Feral Cat Fridays: Scratch & Sniff

Several weeks ago I mentioned Grable. She arrived with 3 kittens (Cody, Callie, & Chessie) in tow so we had to delay her spaying until the kittens were on their own. That delay gave us a lesson in the value of a quick and efficient trap, neuter, and release (TNR) program.

Grable spent a lot of time away from the colony and would have been hard to trap even without the complication of a litter of kittens. As we were preparing to trap her for spaying she appeared with 2 more kittens. As before, Grable and the kittens kept primarily to the woods behind the house. We saw them only when they came down for food and water.

Scratch sees the photographer in the window
Sniff comes down to the water bowl

As you can see, Scratch and Sniff were nearly identical white kittens. It’s our guess that Uncle Ernie’s efforts to attract as many cats as possible to our property paid off.

Uncle Ernie rests after a long day

We could trap Grable as soon as we knew Scratch and Sniff were eating on their own, and we wanted to trap Scratch and Sniff as soon as they were old enough for spaying/neutering. We had trapped quite a few cats by now and had developed a system of leading cats deeper and deeper into the traps by propping the doors open and gradually moving the food toward the back.

Grable and Scratch watch Sniff eat in the trap

After the training period we would release the door so it could close. When the cat moved deep into the trap the trigger panel (under the newspaper you can see spread on the trap floor) would release the door.

If a cat was particularly trap shy and would not enter far enough to trigger the floor release we would tie the door to a length of monofilament fishing line. The line ran though an eyelet screwed into the cedar tree you see in the photo, back to the house, and through a window. We would release the door manually from inside the house when the cat moved far enough into the trap to be caught.

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