UPDATED Winter 2022
DO NOT TRAP CATS WITHOUT A PLAN TO TAKE THEM TO A VET OR RESCUE
PAY VERY CLOSE ATTENTION TO TEMPERATURES. DO NOT ATTEMPT TNR DURING THE WEEK OF A FREEZE ADVISORY !! It will be too cold for routine* TNR of community cats! Recovery from surgery lasts for two weeks, it’s not just the following day. It is very difficult for outdoor cats to recover from surgery in extreme weather (freezes count as extreme). *(injured or ill cats may still need to be trapped, see tucsonferalcat.org for how to do this safely)
Please see our cold weather info here, here, and here, for easy, effective and inexpensive ways to keep cats warm outdoors. Please note, that STRAW, not hay, should be used for insulation. Straw is a better insulator and most feed stores will sell inexpensive bags of loose straw or an inexpensive bale. RE: materials, the insulating foam is widely and inexpensively available at hardware stores while the plastic tubs are least expensive at Target, in our experience.
*Please note, we are just one or two unfunded volunteers that have compiled local resources on this website. We are NOT a shelter nor are we a rescue.*
***Now that our trap loan and trapping help services are on hiatus we feel like one of the most important things to leave you with is this, you MUST become an advocate for community cats when seeking help for them. Don’t take no for an answer, don’t allow yourself to be brushed off with unreturned messages/calls. You MUST fight for these cats that are so easily swept aside. You MUST be assertive yet polite. If you don’t get responses, ask for supervisors, if they don’t respond then email your city council rep and mayor. Call every shelter or organization listed until someone listens to you and helps with the situation.***
Community cats (feral, free-roaming, friendly, stray, alley cat, street cat, etc.) are all over Pima County. Many people believe community cats are just an issue in their own neighborhood but they are all over our community and since they are already here, we provide solutions to issues involving community cats including stopping them from reproducing. We get lots of calls asking if there is somewhere they can just all be taken to, like a shelter, or a farm. That place would have to be like Santa’s magically expanding bag, it just doesn’t exist. But we can learn to live with cats in our community, even if some of us don’t like them or want them around.
If you don’t already know what trap-neuter-return is, go here. Trap-neuter-return (TNR) is the most effective solution for outdoor cats, whether you like cats or not, TNR works. This page is a list of resources for TNR. TNR is appropriate for any outdoor, free-roaming cat. If you are looking for other information about community cats, please see the site menu.
EMERGENCIES/URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES: If there is a community cat whose health you are concerned for, there IS HELP AVAILABLE! If the cat needs veterinary care beyond spay/neuter, please take them to Santa Cruz Veterinary Clinic under their community cats program. There is funding in place to cover most medical issue with community (includes stray and feral) cats. If something major is required, and they ask you to pay, ask them to contact “No Kill Pima County.” This clinic will also sterilize and vaccinate the cat. If you need to trap them to do this, call the trap depots listed below. If there is an emergency and the cat is in immediate medical need and it is during business hours then Santa Cruz Veterinary Clinic at 5408 S 12th Ave, can usually accomodate them. If it is AFTER Santa Cruz’ business hours, on the weekend or a date Santa Cruz is not taking community cats (call them at (520) 889-9643 but they rarely answer their phones so you should check their Facebook page for this) and it is a TRUE EMERGENCY (something that absolutely cannot wait until when Santa Cruz is open and accepting community cats, because the risk of euthanasia is higher with this option; examples would be if a cat was hit by a car, is lying on their side not moving well, disturbed breathing, severe disorientation, severe bleeding, etc.) then take them to Pima Pet Clinic at 4832 E Speedway Blvd, and turn them over as a good samaritan letting them know you are willing to foster the cat if they are stabilized and sent to PACC or another shelter. That way the shelter knows there is a foster available and the cat is less likely to be euthanized.
Feral and fearful cats should NEVER be turned in to community shelters or animal control as they are put at risk by doing this and this will not keep other cats from moving into where they used to live ( read about why here). The safest, most humane and EFFECTIVE option for controlling outdoor cat populations is Trap-Neuter-Return also called TNR. We provide information about all aspects of TNR including other outdoor cat issues (see the site menu).
Before we get to TNR resources, please note some important issues we see continuing to come up:
- REMEMBER, trapped cats MUST be COVERED WITH A SHEET or TOWEL that covers the entire trap!! In colder weather, heavier trap covers are better such as towels (if large enough), flannel sheets, etc.
- CATS MUST be returned to their original location for Trap-Neuter-Return. Cats should NOT be trapped sooner than the night prior to going to the vet clinic. It is stressful for cats to sit in a trap for days before going to the vet, please don’t trap without a plan to go to the vet the next or same day.
