Caught a previously spayed cat

milktea

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There are a handful of stray cats that I feed on my porch for the past few weeks. I know for sure at least a few of them are homeless. I can see some sleeping in the bushes from my window. I heard them during the summer screeching and probably mating so I decided to do TNR. I bought traps.

I caught one last night and brought it to the spay/neuter clinic this morning. When I picked up the cat, it turns out she was already spayed before and had a microchip!! I feel like I wasted so much effort and money ($63!!) on a cat that was already fixed. The microchip wasn’t registered to anybody, they said. But they still gave the vaccines, deworm, and flea meds like I asked. And the cat did have anesthesia since they only discovered the prior spay after shaving her belly.

Is there something I can do to prevent this in the future? I know I could buy a chip scanner but they’re expensive and I think you have to get really close to scan the cat? I’ll be scared of getting scratched by opening the trap, etc.
 

stephanietx

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The vet can ear tip spayed/neutered kitties so you'll know they've been fixed. My first cat was a stray and we found out she was spayed when we took her to be spayed. It could be that she is used to humans and would make a good indoor kitty.
 
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milktea

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The vet can ear tip spayed/neutered kitties so you'll know they've been fixed. My first cat was a stray and we found out she was spayed when we took her to be spayed. It could be that she is used to humans and would make a good indoor kitty.
Yes she has an eartip now. It’s just really discouraging because this was my first trap. Not sure I can continue if I keep spending this money on cats that are already fixed. I have no funding, just doing this out of my own pocket. And I have no idea whether other cats are already fixed, if the previous owner didn’t eartip and just let the cat go. The local TNR program in my city has disabled requests for help on their website.
 

jcat

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A good chip scanner works if the cat is in a trap, though you generally have to get it within about 6 inches of the cat's neck. They're very expensive, though.

Around here vets, shelters, and police stations will scan dogs and cats for free if you bring them in. That might be worth asking about.
 

moxiewild

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Yes she has an eartip now. It’s just really discouraging because this was my first trap. Not sure I can continue if I keep spending this money on cats that are already fixed. I have no funding, just doing this out of my own pocket. And I have no idea whether other cats are already fixed, if the previous owner didn’t eartip and just let the cat go. The local TNR program in my city has disabled requests for help on their website.
If it makes you feel better, this isn’t common. It does happen, because stray cats and many semi-ferals used to be someone’s pet and so may have been fixed at some point. Ferals are a much safer bet where that is concerned.

The other thing to consider is that you very well could have trapped someone’s current or lost pet, too. I find this to be more common than trapping a stray or semi-feral who’s been fixed before.

If I trap a stray who is friendly, I usually try to check myself. With boys, it’s fairly easy to tell (and depending on how it was done, it can be blatantly obvious).

If it’s a female, it’s a lot more difficult, unfortunately. Females can acquire scars similar to spay scars just from mating, fighting, and all sorts of things. So often the only way to know for sure would be further diagnostics to see what’s in there.

The forms at my spay/neuter clinic specifically ask what you want them to do if the cat appears to have a spay scar (return the cat, further diagnostics, or move forward with surgery to either confirm spay or spay if intact).

I assure you that you got off to a very unusual start, and that this is not a common occurrence. It certainly is frustrating and I’ve had the same exact thing as you happen - spayed with an unregistered chip.

Try to find out who has outdoor cats in your neighborhood. This can help narrow it down and make it less likely that this will happen again.

I’m sorry you had such a bad first run. I hope it doesn’t discourage you. 99% of the time, this won’t be an issue.

Is there a more affordable clinic near you? That really is quite a lot for not even having had a spay.
 

moxiewild

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A good chip scanner works if the cat is in a trap, though you generally have to get it within about 6 inches of the cat's neck. They're very expensive, though.

Around here vets, shelters, and police stations will scan dogs and cats for free if you bring them in. That might be worth asking about.
This is s good idea. I would ask the clinic you go to if they have a scanner and if they can scan the cat prior to doing anything else. They may oblige if the cats temperament allows them to do so easily. However, sufficiently scanning a scared cat in a trap is not very easy or reliable.

And keep in mind, many people fix their cats but don’t chip. Most of the cats I’ve trapped who have already been fixed did not have a chip.

