Above: Riesling, before and after (in the trap and then available for adoption). It was found in Manchester, trapped while the Manchester Animal Shelter volunteers were working to capture a mother and two kittens. He was adopted in March.
MANCHESTER, NH – The Friends of the Manchester Animal Shelter, with the help of local citizens, recently stepped up their efforts to trap cats as stray cat populations continue to be reported in the city. While some may be familiar with the process, the shelter has seen an opportunity to increase awareness and education about the shelter’s efforts to reduce the population size of cats in the community.
In its simplest form, cat trapping is the process of safely moving stray cats into an indoor setting (usually an animal shelter) from outside. While the process has many different outcomes, trapping cats often involves returning lost cats to an owner, adoption efforts, or what is commonly known as TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return). Each scenario should be carefully assessed by shelter experts and locals who choose to get involved in the process.
While many cats have been successfully adopted from the shelter that arrived by trapping, there are numerous benefits to those being safely released where they were found. In some cases, animal shelters find that the cat is best suited to continue living in the wild. In this scenario, the cat is neutered and prepared for return.
This is Christmas trapped. She comes from a large colony that is monitored and cared for by MAS volunteers. She was adopted in March.
Christmas in your new home. Courtesy photo
Manchester Animal Shelter’s cat coordinator Nicole Saitta works closely with locals and cats entering the shelter. Saitta reports that female cats who are able to prevent the continuous cycle of mating and reproduction in the wild have much better overall health. Spaying and neutering greatly reduces the chances of cats developing breast and testicular cancer, and helps them gain weight and improve their coat condition. Steady cats are also less likely to roam around on a partner, which reduces the chance of being hit by a car.
Aside from the benefits for the cats, Saitta finds an overall value for the public with the “trap neuter return” option.
“Society also benefits from TNR. The first, most obvious benefit is reducing the cat population by stopping the kitten cycle, which one cat can run to 12,000 cats in five years. All cats that are caught and restrained will also be vaccinated. This protects both the cats and the community from infectious diseases such as rabies. Steady cats reduce problem behaviors like spraying, whining, or fighting, ”Saitta says.
This is Smudge and just some of their babies. MAS had a volunteer who tracked them down for countless hours for seven months. Smudge was very accomplished. In those seven months, Smudge had three litters and 14 kittens. All babies were brought to safety, and eventually Smudge was captured and neutered as well. All of them, including Smudge, were adopted to love families and do well. Courtesy photo
The strongest support for cat trapping is public participation. Anyone who believes there is a single cat or family of cats living near them can contact the shelter to coordinate the trapping efforts. While anyone is able to help the Manchester shelter, a great deal of planning is required before both the citizen and the shelter coordinator fall into the trap. It can take days to figure out how many cats are in the area, when they show up most often, and how “savvy” they are. Not to mention a preliminary assessment of whether or not the cat can be released must be done at the shelter.
This is a cat who enjoys breakfast and the outdoors in the colonies monitored and cared for by a MAS. Courtesy photo
“When we talk about getting a cat back where it came from, there are many things we’d like to ensure so that the cat can lead a happy and safe life. The first and most important is that there is a regular feeder in the area. We want to make sure we know someone who is on the lookout for this cat and will continue to do so. The weather must also be taken into account. In winter, a cat must be released within two weeks of being caught, otherwise it will lose its thick winter fur and can no longer be released, ”says Saitta.
From April 1stTwo cats were available for adoption at the Manchester Animal Shelter: Poppy and espresso, each of which was brought to the shelter by traps. In March alone, 10 cats were adopted, six of which were from local colonies that volunteers monitored to control the population. Two were turned over by a Good Samaritan who had provided them with food, while the remains were feral kittens reported by the public.
Allyssa Gilbert, who lives in Manchester, has been trapped since 2016 with the help of her daughter Kasey and her husband Corey. Recently, Gilbert supported the shelter with a large colony of community cats that lived near their backyard.
Night Vision: This is a cat that has been neutered and released to roll around in a catnip and enjoy life at night. He is in a colony run by a MAS volunteer. Courtesy photo
“We took a break from cat trapping in the summer of 2020, but the populations continued to grow. In spring 2021 our garden was full of cats as soon as the weather got warm. Some literally sunbathed on my daughter’s trampoline or in our flower beds and we saw four or five scatters when we got outside. When we contacted Nicole, we were able to identify at least a dozen in our area, ”says Gilbert.
Gilbert went on to discuss the challenges and concerns with trapping pregnant or nursing female cats. While pregnant mothers may be more easily fostered with the hope that the litter will be adopted, catching a nursing mother and not finding the kittens can be worrying.
“One day we set up some traps and caught two cats. A few days later we put in more and continued catching cats. After two and a half weeks we caught eight adult cats. All eight have been designated as a free service by the Manchester Animal Shelter. They helped us catch them, they picked up the traps, repaired them and either adopted them or returned them to where they were found. We think we have a dozen more that we’d like to catch in our area, but we’ve seen lots of happy neighbors and cats as a result of this great service, ”says Gilbert.
If you would like to contact the Manchester Animal Shelter to coordinate the traps, please contact Nicole Saitta firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 603-628-3544 x 206.