The Feral Cat Project

Because we buy a lot of food at Mud Bay we have gotten to know one of the clerks, Jon. He asked if we knew anything about trapping feral cats as there is a colony behind Mud Bay.

There are an incredible number of people working to help feral cats in this city. This is good because there are an incredible number of feral cats. I always knew there were some, but did not appreciate how many until I started to work with feral cats.

I knew that Deb, our Seattle Animal Shelter foster case manager, worked with ferals so I ask her. The problem with feral cats is that their life is difficult and they breed more feral cats. The consensus solution is to trap, neuter, and release (TNR). Most of these cats will not be happy living indoors or with people. Since there are already many healthy, friendly cats who do need a home it is not worth putting the effort into cats who don’t want to be a companion. Releasing them back allows them to live out their life in the environment they are familiar with. Neutering them prevents them from brining more cats into that life.

The Mud Bay Colony

Jon described about 5 cats that lived behind Mud Bay. A mostly tame pregnant female he was able find a home for. We decided to trap, neuter, and release the remaining cats. We gathered supplies, many lent to us by Deb, set a clinic date and placed several unarmed traps with food to encourage the ferals to go inside the traps to eat.The Sunday before we were to take them to the clinic, we armed the traps. Early afternoon Jon calls – we have a cat. It’s the friendly little grey cat, a medium hair tabby. He’s not tame but will approach closer than any of the other cats. Jon names him Fluff E Face. We take the trap back to our garage and successfully transfer him into a carrier.

A couple hours later we get another cat, twin to Fluff E, who we name “Little T”.

The Clinic

The Puget Sound area is served by the Feral Cat Spay and Neuter Clinic in Lynwood. They run free clinics, 3 to 4 times a week, with up to 50 cats per clinic. Because they are such high volume and low cost there are specific procedures we must follow, such as bringing a clean towel for each cat. The clinic takes some reservations which fill up one to two weeks in advance. They also allow up to 10 drop in cats. Most trappers I’ve talked to use the drop in and just show up early. The clinic opens promptly at 7 am and we are there at 6:30 am to make sure we get a spot.

Releasing

Little T is clearly not happy being in the cage so we release him one day after surgery. He shoots out of the cage, under a fence, and is gone.

Fluff E’s status is less clear. We end up holding him for a week to evaluate his socialization potential but in the end can find no one with the dedicated space and time to take on this task and back to the briar patch he goes. We have seen him several times since then, hanging around the traps. Unfortunately, he seems to be a likely candidate for re-trapping.

I am used to seeing cats as companion animals, not as wild animals. But that is what these feral cats are: wild animals. They are dirty, scared, and agressive.

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