How can you help your cat community?

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So you've heard all about the TRN program and it sounds great, but now what?

Pictured above are two cats my family takes care of. On the left, is "The Roll" and on the right is Miguelito. These two male cats showed up in our backyard together and we began feeding them. Eventually they made our backyard their home but were still timid towards us, as feral cats tend to be. I knew that the TNR program was something that I needed to do, but wasn't sure how to take the right steps toward it. I was delighted to discover that the city that I live in supports the practice of the TNR program.

I went to the animal shelter and filled out a form to get a trapping permit. They went over the rules and regulations such as not trapping when the weather reaches a certain temperature during the summer and winter. Next, I left a deposit of $50 to rent out a TNR trapping cage and they taught me how to use it. In the above video I demonstrate how to get the trap set up.

Next, I had to prep to get the cats ready to get trapped. I made sure to not feed them dinner the night before so that there would be a higher probability of them going inside the cage. I lined the trap with newspaper and put a bowl of food at the very end so they would step on the clasp that would close the cage. I hoped to catch them both on the same day, but it didn't workout that way. However, after a few hours I did trap The Roll. It was difficult to see him be scared/panicked and trying to get out of the cage, but I knew it was for his own good. I put a towel over the cage to help him feel more comfortable and then drove him to the shelter. The process afterwards was extremely simple. I turned him in and volunteered to pick him up when he was ready so I could release him in our backyard (usually the shelter will release them in the neighborhood themselves, but to be quite frank, I had grown attatched to the cats and just wanted to be safe), I got his case number and called to get updates on him within the next few days. When the shelter told me he was ready to be picked up, I returned with the cage to bring him back home and released him in the backyard. The next week, I trapped Miguelito and it was the same process. If you're trapping cats that you aren't exactly friendly with, I suggest to return them to the same spot where you trapped them so that they know where they are.

I'm happy to say that the cats still live in our backyard, and we've made great advancements with Miguelito and he is very vocal with his meows and even lets us pet him! This is huge to us because they were both equally terrified of us so it's really nice to see Miguelito more relaxed and have a safe space in our backyard. The Roll is still very cautious around us, which isn't surprisingly given that he was a bit older when he came by but Miguelito was younger so he was exposed to humans earlier in his life and made it more likely to socialize him. I was careful about the day in which I wanted to trap them because I didn't want the cats to be in the shelter too long. At this point, we had been feeding them for a few months and I was nervous that trapping them would undo all of the work we'd done to get them used to humans. I asked a lot of questions and the Mesquite shelter let me know that they send cats out to be neutered and spayed on Monday, so I trapped on Saturday since the shelter was closed on Sunday. By Wednesday, he was ready and the cats were reunited.

I have now made it a mission to continue to trap the other cats around the neighborhood. I've counted 18 stray (and mostly feral) cats in my street and kittens are constantly showing up. I know that it's a process and it takes time to catch the cats, but I think it's an important thing that needs to be done in order to help them be as healthy as they can be and to reduce aggresion they have towards each other. I recommend that others do the same, and I talk to neighbors about setting up traps around known locations in order to be able to get more cats in the TNR program. Many people are wary about the process of trapping the cats, it can be difficult to see them caged up, but it's important to remember that the cats are not hurt during the process and it's for their own good. Help make a difference and get a trapping permit today!

For more information, visit the Mesquite TNR website at: