Colony care involves much more than simply feeding cats. It is a daily, year-long responsibility that involves trapping, neutering, vaccinating, and releasing the cats into an environment that will improve the quality of their lives. Cats need shelter and a safe place to eat on a predictable schedule. They need to be monitored to assess the health of the colony. There are some basic guidelines to assist in this worthy endeavor.
Maintain a regular, timed feeding schedule – Do not leave any food out for more than 30 minutes, unless the animals are locked in a shelter overnight. Leaving food out for longer periods attracts wildlife, which can cause problems for you, your neighbors, the cats, and the wildlife itself. If your cats are sheltered overnight in a closed environment such as a garage, food can be left with them until morning – just like you would in your home.
Provide Shelters – Many caregivers use a garage or shed to shelter these animals. Some caregivers keep the shelter door slightly open 24/7, have a cat door, or lock the felines inside these shelters at night. Others have great success by providing outdoor shelters – either commercially available or of the do-it-yourself variety. There is no one right way to provide shelter. But you must do it. Animals will begin to recognize their “shelters” as a place of safety and are less likely to cause neighbor problems. There are many tips available on our website to help keep your cats cozy during the winter and comfortable during the summer.
Remember Litterboxes – No one wants a cat “digging” in their yard. It is your responsibility to provide litter boxes placed in a discreet location on your property or in a shelter like a garage. Obviously, keep the litter boxes clean. Trust us, community cats love litter boxes!
Maintain Records – Make sure you monitor the ongoing health of each cat in your colony. Keep all vet records. If another cat should show up and has not been sterilized and vaccinated, call us.
Be a Good Neighbor – This is one of the most important aspects of colony management. Not everyone is an animal lover, but most people can be tolerant. It is up to you to make all reasonable efforts to ensure these cats do not cause neighborhood issues. Therefore, keep your yard and shelters clean and inviting, that way your yard and shelters are the place where the cats want to be!In Your Absence – Provide a replacement caretaker during your absence.