Napa Humane has developed a two-part strategy for minimizing the negative impact of un-owned cats in our neighborhoods:
(1) A robust Trap-Neuter-Return program, and
(2) Humane Neighbors, educating residents about how to humanely manage community cat behavior.
PART ONE: Trap-Neuter-Return
All Napa County residents can agree it’s essential to keep the population of un-owned cats in our community as small as possible. Cats living outside and without a caregiver is less than ideal, and our ecosystem is simply not equipped to deal with large communities of predators whose waste pollutes water systems and crops.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR for short) is an approach to the community cat challenge that controls population growth without resorting to lethal methods, and improves quality of life for both cats and humans. Cats are humanely trapped, taken to a veterinarian to be vaccinated, neutered, and eartipped (visually signaling that they are neutered), and then returned to the place they were trapped.
Ending the cats’ breeding cycles not only stops population growth in its tracks, it also makes the cats better neighbors by greatly reducing the incidence of obnoxious behaviors, like yowling, fighting, and spraying. Administering standard feline vaccines also prevents the spread of diseases like rabies, which affect other Napa County mammals-including humans.
Eartipping is essential to the program, visually signaling that a cat has been spayed or neutered. While a cat is anesthetized for its surgery, the vet removes the distal one-quarter of a cat’s ear, approximately 3/8 inch, or 1 cm, in an adult. This universally accepted method allows everyone to immediately tell-even from a distance-whether or not a cat has been neutered, thereby avoiding unnecessary trapping and additional surgeries.
Napa Humane’s TNR Program
*Due to Covid and related staffing shortages, we reserve the right to make modifications to this program and ask that trappers be flexible and work with us. However, last year at the height of Covid, we were still able to spay/neuter 775 community cats with our drop off program. This is in addition to the community cats we saw for scheduled spay/neuter appointments.
Napa Humane’s TNR program provides loaner traps and advice, and makes it possible to accommodate Napa County community cats without an appointment. At our clinic in Napa, community cats are spayed/neutered and eartipped; and vaccinated for rabies, rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia (cats under the age of 3 months do not receive a rabies vaccine). We provide all of these services for $35 per cat for Napa County residents. Proof of residency will be required.
If you have a cat in a trap, you may bring him/her to the Clinic (3265 California Boulevard, Napa) on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. (with the exception of holidays). Please bring no more than one cat per day. We will do our best to fit the cat into that surgery day but in some instances we may need to ask you (the trapper) to bring the cat back the following day, or we may need to hold the cat overnight, or have the cat transferred to the Napa County Animal Shelter for a holding period until our schedule allows us to perform the surgery. Cats going home after surgery must be picked up between 3:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on the day of their surgery. This program is subject to change due to Covid and related staffing shortages.
After surgery, allow the cat to recover overnight in the trap or hard-sided carrier. Keep the cat in its trap or carrier and make sure he/she is dry and away from loud noises or dangers such as toxic fumes, other animals, or people. When a cat is recovering from anesthesia, he/she is unable to regulate their body temperature, so it is extremely important that the recovery location is temperature-controlled.
Check on the cat often to make sure s/he is recovering; keep an eye out for bleeding and illness. If a cat is vomiting, bleeding, having difficulty breathing, or not waking up, get veterinary assistance immediately.
Unless the vet tells you otherwise, a cat must be held at least until the morning after surgery, or longer if their recovery speed is slower. Make sure the cat is fully conscious, clear-eyed, and alert before letting them go free. In some cases, females may need 48 hours of recovery, depending on their specific circumstances. You may return a nursing mother cat to her kittens as soon as possible, however, once she completely regains consciousness.
Release the cat in the same place you trapped him/her. Do not be concerned if the cat hesitates a few moments before leaving the crate/trap. S/he is simply reorienting to the surroundings. It is not uncommon for a cat to “disappear” for a few days after being returned. Resume any regular feeding schedule, and continue to provide food and water-the cat may be eating when you are not around.
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