will just need to readjust. They will need to go to understanding owners who will need to start them off initially in a pen inside their house. And they must have a cat flap. Nervous cats only become relaxed about being inside if they know they can always get out if they want to.
Yes, males and females that aren't homeable should be neutered and returned. And the kittens will need to go to fosterers to get tame enough for homing. Our rescue would only PTS if the illness is very severe and has no hope of recovery. Rescues will of course vary in the PTS policies.
I know of a number of riding stables who always have a couple of semi-feral mousers on site - always neutered of course, and usually the less wild ones from a TNR project like yours. My cousin used to have a farm & she always got her yard cats from this type of source; ones who would appreciate a warm straw filled barn or shed at night, but didn't want to be house cats (though some decided to retire to the house as they got older }
(Just interested, not judgemental, I can imagine how these things can get out of hand and action is being taken before it get worse.)
You mention the possibility of a feral cat grant - if this isn't forthcoming, are your family in the hot seat to pay personally, or does it fall to the charity?
Whitney - the charity always pays. Even when the people who called us in are the ones who caused the situation - by having an unneutered female - it's still the charity that picks up the tab - which will in the region of a few thousand pounds per colony.
I'd have assumed that, just sounded as if it was the OP who would need to apply for the grant.
Anyway, better now than another breeding season or two down the line and more to deal with. Hope it all goes well!
(Do appreciate the frustration of being at the charity end of it too, TCN.)
On the subject of paying - we might suggest the people make a donation, but we don't want to put people off contacting us so we often don't.
I remember my first ever TNR job. It was a colony in someone's back garden. They had an unneutered eight year old female pet cat. They didn't get homes for all the kittens - they ended up in the garden. Eight years later a huge colony. We spent many hours there and many thousands of pounds getting all the cats neutered, vaccinated, chipped and many had to have dentals and other treatments. This particular family lived in a large house. On the drive were three expensive, brand new cars, at least three of the adults worked. There were top of the range tvs, gold jewellery, granite worktops etc etc. So I suggested they could possibly donate to the cost (of the problem they created). They gave me £10.
Sometimes feral kittens can be tamed enough to be house pets. Adults are usually altered and then released back where they were found.
Our local animal shelter will sometimes adopt cats out as "Barn Buddies". These are usually cats who will not use the litterbox and it has been determined to be a behavioural issue rather than a medical one. They're adopted out as outdoor cats to be used as mousers in barns, shops, etc. There is still an expectation that food and water will be provided for them in an outdoor environment as they can't be expected to live on what they can catch. (Just an FYI - we do not have rats in my province so the cats would be limited to catching mice.)
Thank you for the information. I was told that I would have to apply for the grant. However, I may have been mistaken (everything happened in a bit of a rush).
I am really glad that something is starting to happen at last.
I am extremely impressed by the charity. I am hoping that my eldest son, who is fascinated by cats , will help them and there will be an ongoing donation.
The charity has e-mailed me a number for the Cats' Protection League to apply for, on behalf of my mother and brother (who own and live on the farm) for a feral neutering grant.
I will call them as soon as they are open tomorrow..
We have two stable cats which were adopted by us as kittens and feral. 9 months on and the boy can be stroked/picked up and the female demands fuss and bites if you stop stroking her
They would never be happy in a house but they have the run of a giant barn, loads of places to explore/sleep and 15 acres to roam. Mostly they nap in the straw bales or up in the loft and then hang about with the humans
Just a quick update.
Phoned the Cats' Protection Society and they are sending me some forms to fill in. My mother will have to sign them, but that is not a problem.
The two sick cats had to be PTS but the mother acts and little kittens are 'thriving' in their 'foster' home.
The charity are coming to do some more trapping tomorrow.
We have two cats, caught as 5 week old feral kittens in a TNR. They were hand reared by one of the volunteers until we got them at 13 weeks.
They are now 3 and as soft as butter! The female is extremely placid - the only time she has ever scratched us was when we were trying to catch her to take to the cattery! Otherwise she spends her life, lying on our chests or in our arms. The male spends all day, relaxing on our beds, and bounds up for a fuss every time we go up stairs! Both sleep with us all night!
Two of the most easygoing and affectionate cats, I have ever lived with!
The trapping went well yesterday. Two more mother cats and kittens were trapped. One set of kittens have cat flu, so they will be hand reared. A friendly young tomcat was also captured and, if he is healthy, there should be no problem re-homing them.
A sample of the cats will be tested for FelV. If they are positive, then all the cats will be tested. However, this is not the death sentence that it used to be.
I am going down on Saturday to help with the trapping.
My eldest son is autistic and very attached to the cats. He wants to come too, but I am frightened he will be disturbed by the cat's initial distress when they are trapped. I think I will have to play this by ear.
I'm glad it's going well. What charity is it?
The charity is called the 'Band of Rescuers'. I think they may be local to our area.
I will have to take the forms for the feral cat grant to my mother to sign (as landowner) and sort the vet prices out.
It is going well. I am very impressed.
I have tried to attach some images. The first photo is of the young, mother cat (she is 11 months old) with her kittens in her foster home. This is her first litter and she had the kittens in a hedge on the ground. The second image is of an experienced mother cat (nearly 4 years old). She had her kittens in a dis-used pig sty and moved them to another outbuilding when she found out we knew where they were.
The black and white cat is the dominant male. He is three years old and, according to my brother, he can climb to the top of the Dutch barns to hunt pigeons in their nests.
The B&W one does look full of himself! Sounds like he is useful to keep as pest control once he's been neutered. They are beautiful cats which should help the rehoming process for those which can be.
Keep us posted.
thecatneuterer that sounds about right for such a wealthy family to donate so little. I heard of a recent CP snip and chip campaign for £10 and apparently some well off people turned up for that too. Tight is a polite word that springs to mind....
The B&W one does look full of himself!
Little knowing what's about to hit him...
It's amazing how quickly the cat situation gets out of control. It makes interesting reading. I suppose it's quite satisfying if a trapping operation goes well, even if there is initial frustration at it being necessary.
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