napa humane

Feral Cat Information and Resources

What is a Feral Cat?

Although there is no precise definition of a feral cat, many times they are abandoned house cats that have become much too antisocial to be kept as a pet in a typical home. Often, they are born in the wild, and are afraid of people due to lack of human contact. They usually live in colonies near any food source that they can find: in neighborhoods, alleyways, apartment complexes, behind restaurants, on college/hospital campuses, and many other like places.  With no one to care for these cats, females spend most of their lives pregnant, resulting in feral cat overpopulation.

If you are here it is likely that you are aware of a feral cat situation and want to know how to handle it.  Navigating the many organizations and the networks of concerned citizens who contribute to managing feral cats can be confusing at first.  Each group or individual may be an important link to help you.  Our hope is that this information will help “connect the dots” for you for you to help the cats.

Reducing pet overpopulation is one Napa Humane’s main goals, believing that spay/neuter is the answer to decreasing the number of un-owned and unwanted animals in our communities and help end the suffering that such animal face.  There is an alarming number of feral cats colonies in our area and it takes concerned citizens, such as you, to manage these colonies.  We applaud your efforts in helping to decrease the numbers by making the decision to have one or more feral cat(s) spayed/neutered and returned to his/her original location.  We want to be your partners in this all-important quest and hope that this information guides you along the way.

Feral Cat Resources in Napa County

Generally, people who want to help manage feral cats in their neighborhood do one of two things:

  1. Trap, spay/neuter, vaccinate, and return to the neighborhood.  Some expand their role and become caretakers by providing food to and monitoring the health of colony.  This is the best way to handle a feral cat problem.
  2. Trap, surrender to the Napa County Animal Shelter.  Please note that the removal of a feral cat from his environment will most likely lead to another cat moving into his place. 

An unmanaged colony will result in an abundance of kitten births.  When a person decides to take responsibility of a colony, they will often take in kittens born to feral cats and either foster them until homes can be found or transfer the kitten to organizations that can foster them. 

Organizations that may be able to help:

Napa Humane Spay/Neuter Clinic
3265 California Boulevard, Napa

  • Low-cost spay/neuter, vaccinations, and microchipping
  • “Feral/Community Cat Program”

Whiskers, Tails & Ferals
1370 Trancas Street, #206, Napa (mailing address only)

  • Financial assistance for spay/neuter
  • Assist with adoption placement for fostered kittens

We Care Animal Rescue and Refuge
1345 Charter Oak, St. Helena

  • Space permitting,takes in unwanted animals
  • Financial assistance for spay/neuter
  • Housing options for FIV positive cats

 Napa County Animal Shelter
942 Hartle Court, Napa

  • Rents humane traps
  • Accepts feral cats, able to re-home some in partnership with We Care Animal Rescue and Refuge
  • Accepts feral kittens

Napa County Animal Services
1535 Airport Boulevard, Napa

  • Respond to complaints of stray, sick or injured animals
  • Responsible for rabies control
  • Investigations of animal cruelty complaints and animal bite cases

County Trapper
Agricultural Commissioner
1710 Soscol Ave, Suite 3, Napa

  • Assistance with wildlife caught in humane traps

Humane traps may be purchased at Wilson’s Feed & Supply in Napa, Harbor Freight Tools in Vallejo, or purchased online at

Napa Humane Feral Cat Program

We understand that it can take days, sometimes weeks, to trap a feral cat therefore making scheduling an appointment in advance very difficult.  Napa Humane has made it possible to accommodate Napa County feral cat spay/neuter without having an appointment.  If you have a feral cat in a trap, you may bring him/her to the Clinic on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (with the exception of holidays).  We will do our best to fit the cat into that surgery day, but, at times, we may need to hold the cat overnight and place him/her onto the next surgery day.  If that is the case, we transfer the cat into a cage with food, water, and a litter box until surgery.  For the best chance of having the cat spayed/neutered on the same day, it is best to bring the cat to the Clinic between 7:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.

Cats are vaccinated for Rabies and FVRCP, are spayed/neutered, treated for fleas and ticks with Frontline Plus® and are eartipped.  Cats under the age of 3 months do not receive a rabies vaccine.  We provide these services for $35 per cat for Napa County residents.  

Cats going home after surgery must be picked up between 3:00 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. on the day of their surgery.  Once home, follow the post-surgery guidelines.

Again, we applaud your efforts in reducing the number of unwanted and unowned animals in the Napa Valley.

Post-Surgery Instructions for Feral Cats

After surgery, allow the cat to recover overnight in the trap or hard-sided carrier. Keep the cat indoors in its trap or carrier and make sure he/she is dry, in a temperature-controlled environment, and away from loud noises or dangers such as toxic fumes, other animals, or people. When the cat is recovering from anesthesia he/she is unable to regulate their body temperature. It is important that the recovery location is temperature-controlled to keep the cat from getting too hot or too cold.

Monitor the cat. Check the cat often for his/her progress; keep an eye out for bleeding and illness. If a cat is vomiting, bleeding, having difficulty breathing, or not waking up, get veterinary assistance immediately.

 Hold the cat until he/she recovers.  At a minimum, a cat needs to be held until the morning after surgery, depending on recovery speed. A cat should only be returned to the trapping site once they are fully awake and do not require further medical attention. In some cases, females may need 48 hours of recovery, depending on their specific circumstances. You may return nursing mothers as soon as possible, once they completely regain consciousness so they can get back to their kittens. Make sure the cat is fully conscious, clear-eyed, and alert before release.

Return the cat. Release the cat in the same place you trapped him/her. Do not be concerned if the cat hesitates a few moments before leaving the crate. He/she is simply reorienting himself/herself to her surroundings. It is not uncommon for a cat to “disappear” for a few days after he/he is returned – he/she will appear eventually. Resume the feeding schedule and continue to provide food and water – he/she may eat when you are not around.

Thoroughly clean the trap and carrier with a nontoxic disinfectant when the return is complete. Whether the traps are borrowed or your own, they should be cleaned before they are stored. Then they will be ready for the next trapping adventure. Even traps that appear clean must be disinfected—the scent of the cat previously trapped may deter other cats from entering.

 Adapted from Alley Cat Allies. All rights reserved.


Eartipping is an effective and universally accepted method to identify a spayed or neutered and vaccinated feral cat. It is the removal of the distal one-quarter of a cat’s left ear, which is approximately 3/8 inch, or 1 cm, in an adult and proportionally smaller in a kitten.

This procedure is performed under sterile conditions while the cat is already anesthetized for spay/ neuter surgery. There is little or no bleeding, it is relatively painless to the cat, and the eartip does not significantly alter the appearance or beauty of the cat.

Eartipping is the preferred method to identify spayed or neutered and vaccinated feral cats, because it is difficult to get close to feral cats, and therefore the identification must be visible from a distance. Feral cats may interact with a variety of caregivers, veterinarians, and animal control personnel during their lives and so immediate visual identification is necessary to prevent an unnecessary second trapping and surgery.

No other method of identification has proven to be as safe or as effective as eartipping.

Copyright Alley Cat Allies. All rights reserved.