Likewise, people also chip but don’t fix.

So the presence of a chip doesn’t necessarily mean anything. And it’s probably more worth doing with females rather than males, and with friendly cats in general.
 

kittychick

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I totally understand your frustration - - -we too do alot of TNR work (and like you, with not alot of money!) and in the beginning, we caught one that was previously fixed but had no ear tip (many vets also do a small tattoo - but most of the ones I've caught I wouldn't have been able to get close enough to check for a teeny tattoo!). And this was a kitty that was TNR'd by someone on the street behind me. She didn't believe in ear tipping - - but I explained what happened to us with her non-ear tipped feral, and now she goes to a clinic where they will ear tip (so in the end I actually made a friend with a fellow TNR believer, which has come in handy - - since now she even splits the cost often!) Anyway - like you, after all the stress, money, time, etc. it was tempting to throw my hands up and say "someone else can do this." It's extra hard when you're doing something out of the goodness of your heart that takes time and money - which are often a rare commodity - and end up feeling like it was a waste of both. But - - -as many have said already - - - please don't throw in the towel. I know it's tempting. Lots of people may comment on kitties in situations like you're seeing, but rare are people like you who do more than just talk...people who actually DO.

As noted by moxiewild moxiewild , and judging from my years of work and volunteering for various shelters, sadly, chipping is still fairly rare, and MANY cats who have chips haven't been fixed. And more often then not, the chip leads nowhere as phones are disconnected, owners won't claim them, etc. Sometimes a chip will lead you back to a shelter, and many shelters (if the cat is friendly and the shelter is no kill) will both take them back in AND do the digging on whether or not the kitty is a dump or - - rarity of rarities - -the shelter learns the cat had slipped out and a family can be reunited! And the one you caught - - I know you were obviously hoping to catch one you could fix - - but the fact that this kitty now has important vaccines to give it the extra boost it needs to survive and be as healthy as possible. So while it wasn't the outcome you were looking for - - it definitely wasn't a complete waste of time. (and I may have missed this - - but did the clinic make a call on the chip? They certainly should have!)

And as noted above - - our spay/neuter clinic also will let you note that you want them to check for a spay scar and/or tattoo if possible before going too far down the road. Tell them what you just went through - - and they'll likely be very understanding and happy to check as much as they can before shaving as they're thrilled to have people who are out there trying to "stem the tide" of babies! And with males, it's usually visually apparent if they've been neutered. Just talk to the clinic next time before the kitty goes back to be fixed.

And yes - - most shelters/humane societies/vets will scan for a chip for free (you'd want to call first) - -but as noted, it doesn't mean at all that they're fixed. You did just hit the 1 in a 100 that is fixed and chipped - - - I can fairly confidently say you'll likely never catch another one! (And you were right to not open the trap yourself!).

Can you also set up a shelter or two? You'll find ways to set up shelters for them in the articles section of this wonderful site. You can also see some options on this Alley Cat Allies page - Community Cat Shelter Options Gallery . We've done MANY of the "double rubbermaid" type (some spay/neuter clinics even have them for sale at a very low cost).

This forlorn feline group needs someone like you - with a kind heart and willingness to make their lives better. Do what you can - - - anything you can do for them is better then the nothing they're getting right now (except the food you're feeding them). And if you feel discouraged - - just jump back on this site and there are lots of wonderful people here who'll be happy to lend an ear and offer a bit of advice. :)

Keep us posted on how you're doing with your group!
 

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If it makes you feel better, $63 for all vaccines and flea treatment is not a bad price. . .those things usually cost around $20 each (around here anyway) at full price.

Are any of the cats friendly? How long have you lived there? Did you notice any of them having kittens last year? It is really hard to tell with females so that's always a challenge :/.
 

jefferd18

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Can I ask why you’re against TNR?

OP still significantly helped this cat.

This was not criticism levied at the OP, I didn't even know that they were using the TNR method. My response was for the previous person who obviously had practice TNR with the cat that OP had recently caught.

Why I don't like it?