- All cats, including adult males, need to be TNR’d. Please don’t focus solely on kittens. Kittens come from adult cats mating so that tom cat you only see once every three days still needs to be TNR’d. There are a multitude of health advantages for adult cats being spayed/neutered and vaccinated. Please be compassionate and smart and trap ALL the cats, not just kittens. Otherwise you’ll just end up with more kittens/cats.
- Please CALL individual clinics or check their Facebook page for HOLIDAY/CLOSURE DATES! You don’t want to trap a cat and take them to a vet to find the vet closed or not accepting community cats that day. And if this happens, call the other vets listed for TNR here and tell them what happened, if they cannot accomodate you within 24 hours, RELEASE THE CAT…UNLESS THEY HAVE MEDICAL NEEDS. IF THE CAT HAS MEDICAL NEEDS AND YOU CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHICH VET TO GET THEM TO, try Santa Cruz Vet Clinic first, if they are not closed, call PACC dispatch to report medical issues at 520) 724-5900 and press 4!
- DO NOT REMOVE NURSING KITTENS, READ this FIRST: What To Do If You Find Newborn, Infant and Young Kittens
- YOU are the best person to trap the cats you are feeding, click here to find out why.
#1 – TRAP
- Trapping in EXTREME WEATHER CAN KILL CATS, be mindful of extreme temperatures. DO NOT ATTEMPT TNR DURING FREEZE WARNINGS/FREEZING TEMPS. Basically if temps are below 42 degrees farenheit at night or day, do not trap. Remember, an entire organ is being removed with TNR and it takes 2 weeks minimum to recover from that kind of surgery in optimal conditions. An freeze advisory is the opposite of that. PLEASE wait to TNR until AFTER any FREEZE ADVISORY. Please hold off on trapping while storms are occurring or imminent.
- If you need to trap a cat that is seriously ill or injured during extreme weather, try to trap at the most comfortable time of day (if possible) and then pull the trapped cat indoors (inside the trap) immediately to avoid temperature related illness!
- COVER TRAPPED CATS! Once a cat is trapped, cover the trap FULLY with a breathable towel, thick sheet, etc. This greatly minimizes stress to the cat. Large towels are ok but regular bath towels are generally too small to cover traps with. Please put something under trap to deflect cold if cats are being kept in traps outside before transport. And add heavier blankets to top, but make sure they can still breathe.
- VIDEO COMING SOON
You can BORROW TRAPS for FREE (with a refundable deposit) as well as receive training on how to use them and ask questions about where to go for FREE spay/neuter of community cats by contacting one of the trap depots listed below, most of which have a waiting list:
- Pima Animal Care Center Community Cat Program (520) 724-5983 pima.gov/communitycats , CommunityCats@pima.gov
Drop off of humane traps AND transportation assistance are availbale for zip codes: 86705, 85706, 85711, 85713, 85716, 85746. *Virgin trap sites (no trapping has been done in area before) and colonies over 5 cats may be given preference.
- HSSA, call them to ask them what help they offer (520) 327-6088 ext 186
- Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter & Sanctuary (520) 571-7839
- Tucson CARES (520) 990-8912 (specializes in difficult to trap cats)
- Pawsitively Cats No-Kill Shelter (520) 289-2747
- The Last Resort (520) 792-9290
- Tucson Feral Volunteer Group – ON HIATUS DUE TO SEVERE DISABILITY
VET CLINICS PARTICIPATING in FREE Community Cat Services
CALL ALL CLINICS 1-2 BUSINESS DAYS PRIOR TO THE DAY YOU PLAN TO GO, TO VERIFY THAT THEY WILL HAVE TNR SERVICES AVAILABLE! Otherwise you run the risk of being turned away. Their facebook pages generally have more up-to-date information. If there is a medical situation and this is not possible just check their facebook page and make sure they are open that day, Santa Cruz Vet Clinic is where you’d take cats with medical problems and their Facebook page is here, you may need to scroll through their posts to see their closure dates for the current month.
IMPORTANT: If the street address of the cats’ location is “Marana” or “Sahuarita”, you MUST take those cats to HSSA. They are not eligible for the program at Santa Cruz. To be sure you are eligible to take community cats to Santa Cruz for free TNR services, enter your address here: https://gis.pima.gov/maps/landbase/parsrch.htm, then look at “Jurisdiction”, if Pima County or Tucson come up, cats from that address qualify for Santa Cruz Vet Clinic services. If another jurisdiction comes up and you aren’t sure what TNR program to use call the individual clinics.
