Finding a way to keep kittens at bay

By Trisha Gurley

It’s 2am and my husband Kris and I have just been roused from sleep. Our cat Milton is meowing and pawing inside our bedroom window. Outside the window, we hear scratching and pulling at the window screen.

I suppose this scenario could be unnerving to some, but neither Kris nor myself even bother to get up. We know it’s not a potential intruder or some threat lurking outside. It’s one of the few feral, or wild, cats that live on our street paying a nighttime visit to a fellow kitty, albeit through a shut window.

I must admit that I know of no solution for the feral cat population aside from the obvious spaying and neutering. However, when I’ve spotted the gray feral cats that like to visit Milton, they’ve always turned and run, never letting me near. So I decided it was time to do some homework on feral cats.

Given the tough street life these ferals live, injuries are common. However, a feral is not likely to approach a person, even if it is in pain. The only safe and humane option is to trap these cats in order to provide them with medical attention or to spay/neuter.

There are two rules when trapping a feral. One, never attempt to pick up a feral cat! A feral may have never been touched in its life. Trying to pick it up will do nothing but scare the cat. A human trying to wrestle such cats into a carrier or trap will no doubt be scratched, bitten, or full on attacked. Two, do not use any sort of tranquilizing method or net to trap a cat. Again, this is nothing but frightening and stressful to a cat.

As barbaric as trapping a cat sounds, traps for cats are humane and painless. They can be purchased at any home-based store like Lowe’s or Home Depot.

The best local resource for feral cats is the Mid-South Spay and Neuter Services. They have humane traps that can be borrowed for a $50 deposit. Their website has an entire page devoted to trapping feral cats and bringing them in to their facility to be spayed or neutered. Go to spaymemphis.org and click on the Feral Cat Information link on the left side of the page. There is more information there than could possibly be contained in this column!

Once you have read up on what you need to do and have trapped a feral cat, you can call (901) 324-3202 to make an appointment to have the cat spayed or neutered. Bear in mind that cats brought in to be spayed/neutered must be in a humane trap.

With my research complete, I now have a humane trap at the ready for Milton’s nighttime visitors. Hopefully soon we can rest easier, not just because of the silenced cat chorus, but because we have helped prevent more ferals from being born and dying on the streets.

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