Moving Feeding Stations To Nearby Site – Trapping not required
If negotiations fail for the cats to remain at their home site or the area is being demolished, under construction or there are other hazards present, moving the feeding stations and shelters to a nearby location could be a viable option. In many cases, the relocation off the property in question or on the same property to a safer location may be all that is required. Canvas the area and use your common sense. Talk with persons in the adjacent and surrounding areas as to the possibility of locating permanent feeding stations and sheltering.
Once again, leave For all Interested and Concerned Parties document and educational materials with your name and phone number or create your own document or flyer for a particular situation. If indicated, talk to managers, tenants, neighbors, homeowners and businesses in the area, but stay within a reasonable radius. In cases where the area is industrial or commercial, private homes or small businesses adjacent to the larger areas can be good places for permanent relocation. Be creative. Talk to other caretakers, your local pet rescue organizations, get advice and assistance. Try not to be intimidated. Be friendly, informative and persevere. More importantly, no matter how the circumstances present or how bleak they may look, always personally question everyone and make your own contacts and come to your own conclusions after the situation has been thoroughly assessed. We have had people tell us the situation was hopeless, no one would ever cooperate and so on. The results were just the opposite once we began personally talking to people in the area and presenting our case. Best to negotiate with persons who have the authority to make decisions.
Example: Over the past several years, we had been successfully feeding and caretaking a colony of 23 cats at an industrial location with businesses, offices, warehouses and garden areas. The cat were residing in the area where the offices were located where shelter was available and the caretaker who worked in one of the offices was feeding and managing. Everyone was spayed and neutered and no kittens had been born for many years. Management did not approve of the cats but we won the battle. Everything was good until the person caretaking left her employment. Within a few days we were issued an edict that all the cats had to be off the property within 30 days or they would be trapped and taken to the shelter. All feeding stations at the area were destroyed as well as anything the cats had been using.
We began negotiations with the businesses on the property and found the perfect location about ¾ of a block away on the same property (12 acres). Agreements were drawn up and we began the process.
We began to feed the cats about 50 feet from the original site. After a few days at this area, we moved another 20-30 feet and so on. In the meantime, we constructed five shelters (see our video on sheltering) and installed them at the
new site. Put treats inside. We also set up their permanent feeding stations discretely located and safe. Put some dry food in and sprinkled some treats around the area.
We continued to feed them a tasty wet food and about half way, most of the cats had found the new feeding and shelter and were not showing up at our feeding trail of 50 feet. We accomplished this in about three weeks. They never went back to the old location. You can be creative and do variations on this relocation. We do not advise crossing streets unless absolutely necessary. If doing a relocation along an alley to a destination, do the same process with homeowners.
Creating shelters from permanent structures at the site. We have placed heavy duty black plastic and waterproof tarps over wooden palates that were stacked up permanently and then slid cut up pieces of cardboard in between the openings on the bottom. The cats were already hiding in the wooden palates for shelter and this just made it waterproof and warmer. Everything was easily replaced. Refer to our Sheltering and Feeding Stations. NO HAY NEEDED IN LA!
This method does not require trapping. Circumstances vary and the decision as to how this is coordinated into the move should be made by the caretaker and all persons involved in the welfare of the cats.
Once any form of agreement has been negotiated, take the necessary steps to implement whatever has been agreed to. In some cases, a simply written agreement is appropriate or in other instances a more comprehensive one may be required. A written agreement can be a valuable reference when negotiating as an example of success and trustworthiness. It can also act to absolve the caretakers of any liability while caretaking. It outlines specifically what is being done and by whom and is a good accumulative resource record. Refer to Agreements.
Relocation To Areas When Trapping Is Required
If there are no other options and the cats must be removed from their present location, your only alternative will be to trap and relocate to a pre-negotiated and safe place. Trapping and relocation can be as close as a mile away to a residential area in backyards, to farms, horse ranches or any rural area or city area that is safe and a permanent caretaker and shelter is available. There are stringent guidelines for relocating feral cats.
There are numerous ways to make contact with persons who will accept feral cats for relocation. You can advertise in the local and rural newspapers, write letters to farms, horse ranches and other suitable areas. Put up flyers in pet stores, veterinary offices, markets and any place where the public can see the notice. Contact your local humane societies, rescue groups and other animal welfare agencies for contacts and information. Talk to all of your friends who may have backyards or know of a safe place to relocate.
Since feral cats form colonies (families) that are very close, a lot will depend upon how many will need to be relocated. It is always better to relocate at least 2 together from a colony, if not more, depending upon how much space is available. Relocation is worrisome and stressful for all concerned and should only be considered if all else fails.
If the cats have not been spayed or neutered, this will need to be done prior to relocation. Refer to Instructions for Humane Trapping of Feral or Rescued Cats and Kittens.
After you have made contact with a prospective relocation area, you will need to go there and negotiate an agreement as to where and how the cats will be cared for. Inquiries as to what dangers there are at the location, such as coyotes and other predators is important. Relocation to places where the cats will be preyed upon is not acceptable.
During the journey to their new home, make the trip as stress free as possible. Do not play loud music or create a lot of noise while traveling with the cats. Be sure there is enough ventilation in their carriers, crates or whatever enclosure you have them in for the trip. Under no circumstances put a cat in the trunk or open bed of a truck. They must be protected from any condition that will create stress. Depending upon the length of their journey, be sure they are provided with water and food, even though they may not partake. Make them as comfortable as possible and keep them covered appropriately to lessen their fear of being enclosed and in a strange environment. Check on them frequently to be sure they are not suffering from car sickness or hyperventilating. Cats do not adjust easily to change and this change is a very serious one for them to adjust to. If they have recently had surgery, make sure they have recovered sufficiently for the journey. They are being taken to an entirely strange and frightening place where there are no familiar smells or landmarks to boundary their territory. They will be enclosed for 4 weeks or more in a strange place that is totally different from what they have experienced. Every effort should be made to make their journey and confinement experience as calm and protective as possible.
