Tips On Recovering Feral Cats In Traps RECOVERING FERAL CATS IN TRAPS

Do you live in Cumberland, Harnett or Robeson County, NC and are interested in participating in the feral cat program, which provides for 5 feral cats to be done for free at the Spay Neuter Clinic? Click for more info!

Thank you for your interest in spaying and neutering feral cats in Cumberland County! We have partnered with Cumberland County Animal Services to help ensure as many feral cats as possible are spayed or neutered.

Please fill out the grant application at this link to qualify for the grant program.
Fill Out Form

We currently have funding for FERAL cats with caretakes in Cumberland, Harnett and Robeson counties.  A feral cat is an outdoor cat that in general cannot be handled. They are not tamed and are not comfortable living inside. As part of the grant ALL cats will receive a rabies vaccine and ALL cats will receive an ear tip, in addition to the surgical tattoo that females receive. Feral cats MUST be brought in a humane Feral Cat wire trap. 

Since it can be hard to know when you will be able to catch a feral cat, you can bring the feral cats in as a “standby” appointment.  You would bring the cats in the morning during normal drop off hours between 7:00 AM – 8:00 AM.  After 8:00 AM there is a $25 late fee and after 8:30 AM we cannot accept them and you will have to try the next day.

Standby appointments are not guaranteed to be done on the day they are brought in, but we attempt to do as many as possible each day. Since they are on standby, we will wait until the end of day after the other surgeries are completed and if we have time, we will complete the surgeries for your cats.  If we do not have time you can bring the cats on standby on another day.  We accept a maximum of 5 ferals each day and it is limited to two ferals per owner per day. Please understand that we have no way of knowing how many ferals will show up each day. If we cannot accept yours, please leave them trapped and bring them the following day.

We recommend trying to trap cats on Sunday so that you can bring them in Monday – Wednesday.  If they are not able to be done we still will have a chance to do them Wednesday or Thursday.  If you bring them in for the first time on Thursday and we are not able to do them, you would have to keep the cats over the weekend to try again on Monday.  For this reason, we do not recommend trying to trap Wednesday night.

We allow a max of 2 feral cat appointments and/or standbys per owner per day.

If the cat recently gave birth, the mother needs to be 12 weeks postpartum, and her kittens need to be at least 12 weeks old and 2 lbs.  Please note, since feral cats cannot be handled safely by the veterinarian or vet techs, they may not receive a pre-operative physical exam

At drop off on the day of surgery, you will have the option to add additional services for the feral cat.  Any costs associated with those services will be your responsibility to pay at drop off.  The grant does not cover additional expenses or services.  Additional Services Include:
FVRCP Vaccine, Feline Leukemia Vaccine, deworming, flea medication, ear mite medication etc.

Reminder: All feral cats MUST be in a humane wild animal trap (one cat per trap).  We do provide traps for you to borrow if you do not have any.  You may check out two traps at a time at a cost of $100 each, which would be refunded or used for services requested if the traps are returned to us not damaged. You can also contact Cumberland County to rent a trap from them.  Contact Jennifer at to get more information about renting a trap from Cumberland County.  Some examples of acceptable traps can be found at:

The cats will be given a shot for pain (included in the cost of the surgery) that should last 3-4 days so they should not be in pain while healing.  We recommend that feral cats, especially females, be kept in the trap for at least 72 hours when you take them home so you may observe their incisions and any signs of possible infection.  Male cats need to be kept 24-48 hours at minimun to ensure anesthetics have left the system and it is safe for them to be outside.

