Returning the Cats

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You’ve done the hard work: you’ve trapped the cats, taken them to the vet to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and eartipped, and helped them through recovery. Now you need to return them to their original colony location where they were trapped. Here’s what’s left:

  1. Return the cat. Release the cats out of the traps in the same place where you trapped them. Don’t worry if a cat hesitates before leaving—he’s reorienting himself to his surroundings. Sometimes cats will “disappear” for a day – or a few days – after they are returned. It’s OK; they’ll show up again eventually! Resume the feeding schedule and continue providing food and water even if you don’t see them—they may eat when you’re not around for a while.
  2. Thoroughly clean the traps with nontoxic disinfectant after the return. Whether the traps are borrowed or your own, leave them cleaner than you found them so they’re ready for the next trapping adventure. Even clean traps should be disinfected—the scent of the previous cat may deter new cats from entering.

Note that relocation should be considered a last resort under extreme circumstances when the cats’ lives are in imminent danger. In that case, be prepared by reading our Guidelines for Safe Relocation of Feral Cats.

IMPORTANT: Even in the best case scenarios relocation can be very dangerous for cats and ineffective. Relocation is stressful for cats and since community cats are not socialized to people they can be unpredictable. Community cats bond to their outdoor homes and will try to go back—in some cases cats have died in the process, when people misguidedly believe that their life will be better someplace else.

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