Yes, the cat can not continue to reproduce but that same cat is tossed off to fend for his/herself. They will still face illnesses, diseases, cars, dogs, coyotes, mean people, blistering hot or freezing cold temperatures. Jeff was the target of TNR and she was at her wit's end when I found her.

This is why I don't always agree with conservationists. What is good for the species is not necessarily good for the individual animal.
 

fionasmom

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Just to give you my stats....three previously spayed females in the last 20 years. Everyone else was not fixed.
 

moxiewild

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This was not criticism levied at the OP, I didn't even know that they were using the TNR method. My response was for the previous person who obviously had practice TNR with the cat that OP had recently caught.

Why I don't like it?

Yes, the cat can not continue to reproduce but that same cat is tossed off to fend for his/herself. They will still face illnesses, diseases, cars, dogs, coyotes, mean people, blistering hot or freezing cold temperatures. Jeff was the target of TNR and she was at her wit's end when I found her.

This is why I don't always agree with conservationists. What is good for the species is not necessarily good for the individual animal.
The majority of people who TNR continue to manage the colony, though. Meaning the cats are provided food, water, shelter, and vet care - even treating for parasites when able.

Even if doing TNR-only with no follow up support, the cat is less likely to aggravate other humans who may otherwise seek to “fix” the problem, they will not be stressed by hormonal urges, they will fight less, they will roam less (therefore decreasing their chances of running into other cats and predators territories, as well as vehicles), they’ll be at a decreased risk for things like pyometra, cancer, etc, and they will receive all the benefits
of vaccinations.

It also prevents the birth of other cats who will also grow up to live that same harsh life if they don’t die terribly in kittenhood first.

All of these things are significantly beneficial directly for the individual cat, as well as the species.

The alternative is doing nothing. There are not enough homes for all of the homeless cats, and virtually none for very timid strays, semi ferals, and ferals. And that’s not even touching on the money involved in doing “more”.

So the alternative to TNR is to do nothing, which is significantly worse for the individual cat and incredibly detrimental for the species and local population, and therefore each and every individual offspring they go on to produce.

So yes, it is beneficial for the individual cat even when TNR is all you can do. And most people don’t just TNR, they offer continued colony support.
 
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Willowy

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Yes, the cat can not continue to reproduce but that same cat is tossed off to fend for his/herself.
It's not supposed to be an option for tame cats (although sometimes it is the only option, sadly). And the feral cats already live there and are already "fending for themselves". It's not like colony caretakers are importing cats.

What would you prefer be done with feral cats?
So the alternative to TNR is to do nothing,
That or killing them.
 

fionasmom

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The majority of ferals I have TNRed were entirely wild. If they continued to live around my property I provided food and shelter, often for years. Most were never retrappable but the generations of kittens who were not born was a huge trade off for me.
 

jefferd18

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It's not supposed to be an option for tame cats (although sometimes it is the only option, sadly). And the feral cats already live there and are already "fending for themselves". It's not like colony caretakers are importing cats.

What would you prefer be done with feral cats?

That or killing them.




I never thought it was an option for tame cats (lets hope not).

I don't like TNR for several reasons: 1. it is not effective because they do not operate in an enclosed system and cannot spay or neuter a sufficient number of cats to affect feral cat numbers at the population level. 2. It has a tendency to leave some really fantastic cats, like Jeff, behind to fend for themselves.

Now, as much as I don't care for the TNR approach, I do applaud the people who use it because it shows to me that they really do care about cats and are willing to work their asses off for them.

I would never advocate to ever kill a feral cat- what they are doing now in Australia is beyond despicable.

I would prefer that the cats who can not become part of a family become part of a barn program, people need their barn cats so they will be taken very good care of in that atmosphere. I would also like to get the public a lot more informed when it comes to feral cats, starting in Elementary School.
 

Willowy

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I don't like TNR for several reasons: 1. it is not effective because they do not operate in an enclosed system and cannot spay or neuter a sufficient number of cats to affect feral cat numbers at the population level.
It has affected the population level though. And while it doesn't afect the population a LOT, because most feral kittens die, it does prevent a lot of suffering.
I would prefer that the cats who can not become part of a family become part of a barn program, people need their barn cats so they will be taken very good care of in that atmosphere.
That's not really a possibility for ferals who live in a city. And barn cats aren't as well-cared-for as one would hope, most of the time :/.
I would also like to get the public a lot more informed when it comes to feral cats, starting in Elementary School
What would you inform them about, if you don't approve of TNR?

