[♪ music ♪] You might be surprised to find out that 80% of kittens born every year are actually born outside. I think that’s because animal welfare has done a great job of educating people about the importance of spay-neuter for pet cats, But—what? Oh. Shh! Are we about to catch this cat? [beep] As a kitten rescuer, I am constantly getting kittens off the street. People find kittens outside and they bring them into the shelter or to a rescue or me, and they don’t necessarily see the bigger picture. So when you find a kitten outside, that means that there is a breeding colony of cats there. Kittens don’t just materialize or get dropped out of the sky from a stork. These kittens have a family that is breeding. That’s why it’s so important if you’re doing kitten rescue that you’re doing the other side, which is trap-neuter-return. Trap-neuter-return is where community cats who live outside in the neighborhood are trapped using a humane trap. They are brought to the clinic to be sterilized, vaccinated, and ear-tipped, and then they’re returned to their outdoor colony. This gives the cats a chance to live out their full lives with the help of a colony caregiver, but they are not going to have anymore kittens. The neighborhood I’m standing in right now was a recent call that I got about two kittens in need. – All the time, it’s like the one cat just keeps having kittens and kittens and kittens, and I just keep finding homes, and, you know, all my friends are so tired. Like, “No, no.” Nobody wants a cat. The one I call Mama Kitty, she just keeps having litter after litter after litter and, like, I will feed her and watch her eat and I can see babies moving around in her tummy. We’ve exhausted everything we can do to even find homes, you know. – When we showed up to get the kittens, we were only able to locate one of them. And he was a little white kitten who was on death’s door. This little kitten was with us for only an hour. We rushed him to the hospital and he was not viable and he had to be euthanized. It was devastating. I only knew this kitten for one hour and there I was crying, sobbing, watching this kitten be euthanized. This was a completely preventable situation through sterilizing the cats outside. The next day, we came back and we were able to locate the brother, a little orange tabby. That kitten was not in great shape either. He was covered in fleas and he had worms pouring out of him. However, he was viable. We were able to get him home, wash the fleas off of him, give him flea treatment, give him dewormer, and he flourished in our care. Hello! [kitten purring] Because we got him when he was about six weeks old, we were able to get him socialized, get him healthy, and get him adopted! These are kind of the things that you see when you’re working in a colony like this. You see really, really sad things, high mortality of kittens on the street who cannot survive in these conditions, and then you see some kittens who do survive and maybe even thrive. Those kittens, if they grow up, they become community cats. The community cats who live here are just kittens who were born in bushes who nobody came and rescued. We were able to stop that cycle for Flapjack by getting him into a home, but really ending the cycle for the whole family means coming back to the colony and getting everyone sterilized. So we’ve been able to locate the parents. We have eyes on the mama cat who is a fluffy tortie, and the dad cat who is a buff cat, And we’re hoping that we’re going to be able to catch both of them. The goal here is really to make sure that no more kittens are born in these bushes or under these cars. We want to get all of them sterilized so that we don’t have more situations like Flapjack and his brother, Butter. People in the neighborhood care about these cats. – Yeah, there’s several people. Our neighbor here will feed them. They will feed them. We’ll feed them. – They’re cared for and they’re cared about. – Yes. – They just are breeding. – Yes. They’re giving us more kittens to end up taking care of. – Yeah. More kittens than you need. – Yes, more kittens than we want. – I hope that this video will encourage people to get active in this way. If you care about kittens, community cats are the other side of the coin, and you can’t just be taking kittens off the street perpetually without addressing the origin of where they’re from. [rustling]
[♪ background music resumes ♪] So we are ready to trap. We have lots of different kinds of bait. We have… mackerel… sardines and oil, lots of stinky stuff that we hope will attract all the cats. We have some wet food, some tuna, and we even brought some dry food because a lot of cats actually will be easier to track with dry food because it’s oftentimes what they’re used to. So hopefully something we have here will be… stinky enough to get these cats to come out and go into the traps. I’ve seen at least 3 or 4 under this. [tab breaks]
– RIP. – [laughing] Sardine juice. You know, at a certain point, I just end up picking up meat with my bare hands. It’s fine. You can wear gloves if you fancy, but… so I’ve been here for like 15 minutes and I’ve already managed to saturate my hair with tuna juice, which is… great. It’s a really, really nice look. (sarcasm) The new hotness this season? Dip your hair in tuna juice. All the cats will love you. And no one will want to be friends with you. – Andrew: Chunky. – This is nasty. (disgusted) Eeeeuuuuuugh! – Andrew: How much would you give me to drink that? – Euuugh, that is like a whole… bleeeeeh! Things I do for cats. Gross. Always make sure when you’re trapping that the back is latched shut. Nothing worse than catching a cat and… the cat is able to escape because the back is not locked. When you’re baiting traps, I highly recommend that you put a large amount of meat at the very, very back, as far back as possible. You want them to step on the trip plate. So it has to be really far back, but I also recommend putting some tiny little crumbs at the front. This is a really good incentive to them because they can smell the food, but once they taste it, they’re not gonna be able to resist… walking towards the back. So you’ll see when I trap I will leave a little trail, and the cat will come up and eat a small bit, eat a small bit, see the amount in the back, and then walk right back there and set off the trap. [trap slams shut]
