Want to TNR feral cats but you're not sure what to do?  Feeling trapped and confused?  No problem... Meredith Weiss, our TNR Director, can help!

Dear Meredith,

One of the cats in my colony has been off her food  and I think the problem is her teeth. I need to get her to the vet asap and don't want to waste a lot of time trapping and releasing the wrong cats. How in the world do I get the right cat to go ito the trap?

K.G., Long Island

Dear K.G.,

The easiest and fastest way to pick one cat out of a crowd is with a drop trap. Click here for info about drop traps, as well as other methods to trap a single cat. Be patient and persistent.  Cats with dental problems will often go towards their food but then walk away. As long as she can smell (doesn't have an upper respiratory condition), the food should entice her; use alluring bait such as tuna, mackerel, sardines or warmed up cooked chicken with broth. 

Neighborhood Cats recently designed the first-ever commercially available drop trap. It's collapsible and lightweight so it's easy to transport and store.  The NC Drop Trap is manufactured by Tomahawk Live Trap; go to www.livetrap.com to order online or call 800-272-8727. To learn how to use the drop trap safely and effectively download the pdf file of our full instructions.

If you do trap a feral who's healthy and already neutered, simply release the cat. Good luck...hope your kitty gets to the dentist and starts enjoying her food again soon!

Dear Meredith,

Is it safe to TNR cats in winter? Or is it dangerous for them to have surgery and go back out into the cold? Can the females get frostbite where their tummies are shaved? I'm one of those people who gets chilly if goes below 80 so now that the temperature's dropping I'm really worried about this. Please advise!

Warm Heart, Cold Feet, NYC

Dear Warm-Cold,

The main advantages to practicing TNR during colder months are finding fewer pregnant and/or lactating cats and fewer litters of young kittens to cope with. The patch of shaved fur takes close to two months to grow back fully, but as long as you have insulated shelters in place the cats will be fine.  Practicing TNR in winter will help avoid the many births that occur in March and April.

Ideally winter shelters should be introduced in late fall so the cats have time to get used to them. Some won't use shelters until it's quite cold while others will explore them right away. You may have to experiment a little to find the best placement; try to think like a cat! If your territory allows, situate the shelters at a southern or western exposure to benefit from the warmth of the sun. You can place them near the feeding station, under an overhang or porch or behind bushes.

To entice cats to venture in, sprinkle some catnip inside or toss in a handful of their favorite treats. Never put canned food or water in the shelters! The insulation should be straw - not hay,blankets or towels. Use enough straw so the cats can burrow into it (loosely fill to at least half of the interior space; it will pack down with use). Straw has low natural moisture content which makes it less likely to develop mold and the hollow shaft makes it lightweight and a good insulator. Hay, more often used as feed, can retain a higher moisture level. For more info about a variety of winter shelters visit: http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/HOW_TO_FERAL_CAT_WINTER_SHELTER

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