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New to Feral Rescue Work

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

I live in New Hampshire and I very much want to start rescue work of ferals. I live in the country, on an acre and a half and have yet, in the almost 2 yrs I've lived in this town, seen a stray/feral cat.

I have many questions.. so here's a start:

1) Since I have yet to see a stray.. what would your suggestions be about attracting any? Do I put traps out elsewhere? How do I know where to put them where I'm not trapping a pet? Should I call the local humane society and ask them if they know of any ferals in the area?

2) Should I really be bringing them back to my home if there are roads nearby? I live near a highway type of road (40mph but everyone does 50) and I'm part of a 'development'. I'm at the beginning of it so I have woods around me (and a waterfall behind) but to the right of my house is the highway, and front and left are side roads. I know it's hard to explain but I'm such an advocate for indoor cats, I have a hard time bringing a cat to my home where they could just as easily get hurt by a car. Across the highway is a ski mountain where obviously a lot of wild animals live. To give you an idea-the highway is only maybe a 1/5 of a mile (1/4 max) from my house, if the woods weren't there.

3) What would you say are the major things to keep in mind when handling ferals and making sure your pets stay healthy? Of course wash hands immediately. What diseases could my indoor cats be vulnerable to that I need to be aware of?

4) I know this can get expensive. What kind of financial commitment would you say this type of rescue work takes?

I'm sure there are many and I apologize if this has already been asked a million times over in other threads. Also apologize for what may be stupid questions to others- I just really want to make sure I do all my homework on this.

Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 26
Unfortunately I don't have many answers to your questions, but I have some ideas.

You may want to see if there are any other feral/rescue groups in your area, they may have information and leadership to help you with.

I would also look at the websites of other feral groups for answers to some of your questions. A good place to start is:

Alley Cat Allies

Sorry I can't be of more help, I mostly foster and do not have my own colonies. Hopefully someone else will have more answers!
post #3 of 26
First of all thank you for caring so much. It might be better for you to find a group in your area that works with feral cats and "hitch a ride" and volunteer to help. You will see first-hand the problems encountered with unmanaged colonies, and perhaps be able to take a few into your home? You will help with spay and neuter day, be on call with the group and learn how to trap and neuter. Be sure you are in this 100% If you put food out, they will come. They will come first one at a time, then in groups. You will have tomcats and queens and kittens, you will be dealing with parasites (especially flea-born diseases). If you have ticks in your area, this is a grave concern as well.

It is fine to feed the strays- but also trapping, spaying and neutering is a MUST! It gets expensive, so once you are underway, contact the local animal shelters and find out if they disperse low-cost spay and neuter certificates.

Educate the people gently that are giving away free kittens and puppies. Make up fliers to hand to people- organize fundraisers and give the money over to the rescue group

There are lots of ways to help- just be sure you are committed to it because it is exhausting, it is aggravating, it is heartbreaking and it is rewarding!
post #4 of 26
Thread Starter 
There is one called Voice For Animals and I called almost a week ago but they have yet to call me back.

I will check out the link you suggested.

Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by eatrawfish
Unfortunately I don't have many answers to your questions, but I have some ideas.

You may want to see if there are any other feral/rescue groups in your area, they may have information and leadership to help you with.

I would also look at the websites of other feral groups for answers to some of your questions. A good place to start is:

Alley Cat Allies

Sorry I can't be of more help, I mostly foster and do not have my own colonies. Hopefully someone else will have more answers!
post #5 of 26
Usually these groups are so busy, and it is kitty season in many areas that they don't have time to answer phones or emails. I hooked up with an organization early on and got their attention by sending them a handsome check with strings attached. I wanted to ride along on trapping day, I wanted in on spay and neuter day and I wanted to see first-hand the workings of the group or I would stop payment on the check. Worked like a charm!
post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hissy,

Very good ideas, and thank you for the insight. You encouraged me by your story of the kittens from the field.. that was just so, so sad.

When I did a search for a local feral TNR program, I came up w/ the Voice for Animals but they are out of Maine, with only one chapter in NH and I didn't even recognize the town (ha, although that's not to say much). I should call the local shelter and ask them if they know of any, and then the other questions you suggested.