(whispering) Yes! Okay, got him! We got Flapjack’s brother! There he is! Okay. So this cat is already ear-tipped. If you see a cat outside that already has part of the ear missing, that means the cat has been through a TNR program already. She’s good to go. An ear tip is basically like a hall pass that says, “Hey, I’m good.” And you are pretty friendly, huh? She’s licking the tuna juice off of my hand. If you catch a cat that looks like that, you just open the trap up and let them back out. Oh my god. Is this Winnie? You are chunky! [cat hissing]
Oh, okay. Okay. Very chunky. – Andrew: “Bring me the foods!” – That is Flapjack’s mom and she has had three litters of kittens already this year. Hopefully today we’re gonna catch that cat and she will not be having any more babies in that bush. That’s the dream. Hi! You got caught! Hi! Oh, it’s the little smoke— younger one. Alright, so what’s that, three? Nice! I’m so happy this is going well! [yelling in background]
(to someone off camera) You got—? You got another one? We’ve caught… We’ve caught four cats so far. That’s pretty good! So a lot of the time, I see people trap by putting traps out and then leaving. I don’t recommend that for a couple reasons. One, when you set out a trap, it’s a liability. You don’t know who’s gonna go in there, you don’t know who’s going to find that animal. So you want to stay with the traps when you’re trapping. But the second reason that I recommend staying with the traps is I don’t just set a trap out and leave it there. I’m the whole time strategizing. So as we’re trapping we’re looking around and noticing, “Okay, there’s cats hanging out under that car or by that fence or under this trailer.” We might notice that more cats are getting caught in one area than in another and we’re actually moving the traps around and being really strategic while we’re doing it. So trapping to me is a very active activity, it’s not something that you just put out and leave. You want to be… really thinking about it the whole time. So far we’re doing pretty good, but we might end up moving some things around. So let’s go see who else we have. Who’d we get, Andrew?
– It’s my girl. Hannah: Hiiii! Okay, okay, okay.
Andrew: Hi big mama! Alright, alright. Oh, she hefty. – She hefty? – She is. – She’s eating well? Well, guess who I caught? Hannah: Luna! Andrew: What you doing, mama? [upset mew, Hannah laughing] You got your hall pass on, girlfriend. She’s like, “Before I leave, can I have some of this fish?” Here you go. Come on, you’re free.
[more upset mewing] A community cat is an unowned, free-roaming cat who lives in the community. They are part of the community just like you and me. Community cats might have 1, 2, or 10 caregivers, and they can be very loved by their community members, even though they are not cats who want to be indoors. And she’s a great example of the distinction between a community cat and a feral cat. “Community cat” is all-encompassing. It means all the cats who live in the community. “Feral,” on the other hand, is a behavior. Feral is an indication that the cat is unsocialized to humans. You can see that Luna here is not unsocialized to humans. She is fairly comfortable with us, though she might not want to be an indoor cat. A lot of the community cats in this neighborhood ARE feral, however. We are getting growled at and hissed at, and these cats don’t want to be around us at all. So there are a lot of different ways to be a cat and we have to meet all of these cats exactly where they are. Luna’s having the best day of her life. [Hannah laughing] Oh my god, I want to cry! I’m so happy! We got the mamaaaa! Hiiiiii! This is the one who’s having all the babies in the neighborhood. Yes! We know that she’s had at least four litters of kittens and that most of the cats in this colony are her babies! Yeah, we got to go get the dad now. That’s pretty good. All right, so we got six… cats this morning. We’re gonna go back at dusk when the cats are active again and see if we can’t get a couple more. I feel very good about this. Hannah: Hey daddy! Andrew: Papa Jack! Hannah: We got him! We had to come back at nighttime to get you, but we got you! Yeah! He’s like, “Aw, man.” Woman off camera: No more babies! Hannah: Yep. No more babies for you. No more babies, no more balls. Okay. Heading for the spay-neuter clinic! Let’s go inside! [cat meows] You ready to get neutered? [cat meows] I think that’s a yes.
[cat meows again] [♪ happy, upbeat background music ♪] Hannah: Come on! There ya go, mama! If you’re feeding cats who live outside in your neighborhood, please make sure you’re getting them trapped, neutered, and returned. You can hop on Google and do a search for the city or county you live in with the terms TNR and find groups that can help in your area. Don’t delay. It’s much easier to trap and spay two cats than it is to trap and spay ten, and it’s much easier to do 10 cats than it is to do 20. So if you feed cats, make sure you’re getting them fixed as well. Thank you. [♪ happy, upbeat background music ♪]