Protocol for after a Feral's spay?

Kristin_Happy Texan

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How do things work after a feral cat is spayed at a shelter? I assumed the shelter looks after her for a day, or two tops, and then we release her back outside to recover on her own. (Continuing to feed/water/have outdoor sheltering options open to her of course).

This cat will NOT accept coming into our house. Not gonna happen. She's terrified of us even when she sees us outside. She might observe us, but she's doing that from several yards away and hiding behind something. I've never even heard her make a sound. Not one time. She just runs like the wind.

Her kittens are even more terrified of us than she is. One saw me today, while it was in the main part of the barn, and it literally tried clawing a hole in the wall in the corner to escape from me. I'd never seen anything like it in my life. It was absolutely awful to witness.

But even the Mom cat is so feral that the sounds in a house alone - even silence - would terrify her. Does anyone know, from experience, how it works in some shelters? Will they look after a feral for 1 or 2 days after a spay if you make an extra donation to the shelter or something like that? I really want this cat cared for after her surgery, but I know we're not the ones to do it. We don't have the experience and she's VERY feral. We can't keep her incision clean or anything like that, and her preferred space right now is lying in the dirt, beneath our storage building. It's VERY hot and humid right now, too. Summers are so awful here.

The shelter has been really great so far by the way. They agreed to take in all 5 kittens once we shared that we have no problem with the Mom Cat being returned to us as a barn cat. (The same goes for the other adult ferals that come and go around our house, too. We don't really like it, but we're willing to care for them as barn cats should they decide to return. If they show up again, they're getting spayed/neutered for sure).

I wanted to call the shelter today and ask about the protocol for the aftermath of a VERY Feral's spay, but they have their hands full even more right now because the cats at their shelter are spreading an illness around and they have no isolation room to separate the sick cats from the healthy ones. Because of that, they aren't accepting any cats until further notice. It's lousy timing for us, and a real hardship for them.
 

FeebysOwner

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Not exactly sure what you are asking. Tbh, most rescue centers/shelters who deal with TNR are just that: Trap, Neuter, and Release. Most do not care for female cats beyond a brief observation period, maybe some for 24-48 hours, before they are let go back into their environment. I am sure the observation timeline might vary from group to group, but not by much. If the mama has been spayed and released, all you can do is keep an eye on her while she heals - but there are so many cats that go through this process without incident.

If there is something I am missing about your specific concerns, please let us know.
 
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fionasmom

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Contact the specific place you will use and explain your concerns. Around here, TNR done by the large, well run groups, usually amounts to dropping the cat off early in the morning or, alternatively, taking them to a van which drives a number of cats to the location. The cats are returned late afternoon and most are released. The shelters who do TNR operate on the same principle. I have most spays and neuters done at my vet's, only because some of the other programs are hard to get appointments. For an extra overnight fee, he keeps all females for a day or two, and males overnight.

I have released all ferals after a day or two, a few in the same day. Yes, you have no control over what happens and I have seen then run and jump over a wall. No one has ever gone missing or died from this.
 
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Kristin_Happy Texan

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Thanks. It's been on my mind. I'm going to visit the shelter again this week, to see if they have any idea when they might be accepting cats again. (I planned on asking about the procedure for after a spay then, but in the meantime I was curious about the average protocol/others personal experiences). I just hope they reopen their doors to cats soon because these kittens are getting bigger. Also, the Mom can only be admitted to the shelter on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Capturing 6 cats is not easy! :headshake:
 

kittychick

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I'm glad you've come here for advice/suggestions/empathy and more. It really is a great group of people who care about kitties and the people who care for them. And since - in this "Feral/Stray Forum" many of us have gone through what you're going through and can advice (as you saw in the first two experienced members answers).

First of all - - I was so happy to read that, even though you aren't thrilled about having "Mom" back, that you're not only concerned for her kittens health, but her health and well-being. So many adult ferals and strays get nothing but a blind eye from most people. So a BIG pat on the back for not only making a big effort to get the kittens somewhere, but a pat on the back for your concern about Momma cat!!!!

As someone who's worked phones and the front desk at a shelter (plus volunteered, fostered, TNR'd and socialized lots--- maybe I need a less stressful hobby :ruminating: ) - - I can tell you going in and talking to someone at the shelter vs a phone call makes a BIG difference. It's easier to say "no" on the phone - - plus going there in person shows you really DO care and are trying to do the best for the kittens and the mom - - that you just need help as timing is getting more critical with the heat, etc. And you're right - it'll help to get the kittens in sooner rather then later (assuming they're weaned) - since they'll adopt faster while they're still "kitten cute."