I'm confused about what you think the other viable options are.
 

moxiewild

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I never thought it was an option for tame cats (lets hope not).

I don't like TNR for several reasons: 1. it is not effective because they do not operate in an enclosed system and cannot spay or neuter a sufficient number of cats to affect feral cat numbers at the population level. 2. It has a tendency to leave some really fantastic cats, like Jeff, behind to fend for themselves.

Now, as much as I don't care for the TNR approach, I do applaud the people who use it because it shows to me that they really do care about cats and are willing to work their asses off for them.

I would never advocate to ever kill a feral cat- what they are doing now in Australia is beyond despicable.

I would prefer that the cats who can not become part of a family become part of a barn program, people need their barn cats so they will be taken very good care of in that atmosphere. I would also like to get the public a lot more informed when it comes to feral cats, starting in Elementary School.
When there is no place for a tame cat to go, it then becomes an option.

Look, I even advocate for TNR for stray and feral dogs, so clearly I am biased here.

In fact, I strongly believe resources in the rescue community should be concentrated on “TNR first” efforts, general spay/neuter education/access, and pulling puppies/kittens for homes and animals otherwise unfit for release. This, and with the additional goal of colony and pack caretakers being established for ongoing support if at all possible.

Only once enough of the population is sterilized, should we then focus efforts on finding homes for all, with continued maintenance TNR.

Why?

Because so long as we focus on an adoption first approach, it means there are less and less resources for low cost/free/accessible spay/neuter services (for pets as well as strays/ferals), and emergency medical.

And the cats and dogs just continue to reproduce.

Any way you go about it, a large portion of these animals are going to suffer. There is absolutely no way to get around the numbers at this point. Most of these cats will suffer no matter what we do.

The only question is how we can mitigate it best, and reduce those numbers long term so future generations do not have to experience the same suffering that cats/dogs do now.

A TNR first approach means a lot of cats will continue to live hard lives - but it won’t be as hard as it would have been otherwise had they not spayed/neutered and vaccinated (and likely with ongoing support, but it’s still beneficial regardless).

Eventually, enough will be fixed for the population to stabilize and slowly wittle down to what the environment can appropriately support. And this overall smaller population left is far closer to the amount of homes and resources potentially available.

But continuing on an adoption first approach means that only a select few relative to the population get to win the lottery and find good homes/good barns, while some have their lives made easier by TNR efforts - however most will continue living with the full extent of suffering without any help or support whatsoever, and remain unfixed because the resources are simply not available. And as a direct consequence, the cycle will continue on for generations, and become worse over time.

Yes, individual cats will suffer, even with high impact TNR - but far more cats suffer individually without it, and TNR directly contributes to the prevention of suffering of countless future individuals who would otherwise exist.

You cannot place your head in the sand with all this talk about homes - there are not enough homes, period.

And of the people who actually want a pet, not all should actually have a pet or can afford a pet, or otherwise keep up with their care. Not all barn homes are good or appropriate, most aren’t.

There are not enough homes. There never will be relative to the amount of strays and ferals that currently exist, even if you exclude the ferals and include only tame cats.

The pet overpopulation problem cannot be fixed through adoption. Only sterilization can do that.

What happened with your Jeff? Was she a feral or a stray?
 

jefferd18

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It has affected the population level though. And while it doesn't afect the population a LOT, because most feral kittens die, it does prevent a lot of suffering.

That's not really a possibility for ferals who live in a city. And barn cats aren't as well-cared-for as one would hope, most of the time :/.

What would you inform them about, if you don't approve of TNR?

I'm confused about what you think the other viable options are.




The viable options always start by getting the information out to people, especially when they are young. Most young people, especially children, are even aware of the feral cats- how many- what lead to this problem- what they go through- what we can do to help- etc.. For example: I became very involved in saving wolves after a group with two wolves came to visit our school. I was nine at the time but it left a big impression on me.