Call with any questions – 910-400-7692 (SNVC) or you can email us at

Apply for the grant here:

If you live in Cumberland County and are interested in getting a feral cat spayed/neutered, we may be able to assist with the costs. To inquire, email us at and put “Cumberland County feral cats” in the subject line 

Tips for trapping a feral cat 

  1.  Plan when/how to trap the cat, setting a trap no more than 2-3 days prior to the day of surgery.  Being in a trap is stressful for a cat; never have more than one cat in a trap. Use a high value food such as canned cat food, canned tuna or chicken or sardines to entice the cat into the trap.  
  2. Always remember, once you have a cat in a humane trap, do not let it out prior to surgery.  Once released from a trap, it is unlikely you will be able to trap that cat again!  Take this opportunity to provide all the basics at the time of surgery (vaccinations, testing, parasite treatment or prevention, etc.) 
  3. Cover the trapped cat.  Covering the trap with a sheet or towel will help keep the cat calm. 
  4. Always be careful handling the trap.  A trapped cat will be frightened and may lash out with claw and/or teeth if you make your fingers accessible.  Know how the trap works BEFORE YOU START TO TRAP so you do not accidentally release the cat from the trap. 
  5. Safely transport the cat to the veterinary clinic.  DO NOT transport a trapped cat in the trunk of a car, the open bed of a pickup truck! 

Feral cat post-op care 

  1. Set up a SAFE recovery area.  The area should not be too hot/too cold; it should be dry and free of other animals (family pets, predators, snakes, etc).   The trapped cat has no way to defend itself.  Consider using enclosed garages, bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements. 
  2. Temperature control is critical!  The ideal temperature is about 70 degrees.  After surgery, having had anesthesia, cats cannot control their own body temperature.   
  3. Ensure the trap is stable. It should be on an even surface and insulated from the ground.  If placing the trap on the concrete floor of an enclosed garage, you may want to set it a few inches off the ground by using something like 2X4s or a wooden pallet.  Placing the trap on a table will allow you ease of access to provide care.  Wherever the trap is placed, prepare the area by placing a tarp/shower curtain/trash bag on the surface and cover with layers of newspapers.   
  4. Monitor the cat REGULARLY.  You must monitor the cat for signs of bleeding,  lethargy, vomiting, difficulty breathing and loss of appetite.  The incision should be monitored for discharge, inflammation or signs of possible infection.  Do not open the trap to check the cat, when you see an issue call your veterinarian for advice about further care. 
  5. Feeding the cat and keeping the trap clean is important.  The cat should always be provided with water and should be fed twice a day.  The cat will urinate and defecate through the trap onto the newspapers/liner you have placed beneath the cage.  These materials must be changed several times a day.   
    1. If you can devise a “trap divider” using towels, you can more easily keep the cat fed and the environment clean.  The dividers keep the cat at one end of the trap while you clean the other end and place food and water in the trap. 
    2. If a trap divider is not available, you may:  
      1. Very carefully slide food into the trap.  This must be done so you do not release the cat or place your fingers in the trap.  The door to the trap is raised just enough to slide through food (placed on a plastic plate or plastic lid).  It is useful to have a piece of dowel or a stick to aid in pushing the food and water containers through the gap without risking injury.   
      2. If you think risk of the cat escaping is too great, you may try the “paper plate” method.  Using canned food (as it has more moisture), turn the food onto a flattened paper plate.  Place this directly beneath the trap so the food oozes up through the trap floor.   This, of course, is not ideal but it may be necessary.
  6. Releasing the cat.  Return the feral cat to the area where it was trapped; this is the area it is familiar with.    A male cat typically requires 24 hours of care in a trap; a female may require 48-72 hours or even longer.  If you believe the cat may require care longer than 72 hours for recovery, you want to consider using a recovery crate for post-op care.   

Other resources to help you plan for your feral cat’s care and post-op care are below.  There is information available on TNR (trap, neuter and release), feral colony care, making feeding stations and cat shelters.   


Alley Cat Allies ( – Step-By-Step Guide to Trap-Neuter-Return 

Alley Cat Rescue 

Cumberland County (NC) Community Cats 

Neighborhood Cats ( – has a great step-by-step plan for feeding the cat and cleaning the trap with a cat in the trap ( 

Setting/Baiting a Trap – Seeing a trap in action