Notable NEWS! We had a “Mention” on Facebook by Alley Cat Allies, highlighting work done in 2015 here in Live Oak for NFCD 2015. Follow the link below! We were honored and humbled that ACA chose us as one of the spotlight NFCD activities for 2015. Thanks ACA! Here is the excerpt from their post:
National Feral Cat Day is October 16th! One way to get involved is to host a spay/neuter clinic in your community. This can make a huge difference in the lives of cats—studies show spayed and neutered cats lead healthier and longer lives!
Last year, Suwannee PAWS Inc. Spay/Neuter Clinic in Live Oak, FL, opened its clinic to community cats and lowered its fees for a spay/neuter clinic held for National Feral Cat Day 2015. They were able to spay and neuter close to 70 cats in o…
Suwannee PAWS, Inc. is dedicated to helping feral and “community” cats. **You do not have to be from Suwannee County to use our feral and other spay/neuter services** Please see a copy of our Feral Cat Policy at the bottom of this page.
Please read the related section on this website called “CAT CORNER and TNR programs” for a beginner’s level explanation of the terms “feral cat”, “community cat”, “colony”, “TNR”, and “SNR” for starters. It also gives many links and resources regarding the concept of TNR.
At Suwannee PAWS Inc. in Live Oak, Florida, we can receive feral cats on a walk-in basis. No appointment is necessary but we do ask that you call in advance to let us know you are coming. We may be able to perform the surgery or medical procedure on the same day, and we may need to keep them overnight since we currently perform surgeries three days a week. We ask that true ferals come to us in a live trap.
It is our position that through judicious TNR and implementation of SNR, we can stabilize cat populations, increase overall cat health and indirectly human health, and also reduce shelter intake and needless euthanasia of endless cats through alternative approaches. This would result in an “unclogging” of the cage space in the animal shelter, decreased spread of upper respiratory disease, and allow more focus and resources to adopt socialized cats who are in need of a home.
Suwannee PAWS, Inc. has only recently achieved the 501(c)(3) nonprofit designation (October of 2016), so we will now begin to explore financial grant assistance. We have always offered TNR services at a reduced rate and have helped many feral cats, and we strive for the day when these services can be offered at no cost through our organization. Keep calling back, you never know when we may receive grant funding or private donations or collaboration with a larger organization! Anyone supporting this cause can also sponsor our feral cat program by contacting us. We are seeking help with community trapping, transport, release, program development, and trap donation (30 to 36″ X 12″ preferred). We have several rural communities are ready to use our services but there are no current means for the transportation of cats to our facility. If you have a means of transport (unused van or SUV) and are willing to help in Taylor, Hamilton, Madison, Gilchrist, Lafayette or Dixie counties, please contact us immediately.
Dr. Daniels’s experience with feral and community cats:
- In the spay/neuter specialty since 2009
- Attended Humane Alliance spay/neuter training program from in June 2015 in Asheville, North Carolina. **Sponsored by a scholarship from The Neighborhood Cats, Inc. (http://www.neighborhoodcats.org)
- Volunteer student spay coach at Operation Catnip in Gainesville, Florida in 2015/16
- Attended “Rethinking the Cat” symposium in June 2015 at the University of Florida
- Completed a week-long course on Communty Cat Management at the University of Florida sponsored by Maddie’s and PetSmart Charities in 2013
Current programs for feral and community cats at Suwannee PAWS, Inc: Please call 386-362-1754, we are constantly evolving and coming up with new ways to help these kitties.
SPI FERAL CAT POLICY
Thank you for your interest in helping the feral cat population! By trapping, caring for, and releasing these animals in and around our communities, we can make a significant difference in their overall health and quality of life. Also, we can help control disease and continued overbreeding of these cats in the wild, and ultimately reduce the number of euthanized cats in animal shelters while stabilizing colony populations.
First, with regard to the handling and transportation of the cats, we require that any fractious strays, feral, and “community cats” be transported to our clinic in individual, properly working live traps made for small animals. There are excellent models available at Tractor Supply Company, hardware stores, and online (Tomahawk traps with a back “feeding door” are preferred). Some of the Tru-Catch traps are acceptable as well. Many raccoon traps are also useful. NO REGULAR CAT CARRIERS ARE ACCEPTABLE. This is so that we can safely inject the cat through the trap without physically removing it, which eliminates the risk of our staff by being bitten or injured by the frightened cats. If the traps are too tall or too wide, the cat can move around too much and avoid injection. We have a few traps available for loan, but they are normally all out in the field in use. One goal is to have a bigger trap bank in the future.
We request that no shredded paper, litter, or sand boxes be placed in the cages (flat paper is fine); food containers can often not be avoided since that is used to lure the ferals into the traps. We also request that a thin fabric sheet/cover be placed over the trap during transport to help provide more security for the trapped cats and to avoid extra visual stresses.
For the purposes of classifying feral and community cats, if you cannot easily pick up the cat and pet it or handle it on a regular basis, it will be classified at this clinic in the feral category. We understand that familiar people may occasionally be able to handle some of these cats in their usual environment, but when cornered in a cage after a car ride in the presence of barking dogs and unfamiliar cats and humans, they become very frightened and often display intense fear aggression.
