Recovery and Release

Post-surgical Care

Follow the clinic or veterinarian's instructions for aftercare or medications, if any are required. If the cat was pregnant when spayed, especially late in term, she will need a longer time (3-4 days) to recover before release. In this case, try to locate and borrow a cage larger than the trap where she can be more comfortable for a few days. Generally, male cats (neuters) can be released 12-24 hours after surgery and can recover in their trap. Females (spays) who were not pregnant should be recovered at least 24-48 hours before release and should be transferred to a crate, carrier or cage for their recovery.

If transferring a cat is necessary, always transfer the cat from the trap to a cage in an enclosed room. This is a two-person job. Match the back door (if the trap has one) or trap door of the trap with the cage door, covering any open space with cardboard or plywood. The cat will want to move from a vulnerable space to a dark secure one, so cover the cage you want him/her to move to with a dark cloth; when you have the doors touching, uncover the trap to make the cat want to move to the darkened cage. After he/she is in the cage, make sure to block the door with the cardboard until you can shut the cage door.

If a cat does not seem to be recovering well from the surgery, consider having a vet check him/ her before releasing. You can also call the feral cat clinic for help at 916-504-2818. Cats should be eating and defecating before release. However, many feral cats are so stressed they will not eat while captured. When cats are ready for release, return to the area in which they were captured and release them there. The best time is dusk, or very early morning, when the cat feels most safe from being seen.

Location for Release

Make sure the spot you pick for release does not encourage the cat to run into dangers (like a busy street) to get away from you. Keep the trap covered until you are ready to release. Then simply place the trap with the door facing away from you and open the door. DO NOT RELOCATE THE ANIMAL! This would cause severe disorientation and remove the cat from known food sources, causing death by starvation. In an unfamiliar location, area cats will most likely drive the newcomer away.