I'm also a member of Peta- so I fully understand the importance of educating (regarding the things you mentioned). I also am involved w/ a local spay/neuter program locally. Since I've joined (only a couple weeks now) I have been able to get certificates to about 10 people! Not bad for just starting! I am relentless, and sometimes not so gentle when it comes to people being ignorant. Obviously I use my best discretion, knowing when to tell it like it is and not.

Very good ideas Hissy, thank you and I'll definitely be posting to let you all know how I'm coming along.

P.S., so you still suggest bringing them to my home where I live near roads like I do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy
First of all thank you for caring so much. It might be better for you to find a group in your area that works with feral cats and "hitch a ride" and volunteer to help. You will see first-hand the problems encountered with unmanaged colonies, and perhaps be able to take a few into your home? You will help with spay and neuter day, be on call with the group and learn how to trap and neuter. Be sure you are in this 100% If you put food out, they will come. They will come first one at a time, then in groups. You will have tomcats and queens and kittens, you will be dealing with parasites (especially flea-born diseases). If you have ticks in your area, this is a grave concern as well.

It is fine to feed the strays- but also trapping, spaying and neutering is a MUST! It gets expensive, so once you are underway, contact the local animal shelters and find out if they disperse low-cost spay and neuter certificates.

Educate the people gently that are giving away free kittens and puppies. Make up fliers to hand to people- organize fundraisers and give the money over to the rescue group

There are lots of ways to help- just be sure you are committed to it because it is exhausting, it is aggravating, it is heartbreaking and it is rewarding!
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
I definitely want to be a part of that as well.

I did help w/ a yard sale a couple weeks ago for the Spay/Neuter program and plan on having one of my own. If there aren't many TNR programs around locally, I am going to see what I can do to organize a group myself of others that are just as passionate. Maybe I could get names from the shelter or local vets that know of individuals that do this. I always think big - maybe myself and these other individuals can put together a website and a non-profit organization to raise funds for this. =) I'm sure it can happen! =)
Wish me luck. My 1 1/2 just woke up so I need to get him, walk to the bus stop for my other son and then I'll be making calls.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hissy
Usually these groups are so busy, and it is kitty season in many areas that they don't have time to answer phones or emails. I hooked up with an organization early on and got their attention by sending them a handsome check with strings attached. I wanted to ride along on trapping day, I wanted in on spay and neuter day and I wanted to see first-hand the workings of the group or I would stop payment on the check. Worked like a charm!
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by xomycatsxo
P.S., so you still suggest bringing them to my home where I live near roads like I do?
I think that depends on the situation. A managed colony will probably not need to be moved, and moving them is a long process. However, if they are in danger (often from people who will do things like poison them) your area is a far better choice.

And I agree, rescues are always hard to get in touch with because they are usually 100% volunteer and 100% strung out (they usually have day jobs etc). Hissy had a great idea.
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
She did have great ideas.

I agree- it's probably about the best situation for the cats.. if they're already in a worse predicament - then obviously I would bring them here. If all goes well and I really become involved, I may look into an outdoor enclosure, since my hubby is a contractor, I'm sure I could persuade him considering all the freaking lumber/building materials hanging around EVERYWHERE in our yard that I've been telling him to clean up.

SO... You still think if I put food out (even though I've yet to see one stray in 2 yrs) that cats will still come?
post #10 of 26
If you go the whole nine yards yes, feed trap, spay and neuter, re-release. Understand that most feral cats do not live beyond 4 years old. I have one (knock on wood) that will be eleven this year! He has never been indoors except when he was injured. He eats here- but he lives under an old abandoned farmhouse down the road.

You may put a lot of time and love and effort and money into these cats and then find them lying on the road, or torn up by a tomcat that someone abandoned. If you can handle the heartache, the anger, the disappointment and stick around for the rewards- then yes, start to feed.