We would all have to be consistently involved in TNR for it to even begin to make a dent in the population. There is an estimated 70 million feral cats in this country with females coming into heat every few weeks in warm weather. It takes close to 11 years of diligence and hard work to completely erase one cat colony. If you neuter a male, it will only be replaced by the next dominant male. And since a vasectomy does not completely erase all hormones you will still have a male who will fight for females even though he can not produce offspring.

There are no doubt success stories and yes it does reduce suffering, but as I mentioned we would all have to get involved before we would see real progress.

Why wouldn't it be possible for city cats to enter the Barn Program? There are also businesses who are wanting to participate. When I lived in Boston most grocery and convent stores had cats roaming through them. Being a harbor city, Boston had a big problem with rats.
 

jefferd18

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When there is no place for a tame cat to go, it then becomes an option.

Look, I even advocate for TNR for stray and feral dogs, so clearly I am biased here.

In fact, I strongly believe resources in the rescue community should be concentrated on “TNR first” efforts, general spay/neuter education/access, and pulling puppies/kittens for homes and animals otherwise unfit for release. This, and with the additional goal of colony and pack caretakers being established for ongoing support if at all possible.

Only once enough of the population is sterilized, should we then focus efforts on finding homes for all, with continued maintenance TNR.

Why?

Because so long as we focus on an adoption first approach, it means there are less and less resources for low cost/free/accessible spay/neuter services (for pets as well as strays/ferals), and emergency medical.

And the cats and dogs just continue to reproduce.

Any way you go about it, a large portion of these animals are going to suffer. There is absolutely no way to get around the numbers at this point. Most of these cats will suffer no matter what we do.

The only question is how we can mitigate it best, and reduce those numbers long term so future generations do not have to experience the same suffering that cats/dogs do now.

A TNR first approach means a lot of cats will continue to live hard lives - but it won’t be as hard as it would have been otherwise had they not spayed/neutered and vaccinated (and likely with ongoing support, but it’s still beneficial regardless).

Eventually, enough will be fixed for the population to stabilize and slowly wittle down to what the environment can appropriately support. And this overall smaller population left is far closer to the amount of homes and resources potentially available.

But continuing on an adoption first approach means that only a select few relative to the population get to win the lottery and find good homes/good barns, while some have their lives made easier by TNR efforts - however most will continue living with the full extent of suffering without any help or support whatsoever, and remain unfixed because the resources are simply not available. And as a direct consequence, the cycle will continue on for generations, and become worse over time.

Yes, individual cats will suffer, even with high impact TNR - but far more cats suffer individually without it, and TNR directly contributes to the prevention of suffering of countless future individuals who would otherwise exist.

You cannot place your head in the sand with all this talk about homes - there are not enough homes, period.

And of the people who actually want a pet, not all should actually have a pet or can afford a pet, or otherwise keep up with their care. Not all barn homes are good or appropriate, most aren’t.

There are not enough homes. There never will be relative to the amount of strays and ferals that currently exist, even if you exclude the ferals and include only tame cats.

The pet overpopulation problem cannot be fixed through adoption. Only sterilization can do that.

What happened with your Jeff? Was she a feral or a stray?



Hi moxiewild! This is my response to Willow

The viable options always start by getting the information out to people, especially when they are young. Most young people, especially children, are even aware of the feral cats- how many- what lead to this problem- what they go through- what we can do to help- etc.. For example: I became very involved in saving wolves after a group with two wolves came to visit our school. I was nine at the time but it left a big impression on me.

We would all have to be consistently involved in TNR for it to even begin to make a dent in the population. There is an estimated 70 million feral cats in this country with females coming into heat every few weeks in warm weather. It takes close to 11 years of diligence and hard work to completely erase one cat colony. If you neuter a male, it will only be replaced by the next dominant male. And since a vasectomy does not completely erase all hormones you will still have a male who will fight for females even though he can not produce offspring.

There are no doubt success stories and yes it does reduce suffering, but as I mentioned we would all have to get involved before we would see real progress.

Why wouldn't it be possible for city cats to enter the Barn Program? There are also businesses who are wanting to participate. When I lived in Boston most grocery and convent stores had cats roaming through them. Being a harbor city, Boston had a big problem with rats.
 
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