Free-Roaming Cats Program
Pets In Stitches offers a unique free-roaming cat program to help address the needs of independent free-roaming cats in the Miami Valley area. Called the Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) program, it addresses the issues of such cats, efficiently and humanely.
- We offer affordable, convenient spaying and neutering to free-roaming cats, along with appropriate vaccinations and ear tipping.
- No appointment is necessary for free-roaming cats in humane traps, but we request you call ahead to let us know you are coming. Please arrive at Pets In Stitches before noon, Monday through Thursday, with up to two free-roaming cats to be added to our schedule.
- Pets in Stitches rents live release traps for secure and safe trapping of free-roaming cats.
What is a free-roaming cat?
A free-roaming cat lives outside and is not socialized to humans. Free-roaming cats can live long, healthy lives, content in their outdoor home with their colony mates. Some free-roaming cats are feral, which means they are not tame and do not allow handling by humans. Not every free-roaming cat is feral and some free-roaming cats can become beloved pets. Free-roaming cats typically live in cat colonies where they have access to food and shelter. An unmanaged colony can become a problem, with rampant breeding, lack of food and problematic mating behaviors (fighting, yowling, etc.)
Catching and euthanizing free-roaming cats does not work to manage a colony. When free-roaming cats are removed from an area, survivors breed to capacity or new cats move in, which is known as the well-documented “vacuum effect.”
The Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) Program
This is a comprehensive management plan where healthy free-roaming cats are sterilized, vaccinated and returned to their habitat. Free-roaming cats can live healthy, natural lives on their own, content in their outdoor home with a one-time intervention from humans through Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return.
The TNVR program stabilizes the colony size by eliminating new litters, so the total number of colony cats can decrease with time. It also reduces the nuisance behavior associated with unsterilized cats. TNVR’s most measurable effect is that fewer cats and kittens flow through animal shelters, resulting in lower euthanasia rates and increased adoptions of shelter cats.
TNVR is widely regarded as the most successful and humane method to reduce the free-roaming cat overpopulation. This method has been endorsed by national animal welfare groups, as well as many animal control departments, as the best option for free-roaming cats and their communities.
Pets In Stitches is proud to offer this important service to manage free-roaming cats in the Miami Valley area. For more information on how to handle free-roaming cat colonies, please visit these helpful sites:
Preparing to Trap Free-Roaming Cats
- Prepare a trap for each cat. Keep in mind we can only process two free-roaming cats a day unless prior arrangements have been made.
- Gather blankets, sheets or large towels to cover the traps while trapping and during transport.
- If you or others normally feed the outdoor cats, on the day before trapping supply only half the usual amount of food so the cats will be hungry. Never withhold water though.
- Prepare an area to hold the cats after trapping such as a garage, bathroom or other protected area with controlled temperature.
- If you trap one or two days before surgery, provide clean bedding, food and water every day.
Setting the Trap
Use caution and common sense when trapping outdoor animals.
- Place the trap on a low, level surface in the area where the cats usually feed or have been seen. Cats are less likely to enter a trap if it wobbles or if it is in danger of toppling.
- Do not line the bottom of the trap with sections of newspaper. Do not use bowls or towels in the trap either.
- Use cheaper, smelly canned food such as Friskies or Whiska’s to bait the trap. Add a small amount of food directly on a small piece of newspaper deep in the back of the trap. Make the food difficult to reach so that the cat must enter the trap completely and step on the trap mechanism.
- Never leave traps unattended in an unprotected area so the cat can’t be injured or attacked within the trap. But you must also remain unseen so the cat approaches the cage.
- As soon as a cat is trapped, quietly approach the cage, place a covering over the occupied trap and remove it from the area.
- Always wear heavy gloves and use the trap’s handle when moving the cage.
- Occupied traps should not be placed in the sun, left in the path of sprinklers, or accessible to wild animals (e.g., coyotes or dogs).
- When the captured animal is in a quiet area, check to make sure you have the correct cat, not a wild animal, a pet or previously neutered cat (look for a tipped ear.)
- Keep the cage’s top, sides and back covered at all times. This helps the cat’s stress levels as well as their comfort. A cat that can see out may become frantic and injure themselves. Choose a light covering for warm months and a heavier covering for cold months.
- Withhold food after midnight the evening prior to surgery. However, small kittens should have food until 8 a.m. Water should be available at all times except for during transport to Pets In Stitches.
Nursing Mothers and Kittens
A lactating female will continue to make milk after being spayed and can return to nurse her kittens. She should not be held more than 24 hours, if her kittens are actively nursing. We typically recommend having the kittens be at least 4 weeks old before trying to trap mom. Refrain from trapping a nursing mother sooner than necessary so she can care for her kittens.
Day of Surgery
You will need to complete two forms for surgery: the Admission Form and the Surgical and Ancillary Services Consent Form. These can be downloaded, completed, and brought with you or you may fill them out when you arrive at Pets In Stitches. etc.
On the day of surgery assure your traps are securely latched and that the trap is empty except for a layer of newspaper and the cat. Please only house one cat per trap.
Bring in the paperwork and the cats before 12 p.m. (noon), Monday through Thursday for surgery. Note that the standard fees for cats apply.
Free-roaming cats are released between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. on the same day of surgery. At pick-up you will receive specific post-operative care instructions for free-roaming cats. Any questions can be answered at this time, and you will be informed of any conditions or medical issues the veterinarian may have found during examination.
Return the cat to their home area and release. Traps can be returned or used again, if trapping multiple free-roaming cats.
We take steps to assist caretakers in spaying and neutering free-roaming cats. In addition to our traps for rent and our staff’s experience with trapping, we eartip female cat’s right ear and male cat’s left ear. This allows caretakers to easily identify previously sterilized cats and avoid unnecessary repeat surgery…
...and, as always, I am dedicated to providing affordable spay and neuter services in a professional environment.
Dr. Danielle N. Rastetter, DVM.