The second week of October was an eventful one for the Georgia-based not-for-profit SNAP-2IT. Thanks to a grant from Alley Cat Allies, SNAP-2IT (Spay, Neuter Assistance Program) was able to embark on a busy week of TNR – trap, neuter, release – designed to improve the lives of Georgia animals.
Every wonder what a powerhouse trapping program might look like? Let’s follow SNAP’s lead trapper, Kyla.
Sunday, October 7
After feeding and cleaning up after SNAP fosters, Kyla visited to the barns where the SNAP colony of ferals live. 60 feedings later, she began loading her van to set out on the first day of trapping. Over a dozen traps, trap covers, blankets and beds, cat food, bowl and water and emergency clean up supplies later, she set out before it was even light.
It was still dark when Kyla arrived at the first trapping site, a hardware store in Lithia Springs, Georgia, that SNAP learned about through a supporter. As with all feral colonies that SNAP assists, a committed colony caregiver has already been identified and the store employees are full participants in the TNR exercise. Today, this is especially important because it means Kyla can set up the traps and know that the equipment – and most importantly any cats it might capture – are safe. Kyla places four traps and carefully baits them. Although she watches from the shadows for a few minutes, no cats emerge. She leaves the traps to move on to the next location.
Next, Kyla visits the Queens neighborhood, about 8 miles away from the hardware store. Local animal control referred this neighborhood to SNAP for assistance. Again, the neighbors are full participants in the TNR activity, which greatly increases the likelihood of the cats living a healthy and happy life once they are returned to their original stomping grounds. Kyla placed and baited ten cages and stepped back to watch. As soon as she was out of sight, seven hungry ferals ventured into the metal cages and …whoosh… in a few seconds, were trapped. All seven are young adults that have reached breeding age; we even captured one cat that had already been altered, most likely from our ongoing work at a neighboring trailer park.
Kyla gingerly arranges the seven cats, still in the traps, in the van. They are young and all very different: a big gray cat, a calico, a solid black, multiple black and whites, and a ginger. Kyla transports the cats to a temporary holding space where they will stay until the next morning. She makes them comfortable with food, water, blankets and litter boxes. They don’t know it yet, but the next morning they will all visit the clinic, be spay / neutered as appropriate, receive any needed vaccinations, and be examined for any outstanding medical issues.
The Queens cats actually aren’t the first ones in the holding space. Three ferals who were recently trapped at another colony will join the Queen cats at the clinic the next day, bringing the total so far to 11.
Throughout the day, Kyla stays in touch with representatives from the hardware store and Queens neighborhood. Because there is a lot of activity and noise in both locations during daytime hours, she isn’t completely surprised that no other animals are caught immediately.
Kyla returns to the hardware store in Lithia Springs. Jackpot! Two feral cats crouch quietly and watch her from their cages as she approaches. She quickly stores them in the van, checks the bait in the remaining traps, and visits the Queens site one last time.
Two must be her lucky number. Two more ferals from the Queens neighborhood join the hardware cats. After re-baiting the remaining traps, Kyla transports all the ferals to the temporary holding space and settles them in for the night. Although it’s been a busy day, Kyla will make her evening trip to the SNAP feral barn to tend to our resident colony and care for SNAP fosters before calling it a night.
Sunday grand total: 15
Monday, October 8
After feeding and cleaning up after SNAP fosters, Kyla takes care of the feral colony that SNAP houses in a barn. She then loads the newly trapped ferals plus the three previously trapped cats for a total of 15 and transports them to the West Georgia Spay/Neuter Clinic.
The clinic staff carefully helps Kyla unload the animals, bucket brigade style. 15 cages and carriers take up a lot of room.
Because we are running low on feral traps, Kyla will stock up on cat carriers and drop them off later today so that the ferals coming out of surgery can recover in a carrier – rather than a large cage – and we will have traps to allow for continued TNR.
Before she leaves the Clinic, Kyla runs into representatives from Animal Control. They tell her about three ferals that are scheduled to be euthanized the same day. Kyla arranges for the three to be transferred into SNAP care. Animal Control agrees to bring the ferals to the Clinic, where they will be tested, vaccinated, and fixed, and if all goes well, released into SNAP’s own feral colony to live out their lives. This brings the number of animals SNAP is able to help because of Alley Cat Allies help to 18 so far.
Then, another sad story: a friendly mother with four kittens has also shown up in animal control. From their descriptions, Kyla feels it is likely they can be socialized and eventually adopted into good homes. Once again, Animal Control agrees to deliver the cat family to the clinic if SNAP will take them. The mother will be tested, vaccinated and fixed. The four kittens, tiny balls of fluff, aren’t old enough yet to be fixed, but they are at least fully weaned, and will be vaccinated and examined. Our total climbs to 23.
