Cats Protection’s Community Neutering Officers

Community neutering work engages with
communities to educate owners about the neutering of pet cats. As well as
changing behaviours and attitudes towards the neutering and welfare of strays and
ferals. The overpopulation of urban strays, which we like to call community
cats, causes nuisance issues for residents and we can manage this through
Trap, Neuter, Return and the rehoming of the friendly, abandoned stray cats. Messing in the gardens, ripping bags open… just loads of them everywhere. There are quite a lot of them. There are a lot of
them everywhere. This is Bulwell and look – it’s too overpopulated, especially with cats. Not as much with dogs, but cats, the most. Definitely. I’ll tell you that that for nothing. One part of the role that we do is Trap,
Neuter and Return of stray and feral cats. We have to do a lot of work before,
having to make sure all neighbours and neighbouring areas are aware of what
we’re doing and how they can make their pet cat identifiable to make sure we are
getting the true strays and ferals in the area. So what we do with the
door-knocking – we knock and if there’s no answer
then we do post a leaflet through the door. If they do answer but aren’t seeing any strays, we just give them one of these and then they can let us know if
they see any stray cats in the area and if they’re happy to give the details, we
take those as well. A feeder is the person that is feeding the stray or the
group of strays. We normally find them by either them coming and approaching us saying they’re feeding cats and want some help, or when we do our door-knocking
we’ll come across them that way. Yeah they came around door-knocking and then
obviously we told them that we’d got one round the back, so they came and dropped us a trap. We keep feeding them and another one comes and then another one comes and
basically just trying to keep the strays down to a minimum as far as them breeding, getting them neutered, get people looking after them and not trying to kick
them or chase them. We’re just trying to look after the animals around here mate. When we go out and trap the stray and feral cats, it can be quite a long,
intensive process. Normally we try and get the feeders to get the cats into a
routine, so hopefully they will be there at the set time every day, and we’ll try and
trap at that time. It can be very unpredictable. You have to be very
patient and sometimes it takes repeated visits to make sure the whole group has
been done. So we put the food right at the top end so that they’ve got to come
all the way in to get it. We trail a bit of food down it to try and encourage them in. The trap’s been in the garden for a week so the cat can get used to
it. So hopefully it’s nice and normal for him to eat out the trap every day. We
always take the doors with us because we don’t want anyone trying to catch the
cat when we’re not here. So now we just need to hide out the way and hopefully
he’ll be out soon for his dinner. Normally they would come at the preferred
feeding time – if there’s any disturbances that they’re not used to it can put them
off, so anything up to an hour and a half, really, that we’ll wait just to see if he’ll
turn up. Unfortunately we didn’t get the boy we
were after. It’s just the harsh realities of TNR I’m afraid. That does mean that
we’ve got to take the time to come back to this site now and sit again and
hopefully get him at that time. Fingers crossed we’ll get him next time. We do get a lot of people that, when we say we’re going to trap the cats, they are
quite concerned. But once we explain that they’re humane traps that the cat goes
in because there’s food in it and all we do then is to pull a string to close the door. It’s
a lot less stressful for the cats than actually trying to grab them and get
them into a carrier. A lot of people are then very understanding and really happy for
us to get on with the work. Well it was a really successful trap – nice and quick.
He was quite a confident cat because he has been a pet cat before and he was nice
and hungry. We were able to get in pretty quickly and got him swapped over, straight
into a carrier ready to go to the vets. Having a high visibility and a strong
presence on the ground really helps raise awareness of the Trap, Neuter,
Return work and can help to build essential relationships with people in
the community. We found the charity in the neighbourhood catching cats that been
around to get them spayed and looked at – that’s how we bumped into each other –
we got talking. We’ve got quite a few strays around the area and they got hold
of my cat. I ended up with three un-neutered female cats and the charity
helped me afford to get them neutered so this wouldn’t happen again. I think
people need to know that the help is available, they don’t always know, they’re not always educated on that matter. They
might just end up with a kitten and they have no idea what they’re actually doing. Get the logo out there, let them know that the help is available. I think
you’re doing a fantastic job. We’ve found a
great way of getting out in the community so far is attending events, so we want to try and
get to more events during the summer to try and raise our awareness more and
hopefully get more people coming forward and reporting the stray cats. But it’s just having the time to be able to do all the work with the cats and also
attending the events. Yes, we’ve got a number of cats entering the back garden and we’ve had one cat have a litter of kittens. We just needed to know the correct way of handling the situation. If the cats keep breeding, it’s going to be
more and more and more… there’ll be no end to it. I think they’ve got more information today. An answer to the problems. It’s extremely important that community neutering work involves members of the
community in projects, rather than delivering to them and some of the ways
this is achieved is working alongside public agencies and other charities. We’ve just arrived at the Community Payback Office to pick up the cat
shelters that they’ve been making for us. This is the first batch so we’re really
excited to see how they’ve turned out. We were approached by Cats Protection to help
build these cat shelters to help feral and stray cats in the local area. Cats
Protection gives us all the materials to make what we’re doing. We use offenders
who were on sentence from court to make these up into a finished article, which
are then collected by the team to take out into local areas. We’re delighted to
work with the charity. It benefits our service users and also the charity itself and
the local communities. We hope this is going to be a long-term relationship with the
charity and we look forward to new and future projects when they come. The role has so many layers and there are so many different ways community neutering officers work to engage with communities and raise awareness. Another aspect of our role is scanning cats for their microchips. I’ve had one myself, where
we actually went out to TNR a cat, we scanned her, she turned out to have a
microchip and the owners actually lived quite a way from where we caught
her. She did manage to get home and she’s now living happily back at home
after two years of straying. So we’re back at the vets and we’re going to
collect the cat that we caught Monday night. It’s turned out to be nice and
friendly so we’re going to take him into the adoption centre for rehoming. From here the cat will have an in-house
health-check with one of our team today. He will have flea and worming treatment
applied, go to the vet’s next week and get the rest of his checks done. And if the vet’s happy with him, he’ll get his microchip in two weeks’ time and he’ll
then put up for adoption. Hopefully we’ll find a nice family for him to go to. The
work that these guys are doing in Bulwell is absolutely fantastic and it has
started to make a bit of a dent in the problem. It’s going to take a while to
get it under control but I think every bit that you guys are doing is helping
and we’re trying to help support you where we can by taking in cats like TJ. I love being a community neutering officer because you get to help a lot of cats
that probably otherwise wouldn’t ever get to see a vet or get any veterinary treatment at all. To anyone that’s watching this film, I just want you to
realise how important neutering is for your cat and to try and spread that
message to friends, family, neighbours, just to try and help as many cats as you
can. I’d love people to take away how much of an impact we’ve created already
and how much this role is really making a difference. One cat being neutered is a
massive change to that area. Neutered pet cats and neutered healthy, stable
populations of community cats are so satisfying to see. It’s also great to see
how working with communities achieves our aim of people having a greater
understanding of cats’ needs and community cats being seen as an asset,
not a hindrance, once their numbers are controlled and managed. Without the cats, we’d have rats, I think. As soon as we’ve had these kittens, I’m ready
to get this cat neutered as soon as possible. I’m not asking for any money
for them, as long as they go to a good home. That’s perfectly good with me, I’m
happy with that. It makes all the hard work so worthwhile.

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