- Santa Cruz Veterinary Clinic (Facebook Page , website ) offers FREE STERILIZATION, vaccination, and parasite treatment for feral/community cats coming from an address NOT in Marana or Sahuarita brought in using a humane trap. This is currently the ONLY clinic that will accept and help community cats with SERIOUS INJURY or ILLNESS, generally at no cost to the person trapping and bringing in the cat. This clinic holds cats for overnight recovery then you pick cats up the next day and return cats to the same place they were trapped. This clinic usually has Spanish speaking staff members available. They take trapped cats Mon-Fri, 9:30-11am and are located at 5408 S.12th Ave, 520-889-9643. No appointment is needed but call and make sure a vet will be in that week for these services & verify drop off time in case there are changes to their schedule that we have not been notified about. 2020 HOLIDAY/TNR CLOSURE DATES: Call to verify or go to their Facebook page here
- The Humane Society of Southern Arizona ***If the address of the cats’ location is “Marana” or “Sahuarita”, you MUST use this clinic.*** This clinic has gone through some changes since the new clinic director and new CEO have joined HSSA. CALL them before you plan to bring cats there at 520-881-0321 as an appointment is needed and to find out if you have to pay for any TNR services there such as vaccinations, parasite treatment, etc. In the past they have only accepted one or two cats that are at least 3 pounds and free of illness or injury. This clinic returns cats to you the same day, so the cats must be held inside the trap by you, indoors and overnight before being released in the same place they were trapped the next morning because they cannot regulate their body temperature for 24 hours after anesthesia/surgery. On check-in: REFUSE Felv/FIV testing because it is NOT necessary. In the past, HSSA has killed trapped cats that test positive (+) for FeLV whether the cats showed signs of illness or not, and whether the test result was proven accurate or not. We are hopeful this is not still occurring but to avoid any issues, just decline testing for FeLV/FIV. AGAIN CALL THIS CLINIC prior to going because an appointment is needed.
AT THE CLINIC
- When dropping off cats, ask the clinic staff to notify you if any cats are lactating. Lactating mothers usually need to be returned to their kittens after recovering from anesthesia but before the next morning if the kittens are under two months. The clinics will often not tell you this so if you are not sure if a cat is nursing or if her kittens will be safe without her for a day or more, then MAKE SURE YOU COMMUNICATE THIS WITH THE CLINIC!
- When picking cats up, MAKE SURE YOU GET THE SAME CAT(S) BACK. Check to make sure you get the same trap and not a different trap with a similar looking cat. Releasing a cat into a different colony site is often fatal and is considered “dumping” which is illegal. Sometimes clinics get overwhelmed and make mistakes so please check the traps and paperwork you get back to ensure you have the right trap and the right cat!!!!!
- If you utilize HSSA, they give cats back the same day so you must hold cats inside the trap, still covered, and overnight, before being released in the same place they were trapped the next morning. They may be held outside as long as the night time low is not less than 80 degrees farenheit. Cats cannot control their body temp for 24 hours after surgery and must be kept warm overnight.
- Feral cats should NOT be TESTED for FeLV/FIV UNLESS THEY EXHIBIT SIGNS OF SERIOUS ILLNESS. This is a nationally recognized standard of care for feral/community cat colonies. Few exceptions to this rule exist. Killing a cat that is NOT sick or that has something that can be treated is NOT euthanasia . Ringworm is a minor skin fungus, ear mites are easily treated, even FIV is not a reason to kill a cat. For more information, please see “Testing For FeLV/FIV.”
ALWAYS RETURN cats to the SAME place they were INITIALLY TRAPPED. The body takes 2-3 weeks to heal from having an organ removed (sterilization). Unless the clinic notifies you otherwise, they are just fine being let back outdoors but need access to shelter from extreme temperatures, clean water and food, in order to recover from surgery. Keeping cats in traps for longer than the night of surgery is stressful for cats and the may refuse to eat or become ill because of that stress so please release them the day after surgery.
Make sure to clean the traps so that traps don’t harbor germs or smell like other cats/the vet clinic, which could keep future cats from going into traps and so that you aren’t spreading disease or parasites from one cat to the next with the trap. This includes removing any tape/ID tags from the top of the trap.
Here are some simple instructions for cleaning and disinfecting traps:
Spray traps off with a hose then scrub them with a scrub brush and soapy water making sure to remove any food or fecal matter. Rinse the traps with a hose and then spray the entire trap with a 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) with a spray bottle. Let the bleach solution (do NOT use Fabuloso, Pine Sol, etc.) stay on the trap for 10 minutes and then rinse well with a hose again. Allow the traps to air-dry. As an alternative to hand washing, take traps to a self-serve car wash and use a high-powered soap spray to clean them. Rinse at the car wash with clear water, and follow through with the bleaching process explained above.