My feral feeders are 33 gallon trash cans with tight lids. There is a hole carved out about the size of a ping pong ball, right at the base of the can in the front- almost ground level. I pour the food into the trash can, cap it tightly, take off the plug and let the feed spill down in trays. The bins are elevated a bit on stands to keep the bugs and the dampness out, but the cats can reach up with their paws and dislodge the food when there is none of the tray.
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
I don't know if I could handle the heartache, I'll be honest. I saw a cat hit on the highway a couple months ago and I just lost it. I drove to the next exit (I couldn't stop by then), got off, turned around, got back on the highway, did a U on the highway to where the cat was and, visibly shaking, walked out between all the traffic and picked the poor thing up. I was SOOOO angry and crying hysterically. I called my husband and barely able to talk told him what I had found and that I hate people. I was so angry, obviously not thinking straight, and lashing out. I took the poor kittie home and buried him on my property. The poor thing was warm so it must have just happened. I was just so sad and shaken, it took a few days for me to shake it. So, I probably don't have the heart for disappointments, but I need to find out for myself. I've been through horrible things in my life which I think has given me such a big heart for cats (and children). I want to advocate, educate and help any way I can.. and I know it means having my heart broken in the process but it also breaks my heart not to do anything at all.

Sorry for the long post. I'm watching Oprah while writing this, which isn't helping because I'm crying over all these poor people. One really good thing I just saw were all the animals Mathew Mcconaughey and others were rescuing. They showed some cats being reunited, which was so refreshing.
post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
I just had an idea- I'm going to post something in the RB board for the kitty that I went back to get, that is now resting in peace.

Oh, also - I guess I'm having a hard time getting a visual of the feeder you were talking about. Well, I get everything but how the cats get more if you have a cap on it? I didn't understand what you meant when you said, "the cats can reach up with their paws and dislodge the food when there is none of the tray". They can get the cap off? Sorry for sounding ignorant.
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
I just called a couple shelters and my vet's office.
Here's what I came up with:

The first shelter said they thought the Women's Prison (in Goffstown I think) has a feral rescue program. When I asked for more info, she thought they took these cats in and helped socialize them and get them adoptable. So, I will be calling to see if they can give me anymore information. I doubt they do their own trapping, but you never know- if they don't- I can find out who they're working with. I also left a message w/ the manager at the shelter to call me back.

I called another shelter in Concord, NH (about 30 min. from here) and I received their vm. On their outgoing message they said they were limiting their hours due to lack of staff, that they have sent out 2 staff members down south to help w/ the rescue efforts. That was comforting! =)

Then I called my local vet and I got a lot of good information. I spoke w/ Irene, who is the office manager that I have talked to in the past. She suggested I call a place in Salisbury, MA that does some of this work. She said she didn't know of anyone around here but when she was at the other place in MA- they had vet's and technicians volunteer their time, usually like once a month to spay/neuter these ferals (at the rate of 50 or so cats at a time, depending on how many volunteers there are). She said normally they like to do the neuters because they're quick, as opposed to the spays. She also said it's hard to find vet offices that offer any kind of special pricing, etc. because they don't want to work for less than what they "are worth" (basically). This call was great because I was able to talk w/ her about the spay/neuter program I'm involved with. The lady that heads this program said that my vet office has not been responsive at all about participating, and now I have the opportunity to possibly change that. I'm very excited about that. The only vets she has that participate are in Southern NH - none Central or Northern, so this is a great thing. =) Anyone in my area would have to drive about 45 minutes plus to get to a participating vet. I'm Central NH - anyone North - they pretty much can not utilize this program because the drive is just way too far to get to one of the vets.

I'll let you know more tomorrow when I make some additional calls. =) Doesn't sound like there are many TNR programs around here though!
post #14 of 26
Here is a list of organizations in Massachusettes that work with ferals:

http://www.alleycat.org/orgs.html#ma

Also...I noticed your signature has an indoor cat yahoo group. Please be aware that although many of us agree with you regarding cats in the USA...in other countries, cats living indoors/outdoors is an accepted practice.

Katie
post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 
I am very well aware of what others think- they're entitled to think cats belong outdoors just as much as I think cats belong indoors. I guess I'm confused as to the point of what you are saying is?

Thank you for the links. I think I've seen that link and will check it out. If anything I think it would be good to get information from them. I am in NH - and being Central at that- MA is a good hour plus for me to get to. Ha, especially w/ gas prices, I need to keep it local. In the two or three calls I've made so far I've already been informed a great deal so I'm sure I'll make a lot of progress w/ these.

Thanks,
Teshia

Quote:
Originally Posted by TNR1
Here is a list of organizations in Massachusettes that work with ferals:

http://www.alleycat.org/orgs.html#ma

Also...I noticed your signature has an indoor cat yahoo group. Please be aware that although many of us agree with you regarding cats in the USA...in other countries, cats living indoors/outdoors is an accepted practice.