Their new home must be adequately prepared before their arrival. The four week confinement should be in a safe, enclosed, water proof and escape proof dwelling, on the premises. It can be a guestroom, laundry room, garage, barn, out-buildings, storage areas, spare rooms or any place with light and good ventilation. Keep in mind that the place where the cats will be confined should also be their safe haven when released. They will need to have access to and from this location. Litter boxes will be required. Create safe places for them. If in a small room, place bedding and boxes for them to hid and sleep in. Cardboard boxes or carriers with blankets and bedding make good hiding places and are warm for sleeping. They can also be covered with blankets or towels to make them more cozy and safer for hiding. If they are in a large area, put their boxes, carriers, litter box and food in a more confined space, rather than scattering it about. Keep everything away from the door and away from drafts during the winter. When entering and leaving the area, create a barrier in front of you and behind you, such as a piece of cardboard, towel, etc. Enter and leave carefully to see that no one escapes. Most of the time the cats will hide and stay as far away as possible, but there may be a brave one who will try to escape. It is best to do the feeding and cleaning during the daylight hours.
A trap should be available at the relocation home along with trapping instructions.
If a cat escapes out of the room, create a safe and dry shelter with special wet food and water next to the place where it escaped from. Put as many things with their smells on it, perhaps the carrier or crate used during the trip. Re-trapping the cat should be attempted right away for the four- week period of confinement. We had one cat escape and as a result, the time of confinement for everyone was extended until the re-introduced cat had stayed the four weeks. However, no one seemed to mind, as it was safe, warm and cozy with big windows for sunning.
However, if there is no success in re-trapping, be sure that the above noted instructions for feeding and shelter are provided for the escapee. Also, be alert to sighting the cat as it may find a new place to hide. If you manage to locate the cat, provide food and shelter near the area where it is hiding, since the food and water is enclosed in the room with the other cats and there would be no access to it. Depending upon how long a time it has been since it escaped, you might also try setting the trap and if successful, return it to the new relocation holding room, with a little longer stay for those already there.
One relocation that we accomplished resulted in a little gray tabby (very) feral female named Gracie not wanting to leave her new found home (the bridle room for horses) where she had spent a few more than the usual required four weeks. The cat door was opened, then the big door, people came and went, horses walked by, no amount of coaxing with food or anything else could get Gracie to leave the bridle room. When all was quiet, she would sun herself by the big window and when people came, she would hide. But, she never left the bridle room. Finally, after three months, a big towel was wrapped around her and she was pushed and squeezed into a carrier and taken to a beautiful guesthouse furnished with priceless antiques. There were eight other special felines living in this luxurious (indoor only) guesthouse. Gracie has lived there for three years now and still no one can touch her. She sleeps on a very expensive antique bed and is quite content. However, the other cats at the relocation site, after their confinement period was up, flew out the door and have remained on the property in barns and in other safe dwellings. Not Gracie, she had her eyes on that guesthouse and lives there in absolute luxury and safety. We call the good lady at Christmas to thank her and hear all about Gracie.
A vital aspect of relocation is the new caretaker. The new caretaker or caretakers should be totally committed and responsible in assuring the feral cats will be taken care of with compassion, patience and understanding. The caretaker will be feeding and tending to the needs of the cats and it is important that they spend some time talking with them at least three times a day. They will soon become accustomed to the smells and voices associated with their food and new home and this will reassure them, even though they may never come out of hiding. The objective is to provide a safe and lifetime home for the feral cats who have been relocated. After they have been allowed out of their initial space following the four week period of confinement, it is essential that at least one, and if possible two small openings be available for them to enter and leave their original shelter area as they please. They will become frightened easily and will require easy access to the only safe place they know. They may find another safe shelter area, if there are several buildings on the property, such as barns, garages, etc., but it is best to let them decide.
Once released, the new caretakers should observe them as closely as possible, keep a daily head count and watch for any signs of problems. Plentiful wet food along with dry food on a daily basis is a necessity. The food should be of good quality and fresh water available at all times. If they are participating in rodent control, they will still require daily feeding with nourishing food. Contrary to popular opinion, cats cannot remain healthy on a diet of rodents. Many will not eat them unless near starvation.
Most ranches and farms have dogs living on the premises. It is important the dogs see the cats as residents and are not allowed to harm them once they are out of their shelter to roam around. Carefully evaluate any situation where dogs are present and the possibility of them harming the cats, before you decide on the relocation. It may be necessary to confine the dogs for a reasonable period of time, to allow the cats to become accustomed to their new surroundings, before being confronted with the dogs. Feral cats do not take kindly to dogs as they have been living out of doors in unsafe conditions, and are exposed to all types of dangers, including dogs that kill cats and kittens. It will be a big enough adjustment for them to familiarize themselves with their new home, without being chased or frightened unnecessarily, even if the dogs would never harm them. The cats do not know this. If there are gardeners working on the property, they should be informed about the use of harmful pesticides and discontinue use where the cats are residing. Persons on the premises need to be notified of the cats living there and every effort made to create a safe and compassionate environment.
The persons or organizations who brought the cats to their new home should be in contact with the new caretaker during the weeks while in confinement and then weekly following release, to be sure they are all accounted for and adjusting well. Continued contact is needed and during the years they live in their new home. Communication between all concerned parties is essential.