It does sound like the shelter you're working with is being as helpful as they can. Having them shut down due to illness is rotten, and obv timing is esp awful for people like you who are trying to get kitties in during this heat. Are they the only shelter/clinic in your area? If not, you might reach out to other places - - particularly spay/neuter clinics if you have any. Even more then shelters (altho some shelters do this too), as fionasmom fionasmom mentioned, many spay/neuter/TNR organizations will send out someone to help you trap, transport, etc. - or even do it themselves, especially when kittens are involved. The vast majority of shelters and spay/neuter clinics are really overwhelmed right now since it's "kitten season," plus many are facing staff shortages and monetary shortages so they're cutting intake numbers. Our clinic went to spay/neuter by appointment-only, and also only a few days a week (most appts are 6 weeks out here!). And it's kind of hard to get the kitties to understand they have to be celibate until those 6 weeks go by - - AND they need to go into the trap the morning of their appointment! Consequently, any feral colony caretakers in our area (bc of the new "appointment issue") have also gone to taking trapped ferals to their own vets, despite it costing more (plus you have to find a vet that will fix a feral kitty - - many won't work on them).

I understand your worry about Momma cat being released right after surgery (I panic a little too - well, alot - every time we release a fixed feral). But the good news - as fionasmom fionasmom noted - is that once she's been spayed, she can be released pretty quickly, and it rarely causes an issue. If she comes back to your place (and a big BIG yeah for having food/water/shelter for her!!!!), they'll likely recommend she stay contained for at least 24 hours post spay. Some clinics keep females overnight bc of that (not all tho). Many clinics say that you can keep the kitty in the trap for the 24 hours, we personally keep newly spayed female ferals in a very large (St. Bernard size) crate w/food/water/etc and then release them (depending on the cat) in usually around 48 hours to be extra safe. But if you can't do that, make sure she's got food/water/shelter available bc she'll likely disappear for a bit, but she'll likely be back very shortly bc she needs those things! So when she does come back (and luckily she views your place as home - so you'll be able to monitor her!), just watch that she appears "normal." No staggering, no obvious bleeding, etc. Of the many many MANY we've released, we've never had a single one have any physical issues post-release.

One last thing - - momma cat not meowing is normal. Feral cats rarely make noise, as their moms have taught them that any noise makes them more likely to be found by predators. Cats meow generally only with humans, as they recognize that we humans relate to each other (and to their kitties) - through sound. Making a sound outside as a feral cat is dangerous for them - - and feral mommas teach their babies that too. So no meowing is actually quite normal. And the reaction by the kitten (and I know how heartbreaking it is to watch a kitten/cat that terrified) is like the meowing - - mom has taught them that contact with everything (but her) can be very dangerous, so until they learn otherwise, they'll do anything they can to get away from a predator/person. The good news is that - if socialized - the kittens can definitely learn that people "ain't so bad!"

Please keep us posted - - and don't be afraid to ask any questions!!! I'll certainly be thinking of you (and the momma and babies!).
 
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Kristin_Happy Texan

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You are very kind. I've been really worried about all of it, and my concern for all the cats - especially psychologically - is upsetting my mother. If I mention it at all, her anxiety goes up. (She's been dealing with A LOT of health issues, and anxiety is just one of the problems. Everything has really been escalating with her, and for the worst. It's tough to watch and not be able to help, and then add all these cats to the mix). I have to remind myself to not brainstorm about the cats (catching them, spaying) out loud in front of her. I really am just thinking out loud, too. Bouncing ideas off her, but she doesn't want to hear it. She just wants it over with, and she has no qualms about the cats being in a crate, etc overnight. I, however, find that to be out of the question. I can't just "turn off" my concern for these cats' emotional health any more than she can turn off her anxiety over every little thing.

The good news is she got another crate for the cats today, from my grandmother. It's a larger one than the one we have, so I like that.

That's interesting about ferals not usually meowing. I've only heard her babies cry, when they were trapped. (One was in a large pen we built, but the little bugger escaped. The other I had to release on my own b/c that morning I discovered the shelter wasn't taking in any cats due to that contagious illness). There's another feral that used to hang out around here, and it never shut up. Lol! I mean it is a talkative thing!!! Every time she meows, it sounds the same. There's a note of 'threat' at the very end of it, and she does this over and over and over. She's afraid of me, but she never ever ever stops talking. She's a beautiful Calico. She is so, so pretty! I really do wish she would trust me. I named her "Polly."
 
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