Katie
post #16 of 26
Quote:
I am very well aware of what others think- they're entitled to think cats belong outdoors just as much as I think cats belong indoors. I guess I'm confused as to the point of what you are saying is?
My point is having a strict "indoor only" philosophy, while often expressed here in the USA, is not considered the norm in other countries. I have seen too many situations where people try to force individuals from other countries to adhere to an indoor only philosophy which is frustrating for both individuals.

Katie
post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 
I know we do not need to go back and forth on this, and this isn't the place. If you're asking me to not impose on other's beliefs.. or insult anyone's beliefs, I have not and will not. I will not however, shut up about what I believe in. I'm not insinuating you are saying this.. I'm sure you are now that I've gone on for ten minutes. =) I guess I still don't understand what you were saying to me, aside from the obvious that I already knew. You use the word "force" - well, if you see me ever do that, then take me off the boards.. but I have no intention of that. My whole purpose of starting the group I have was because I was on another board that had newbies coming in saying how their cat was hit, found on the road, barely alive, most likely having to be put down because they couldn't afford the money to do the surgery (amputate leg) etc. and I made it very clear I didn't feel a bit bad for them (the person, not the cat). I left the group, telling them I started my own group (Indoors Only) where I could feel safe from hearing such sad stories, when they could have been completely avoided if the cat were just indoors. Like I mentioned in another post.. when I have to drive around, heart racing that a cat is going to come jumping out in front of me.. I will believe and educate until the day I die that cats belong indoors, if it is at all humanly possible.

Please do not take my post personally- I am very passionate about this and just because I am does not mean I am going to belittle others. If they feel belittled, it's their own doing.
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Like I mentioned in another post.. when I have to drive around, heart racing that a cat is going to come jumping out in front of me.. I will believe and educate until the day I die that cats belong indoors, if it is at all humanly possible.
Understood..and no offense taken...but just because you have had personal stories along these lines where you live...does not mean that is the case for everyone.

Katie
post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 
LOL... Considering I feel as though my advocacy is the voice of millions of helpless cats around the world, I'd like to think my "personal" stories are more than just personal.. they're a fact and happening everywhere, therefore need to be heard everywhere.

I get what you're saying - if you don't think I do????

On to other things because I think we've made our points...
post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 
I have still been working on getting all my ducks lined up.

I e-mailed a member of the NHARL (NH Animal Rights League) who got me in touch w/ someone else. She also volunteers w/ the Animal Allies. This was her e-mail to me. I am SOOO excited and hope to be in touch via phone w/ her today so I can pick her brain and get started any way I can!

************************************************
I am a volunteer with a group who does a ton of trapping (Animal Allies).
We are always in desperate need of new volunteers as there are only 3 of us
who do it and the calls keep coming in. We work off a list of about 20-30
cat colonies that need our attention. They are in all different parts of
the state.

What we do in a nutshell is receive calls about people who are either
feeding strays or saw kittens where they work or were driving or what not.
We then get as much detail about the situation as possible from the person
and find out whether there is someone feeding the cats, what they have for
shelter, how many there are, are there any kittens, how old the kittens are
and if the adults are able to go back to their location if they are feral.
If there are kittens involved under 12 weeks we move them to a priority on
our list and get out there to trap ASAP and then try to work with the
kittens or get them into a foster home that will tame them down. We then go
back for the adults and will trap them, assess if they are friendly or
feral, spay/neuter and vaccinate the ferals and return them to their site if
they have food, water, shelter and a caretaker. If the cats are friendly we
try to place them ourselves or get them into a no-kill shelter. If the cats
can't go back to where they came from, we usually have to put those
locations to the bottom of our list because we then have to find barn homes
that will take the cats. Barn homes are hard to come by but we have found
some wonderful ones. People who are looking for mousers for their barn and
are willing to feed, water and care for the cats.

I would be happy to answer any questions or give you more information if you
need it. I can send you our brochure and a newsletter if you are interested
in reading more about what we do.

I appreciate your interest and hope sometime we can work together for our
furry friends.
post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 
I was thinking Animal Allies was the organization you were talking about. Has anyone heard of this organization?? I did a search and came up w/ two different websites so I'm not sure if it's even the right company.

