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
707.252.7442

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

Whiskers, Tails & Ferals
1370 Trancas Street, #206, Napa (mailing address only)
707.258.2287

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

We Care Animal Rescue and Refuge
1345 Charter Oak, St. Helena
707.963.7044

  • 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
707.253.4382

  • 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
707.253.4517

  • 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
707.253-4357

  • 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 http://www.livetrap.com/.


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

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.


How To Deter Cats

So, you are seeing cats in your yard…

Like all animals, community cats make their home where they find shelter and food, often in close proximity to people. We understand that not everyone enjoys having cats in their yards, and these simple tips will help you divert outdoor cats away from certain areas. You may also want the cats to stick around; some ideas here will help make areas attractive to the cats. Coupled with Trap-Neuter-Return and ongoing care, these quick steps will help you coexist with your neighborhood cats!

Trap-Neuter-Return

Trap-Neuter-Return is the only effective and humane way to stabilize community cat populations. Cats are humanely trapped and taken to a Napa Humane, where they are neutered and vaccinated. Very young kittens and socialized cats can be taken to the Napa County Animal Shelter to be placed into loving homes. Healthy, adult feral cats are returned to their colony site.

Trap-Neuter-Return works. No more kittens. Cats’ lives and health are improved, and the population stabilizes and declines over time. The behaviors and stresses associated with mating, such as yowling and fighting, often stop.

Here are some easy solutions to common cat behaviors:

Cats are digging in my garden.

Explanation: It is a cat’s natural instinct to dig and deposit in soft or loose soil, moss, mulch, or sand.

Quick Solutions:

  • Scatter fresh orange and lemon peels or spray with citrus scented fragrances. Coffee grounds, vinegar, pipe tobacco, or oil of lavender, lemongrass, citronella, or eucalyptus also deter cats.
  • Plant the herb rue to repel cats, or sprinkle dried rue over the garden.
  • Use plastic carpet runners spike-side up, covered lightly in soil. They can be found at local hardware or office supply stores. Or, set chicken wire firmly into the dirt with sharp edges rolled under.
  • Artfully arrange branches in a lattice-type pattern or wooden or plastic lattice fencing material over soil. You can disguise these by planting flowers and seeds in the openings. You can also try embedding wooden chopsticks, pinecones, or sticks with dull points deep into the soil with the tops exposed eight inches apart.
  • ObtainCat ScatTM, a nonchemical cat and wildlife repellent consisting of plastic mats that are cut into smaller pieces and pressed into the soil. Each mat has flexible plastic spikes that are harmless to cats and other animals, but discourage digging. Available at gardeners.com.
  • Cover exposed ground in flower beds with large, attractive river rocks to prevent cats from digging. They have the added benefit of deterring weeds.
  • Establish a litter box by tilling the soil or placing sand in an out-of-the-way spot in your yard. Keep it clean and free of deposits.

Feeding the cats attracts insects and wildlife.

Explanation: Cats are to be fed under proper guidelines. Leaving food out can attract other animals.

Quick Solutions:

  • Keep the feeding area neat and free of leftover food and trash.Feed cats at the same designated time each day, during daylight hours. 

  • They should be given only enough food for them to finish in one sitting, and all remaining food should be removed after 30 minutes. If another person is feeding, ask them to follow these guidelines too. For a more thorough list of colony management guidelines, visit Colony Care.

Cats are lounging in my yard or on my porch.

Explanation: Cats are territorial and will remain close to their food source.

Quick Solutions:

  • Apply cat repellent fragrances liberally around the edges of the yard, the tops of fences, and on any favorite digging areas or plants.
  • Install an ultrasonic animal repellent or a motion-activated water sprinkler, such as CatStopTM or the ScareCrowTM.

Cats are getting into my trash.

Explanation: Cats are scavengers and are looking for food

Quick Solutions:

  • Place a tight lid on your trash can. Exposed trash bags will attract wildlife as well.
  • See if neighbors are feeding the cats. If they are, make sure they are doing so on a regular schedule.
  • Start feeding the cats yourself if you find no regular feeder—at a set time, during daylight hours, in an out-of-the-way place. Feeding cats regularly and in reasonable quantities, which can be eaten in less than 30 minutes or so, will help ensure they don’t get so hungry they turn to the trash.

Cats are yowling, fighting, spraying, roaming, and having kittens.

Explanation: These are all mating behaviors displayed by cats who have not been spayed and neutered, and they will continue to breed.

Quick Solutions:

  • Spaying or neutering and vaccinating the cats will stop these behaviors. Male cats will no longer compete, fight, spray, or roam. Females will stop yowling and producing kittens. After sterilization, hormones leave their system within three weeks and the behaviors usually stop entirely.
  • To combat the urine smell, spray the area thoroughly with white vinegar or with products that use natural enzymes to combat the smell, such at Nature’s Miracle®, Fizzion Pet Stain & Odor Remover, or Simple Solution®, available at pet supply stores.
  • You can find local resources and help at Alley Cat Allies.

Cats are sleeping under my porch or in my shed.

Explanation: The cats are looking for a dry, warm shelter away from the elements.

Quick Solutions:

  • Physically block or seal the location the cats are entering with chicken wire or lattice once you are certain the cats are not inside. Be sure to search for kittens before confirming that the cats have left—especially during spring and summer, prime kitten season.
  • Provide a shelter (similar to a small doghouse). Or, if they are feral and part of a nearby managed colony, ask the caregiver to provide a shelter for the cats. Shelters should be hidden to keep the cats safe, and placing them in secluded areas can help guide the cats away from unwanted areas. 

There are cat paw prints on my car.

Explanation: Cats like to perch on high ground.

Quick Solutions:

  • Gradually move cats’ shelters and feeding stations away to discourage cats from climbing on cars.
  • Purchase a car cover.
  • Use deterrents listed in the next section.

 

Adapted from Alley Cat Allies.  All rights reserved.