After swinging by SNAP’s storage facility to pick up more cat carriers, Kyla drops them back at the Clinic so that post-surgery, the ferals can recover in them, thus freeing up the traps. She then returns to the Queens site and sets three more traps. Because the colony caregivers are present, she can leave and attend to other sites without manning the traps the entire time.
Kyla visits the feral barns and attends to the SNAP guests who live full time in our colony. After a quick lunch, she goes to a local animal Food Bank and picks up nearly 2000 pounds of food. SNAP provides food for our resident feral colony, our SNAP fosters, and the other feral colonies we support to a tune of nearly 5000 pounds a week. Part of running a not-for-profit is always staying aware of opportunities to obtain free food or purchase food cheaply in bulk, and looking for creative volunteer help with logistics. Kyla unloads the food at the SNAP storage facility and is catching her breath when the Clinic calls; we can pick up the rest of the traps late in the afternoon.
Kyla’s next stop is Phillip’s Mill Road, a location that was a referral from local animal control. Kyla set and baited five traps and the second she stepped back, four cats headed straight for the food. When the instinct to eat overcomes that of avoiding potential danger, it means the cats are hungry – very hungry. Kyla spots a male lurking in the shadows that she is unable to capture. She will return for him later.
Glancing at her watch, she makes a snap decision; it’s early enough so that if she takes the four new trapped ferals to the Clinic now, they can get fixed with the rest of the animals. After setting the cats in the van, she makes her way back to the clinic and drops off the new cats. Our total climbs to 27 lives touched; 23 undergoing altering.
Before she goes home, Kyla swings past the traps at Queens and the hardware store. Although there are no new captures, she rebaits the traps, thankful that she can leave them overnight in the secure locations.
Kyla hasn’t picked up any stragglers at the hardware store or the Queens neighborhood, but she visits the sites a few more times, watching the shadows. At ten she calls it a night.
Tuesday October 9
Time to feed the SNAP fosters! And ferals in the barn!
Tuesday is a big day for the rescued cats: now that they have recovered from their surgery, they will be released at their home base, back into familiar surroundings. Kyla won’t rush the process, though; she wants to give the cats that will be released back to the base locations time to fully recover from the surgery. Observing them for a few hours helps ensure that we don’t inadvertently release an animal that needs further medical attention.
She loads up the 23 carriers and transports them back to the temporary holding area. She carefully separates the ferals that will be relocated to SNAP’s colony from the rest of the cats, and moves the friendly mother of four into a different location so that she can be placed with a foster. The cats will recover in the quiet; Kyla will release them at dusk.
Kyla turns her attention to a situation in Roswell. A family of SNAP supporters contacted Kyla for help trapping a homeless mother and kittens who appeared in the family’s back yard. They will adopt the animals and pay to have them altered…they just can’t catch them and know that Kyla has the magic touch.
Unsure how many animals are present, Kyla baits six traps, and steps back to watch. Within a few hours, she has trapped the mother cat and two kittens and turns them over to the family for care. Although she spots another kitten, he is wary and avoids the traps. She makes sure the traps are well-baited and secure, and heads back to the temporary holding place.
Kyla loads all the animals who will be repatriated into the van and heads first to the hardware store. She carefully unloads the Lithia Springs cats and opens the door to their cages. Smiling, she imagines they are waving goodbye to her as they vanish into the gloom.
Next, the cats from the Queens neighborhood are released. Kyla takes the opportunity to leave food with the colony caregiver and speak with the neighbors about what to do if a strange cat is spotted in the area.
It’s been a long and gratifying day. Kyla chats with the family in Roswell and confirms the reluctant kitten has not ventured into the trap yet. She will check again tomorrow.
After taking care of the SNAP colony and foster, Kyla eyes the growing stack of laundry, carriers and cages that need to be cleaned. This will be the last item on her list.
Wednesday, October 10
After her normal feline duties, Kyla visits the Roswell home. Victory! The final kitten was trapped overnight. She quickly scoops him out of the cage and into a carrier. This is the final cat at this particular location, and knowing that the feline family will stay intact and find a home with a loving family is rewarding.
SNAP’s final total climbs to 30 lives touched with 23 altered due to Alley Cat Allies’ generous grant.
SNAP is able to continue our work thanks to the support of generous organizations like Alley Cat Allies – and you. There are a myriad of ways you can help SNAP from monetary donations to volunteering your time and energy to saving aluminum cans, coupons and other items. If you’d like to get involved, apply online. We’d love to tell you about current volunteer opportunities and discuss what might be the best fit for you!