Kind of confused.. any help would be great. I think I'm going to wait on getting more info from this lady though. Obviously it sounds like they are in great need of volunteers, and it's local so I'm sure this is the perfect answer for what I'm looking for. I'll keep everyone posted though. Again, any feedback on this org would be great.

Thanks!
post #22 of 26
Thread Starter 
I forgot to mention that when I took two of my kittens in for their first vet visit, the doctor said he and his wife (she also works at the practice) would be willing to volunteer some of their time to help alter ferals! I was so excited. Someone gave me the idea of gathering up several vets who would volunteer their time to do this (maybe like once a month or something) and so far, I have two and really haven't begun my soliciting!

I'm really excited about this. I'm waiting for a call back from that lady that e-mailed me from Animal Allies. It looks like it's a small operation but anything is better than nothing right now! I'll do what I can to make it bigger and get more volunteers. =)

All it takes is talking to people and considering how outgoing I am .. (I tell my whole life in about 5 minutes of meeting someone)... I don't think this will be a problem for me.

Wish me luck.. I'm getting a good head start I think.
post #23 of 26
Good luck!
post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thank you!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by eatrawfish
Good luck!
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by xomycatsxo
I forgot to mention that when I took two of my kittens in for their first vet visit, the doctor said he and his wife (she also works at the practice) would be willing to volunteer some of their time to help alter ferals! I was so excited. Someone gave me the idea of gathering up several vets who would volunteer their time to do this (maybe like once a month or something) and so far, I have two and really haven't begun my soliciting!

I'm really excited about this. I'm waiting for a call back from that lady that e-mailed me from Animal Allies. It looks like it's a small operation but anything is better than nothing right now! I'll do what I can to make it bigger and get more volunteers. =)

All it takes is talking to people and considering how outgoing I am .. (I tell my whole life in about 5 minutes of meeting someone)... I don't think this will be a problem for me.

Wish me luck.. I'm getting a good head start I think.
I would recommend that at first you participate in a TNR trapping session, observe a spay/neuter clinic and ask a LOT of questions....by working with a group, you will be agreeing to work within their policies which may be different than your own beliefs. Also....be aware that as a volunteer...you may have little influence on the decisions that are made within the group. So it would be best to first participate as an observer before making a commitment. I was very lucky in that both groups that I actively participate with are ones that I agree with their policies..but I've also run into people who started with a group and then got very annoyed when they felt they were not considered during the decisions made within the group or they discovered that the group did things that they did not agree with. This area is one where burnout happens often. Also...I'm a very extroverted person as well and I just want you to be aware that as many successful experiences as you will have with the public...you will also run into brick walls, people who don't care and people who will think you are crazy to care so much. Just know that everyone who is involved in rescue has these experiences and we are all here for each other.

Katie
post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 
Something was wrong w/ my notifications and I am just now seeing this.

Thanks Katie. You said it exactly.. I am definitely learning SOOO much more than I did a month ago! I've done TONS of research.

I really wish there was an Alley Cat Allies in my area- everything I've read so far I really agree with. I think the group I am going to be working with agrees to a certain extent as well - they just don't have the funds to do some of the things others do. They don't give any rabies shots, etc.- which I think should be done. I also think rescue work should be done and their take on it is they don't have enough time to worry about that, they only have the resources to worry about TNR. They will work w/ kittens and get them adopted out (by using a local shelter) and adults that are easily adoptable they bring to the shelter, if they have room.

Thanks again. I'm so sorry I haven't been in touch yet, it has been so crazy here!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TNR1
I would recommend that at first you participate in a TNR trapping session, observe a spay/neuter clinic and ask a LOT of questions....by working with a group, you will be agreeing to work within their policies which may be different than your own beliefs. Also....be aware that as a volunteer...you may have little influence on the decisions that are made within the group. So it would be best to first participate as an observer before making a commitment. I was very lucky in that both groups that I actively participate with are ones that I agree with their policies..but I've also run into people who started with a group and then got very annoyed when they felt they were not considered during the decisions made within the group or they discovered that the group did things that they did not agree with. This area is one where burnout happens often. Also...I'm a very extroverted person as well and I just want you to be aware that as many successful experiences as you will have with the public...you will also run into brick walls, people who don't care and people who will think you are crazy to care so much. Just know that everyone who is involved in rescue has these experiences and we are all here for each other.

Katie
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