Why am I depressed and nervous the night of trapping?

Noelle_W

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I have TNR'd about 30 cats throughout my lifetime..and I'm getting worse and worse about it. The night I trap (I set the trap out tonight) I get so depressed and nervous. I feel so sorry for the trapped cat. We are lucky enough to have a spay/neuter clinic in my town. The protocol is they accept ferals with appointments at 8:30 am and pick up is 4 pm the same day. I feel so guilty for the poor cat, being in a crowded, loud clinic with humans, barking dogs and other cats all day. But what really has me questioning this is that of all the cats I've recently TNR'd (about six), I only see one coming around for feeding after release. I've trapped five males in the past year--and I've never seen any of them again after I released them! I worry they were so tramatized that they left their only food source--me. In my mind, I really do believe in spay/neuter...but it is so stressful for me. I'm hoping someone can make me feel better about this. I have two males I need to trap, and I have heard a cat fight in my yard so I know it was probably them. Then I worry if I only catch one--the other one will bully the other one. I just need a pep talk I think!
 

Margot Lane

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You should really be proud of what you do: I’m so impressed. Think of all the little unwanted kitties that now will not be, the wildlife you are saving! Feral cats are pretty self reliant— I’d be willing to bet they have other food sources of which you may be unaware. I wonder too if the alteration somehow makes them feel less safe around other unaltered cats but don’t know. You could put out a cat cam…maybe they come around when they sense you’re not there (or are asleep). You sound like a very hardworking person; I hope you take some quality time for yourself whilst TNRing all of these cats! As for potential bullying…I do see traps covered with paper bags or cloth which might lessen that aspect.
 

Margot Lane

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I had another thought: do you have another TNR friend near you with whom you can tag team? Maybe one of you can provide food or outdoor cat shelters as an alternate safe place? I did read on another site that TNRed cats do come back, it just takes time.
 

Mamanyt1953

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Weigh the pros of TNR against the cons. You'll see that for one day of unpleasantness, they gain a lifetime of good. The constant fighting over females is gone (and the wounds from those fights), the possibility of a hormone-driven cancers is gone. Kittens born to a short, hard life will not happen. There is a great deal of good that comes from TNR. And I agree with Margot Lane Margot Lane . TNR'd cats do tend to come back. It may take some time, but they come back.
 

dahlia

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I totally know what you mean. I have to psyche myself up for it before I trap. I have a friend who TNRs that it doesn't seem to bother at all but I am like you and worry about how miserable they are. I know it is just for a brief period of time and the end result is to make their lives better but it is still hard. They look so scared. I assist with other TNRs but am also working on getting my own colony all TNRd. My main colony cats maybe didn't show up for a day or so but have all come back. Others I have seen every now and then and I hope they have an alternate food source.
Being in cat rescue can sometimes be emotionally exhausting and I don't think people that don't do it understand the emotional cost. Keep up the good work. There are people who understand and appreciate what you do.
 
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Noelle_W

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Dahlia--Thank you for asking. I caught the large yellow male (12 lbs) I call Alvin. He of course was tramatized...and his nemisis--the other male cat (Carl) I had been feeding and Alvin had been fighting with--witnessed the ENTIRE thing. His eyes were like saucers. He watched me move the trap and I swear he knew I was responsible. It was a long day for Alvin--the clinic did not want me to release him until the next morning. I made sure he had a meal that morning. And...my worst fear came to fruition. I have not seen Alvin or Carl since I released Alvin. I'm sure--like all the other males I've tnr'd--he is tramatized and moved away. Ugh.
 

iPappy

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When we did TNR for our feral cats, they would disappear for awhile and eventually, I'd go into the barn late at night or early in the morning, and there they were. They seem to have an ability of being invisible. It's very possible they are still around, just being cautious. When I would take them to the clinic for spaying and neutering, I would tell them that I 100% promised them I wasn't abandoning them, and I promised that no matter what I would be back in a day or so and take them back home and promise them a warm place to stay and plenty of food.
It's also possible that they went a bit away and found another colony or even a home that feeds them or took them in. My neighbors (who live within walking distance, but not exactly "next door") made the comment once that a really nice cat showed up that matched the description of one of the cats we fed. Sure enough, the little stinker was getting free meals at TWO houses. Smart cat!
 

Antonio65

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I have TRN'd at least 40 cats in my life, and I also re-trapped cats who needed vet attentions.

No matter what the reason for trapping a cat is, everytime I do that I get stressed out to the limits. I had to fix a whole colony of feral cats a few years back, and I would trap a cat a day. What I can tell you is that after fifteen or so cats I had to take a week off because I was really burned out, I couldn't function myself anymore, my nerves were shaking all day, I couldn't eat and sleep before and after the trapping. I would feel so sorry for the trapped cat. I knew I was doing it for their future wellbeing and for the safety of the colony itself, but I couldn't help myself thinking it was an act of betrayal. Those cats would trust me and rely on me for food, and now I had trapped them, what could they think? They were scared to death in the trap, how could I forgive myself for putting them in such a situation?
So, I had to take a good week off to recharge my spirit and body.
I asked other people who do TNR and they told me the same thing, one cannot do that everyday, it's mind-destroying.

The last time I trapped a cat was 10 days ago. She was in a desperate need for a vet visit and the only way to get her was to set the trap. I'm telling you, when I was there, watching the trap and the cat approaching it, my heart was thumping so fast that I could hear it out loud, I think that my heartbeat rate was way above 120 bpm, and when the cat was caught in the trap I was both happy because I could have her treated by the vets and sad for what I had just done.
The night before setting the trap (I set it up at 9 am) I hardly slept and didn't have my breakfast in the morning.

As for not seeing the released cat the next day(s) I can say that it can happen. They seem to disappear for a few days, then they come back. So far, only a couple of cats have gone for good after releasing them. They were happy at the colony, they were so traumatized by the trapping that they didn't come back. This, too, adds to the stress of TRN'ing, knowing that despite our efforts and good intentions, it doesn't always go as we had planned and we might interfere with their lives.

Believe me, you're not alone, but I can say that you are great!
 
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Noelle_W

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Thank you everyone for the replies. I have gone back to this thread numerous times to make sure I read everyone's responses. The responses make me feel so much better--you have no idea! I'm still hoping and praying Alvin and Carl reappear. I purchased another trap (so now I have two traps). This way, I can start feeding in an unset trap and get Alvin and Carl used to eating inside a trap again. Then, hopefully I will catch Carl and then I'll be done. All the ferals in my neighborhood (at least for now) have been fixed. I just hope these two boys come back!!
 
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