Please only bring one animal in each live trap. In the event that two or more accidentally are trapped inside one live trap, we will do our best but cannot guarantee the procedure will be performed. Every effort will be made to separate the two cats for injection and for the procedure, but remember that after the procedure, they are often disoriented during recovery and may lash out in defense and confusion at the other cat in the cage with redirected aggression.
Feral cats should be two pounds or more in weight; this is equivalent to an approximately 8 week old kitten.
Animals brought to us in these live traps are not handled preoperatively. Body temperatures and complete physical examinations before anesthesia are not performed like we do for pet domestic cats. A visual examination is made, an approximation of weight is made, and if they seem healthy we will proceed with injection of anesthesia through the cage. Only after they are sedated will they be removed and examined for injuries, ear mites, oral problems, etc. After the surgery they will be placed back in the trap onto several sheets of newspaper and placed into a quiet isolated room until you pick them up. We prefer that the kitties are observed for at least 8-12 hours or overnight before being released back into the wild, because a sedated cat cannot defend itself properly. **An exception is often made in the case of a mother cat that we know or suspect has kittens in the wild.
With regard to medical services, we can offer the following for the feral cats:
- Post-sedation complete medical examination by the veterinarian
- Ear-tipping of the left ear (removal of a piece of ear to identify which feral cats in the colony have been spayed or neutered). This is recommended but optional.
- Deworming in the form of injectable ivermectin and/or injectable tapeworm medication, or topical preparations
- Treatment for ear disorders and/or ear mites
- Treatment of wounds or abscesses or skin disease
- Topical application of a flea/tick/heartworm combination product. Acceptable products at this time include Revolution (recommended), Advantage Multi, Cheristin, Activyl, Advantage, Frontline Plus / Tritak, and Vectra.
- One injection of a long-acting antibiotic, we can also send home some powders you can place in wet food for continued antibiotic treatment in some circumstances
- Feline leukemia and FIV testing
- Fecal examination (not commonly done)
- Additional surgical procedures that may be required
- Re-vaccination of a trapped cat for booster purposes
These procedures are all optional but many feral cat caretakers request these procedures routinely. There are grant programs which may also provide money which can help with the costs, we are currently trying to apply for some of these funds but have not yet been approved.
With regard to viral testing for Feline Leukemia and Feline AIDS (FIV), at this clinic we will not “mix” the blood from several cats or kittens; each test will be conducted only on one cat or kitten at a time. We also do not recommend routine testing on feral cats except in some circumstances, such as a “closed” colony or if a cat appears significantly ill.
With regard to scheduling, feral cats take more time and handling and on average require nearly twice as long for the entire procedure from start to finish, since we work through a trap. The feral cats are often done last after all the other cat surgeries, so that any infectious disease cannot be spread by the handling and use of the masks and anesthesia tubing to the domesticated pets of our clients.
To have feral cats admitted here for surgery, you will need to do the following:
- We understand that it is difficult to know when you are going to be able to trap a feral cat, but we still need you to call ahead of time and tell us when you are attempting to trap one (or more).
- You may bring in feral cats Monday through Thursday at any time of the day (9-5); we ask that if at all possible no traps be set on a Thursday night to limit those brought in on Fridays, however we do accept them before noon on Fridays. At this time we are operating on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. We prefer to have all ferals come in before noon, but we will take them when you catch them throughout the day and keep them overnight if necessary. For the best chance of having them sterilized and released the same day, please try to have them to us before 9:30 am.
- Know the approximate size or age of the ferals if possible, it can be as simple as “old large adult” or “small kitten.”
- Some people can handle their community cats at home. If you can handle them cautiously (rare but occasionally possible), we would like to know the gender of each animal (if you know it is a male; or a calico/tortoiseshell for instance is a female). At home you can weigh yourself with the cat on a scale, and then just yourself, and subtract the difference. You can also come in ahead of time and get a weight on your empty trap, and then write the weight down. You can also weigh your trap at home. Many clients take a sharpie and write the weight of the trap permanently on the metal. Caution: Do not attempt to pick up any feral/community cat if you do not routinely do so! (in which case it is probably more of a tame “community cat” anyway!)
- The person who drops off the cat for surgery each day will have to fill out the paperwork on each cat, every time they come, for each individual cat, and will also need to tell us which tests or procedures you wish to have done on each cat in addition to the spay or neuter. This saves time in the morning and helps us keep a record of what we are doing for feral cats in the area.
- The veterinarian reserves the right to decline surgery for any reason, including but not limited to: severe upper respiratory disease or breathing abnormalities, severe diarrhea, high fever if temperature is taken after injection for suspected sick animals, severe vomiting, extreme emaciation or paleness in gum color (anemia), jaundice (yellow gum color), giving birth in the clinic.
- If you have a feral cat that needs medical treatment or testing (such as an abscess or wound), this is also scheduled as a “feral cat” procedure and similar rules apply to scheduling.
- Ear tipping is an optional but highly recommended procedure, especially for cats free-roaming in the outdoor environment, so we can know which ones have previously been surgically altered and vaccinated. This may save the cat’s life one day!
- All cats will be required to have the Rabies vaccine by state law. It is HIGHLY recommended that you have each cat vaccinated for FVRCP, which includes Panleukopenia, a common viral infection in colonies that often results in sudden death.
Here at SPI we are dedicated to improving the lives of stray and feral cats, and encourage you to use our services to help you with the management of these cat populations. Thank you!
Tracie A Daniels, DVM
EXAMPLE OF A FELINE “EAR TIP”