After surgery, cats should be returned to the same location they were trapped. At OAR, cats and kittens are kept overnight after surgery Monday through Thursday to allow the anesthesia to fully wear off; the cats can be safely returned the next day. If your veterinarian does not keep the cat for recuperation overnight, we recommend keeping them in a temperature-controlled garage, basement, barn, bathroom, or the like for the night to ensure their safety (food and water should be provided in the trap). Please note that OAR does not hold cats overnight on Fridays; if you cannot keep the cat overnight, please do not trap the cat for surgery on Fridays at OAR.
Keeping the cat for longer than 24 hours after surgery isn’t necessary – the anxiety of being in the trap outweighs any benefit they might get! Release the cat the day after surgery. Being returned to their neighborhood allows them to live a rich, healthy outdoor life without contributing to cat overpopulation.
At OAR, we often get calls about relocating cats. Relocation for feral and stray cats should always be a last resort. Cats are territorial animals – they are familiar with their habitat, where they can find food and shelter, what dangers might lie in what dark corners, and what other cats they can play with or should avoid. When you remove a cat from their familiar territory, they will inevitably try to return to the place they know – and will often get irretrievably lost, injured or killed in the process. If you relocate them to an area with other cats, the new cat will typically be run off by the existing colony as they defend their own territory. Additionally, consider this: if there are too many cats around you, and they’re becoming a nuisance, there are undoubtedly too many cats in the place you’re planning to relocate yours! There are far fewer ideal outdoor habitats for community cats than there are cats to inhabit them. So before you decide that this cat would be safer somewhere else, please consider these dangers!
If there is no other option for the cats (e.g., the site is a construction zone), make sure you relocate properly. Cats should never be simply dumped at a location. Cats should be kept enclosed at the new site for 2-4 weeks and fed at that site so that they begin to associate this new location with food and shelter. Enclosures include barns or horse stalls that can be effectively closed up, large dog kennels, or garages. Ideally, the enclosure can be placed in the area where the cat will be fed when it is released – but make sure that the cats can get out of the elements as they need to. For more information and resources for relocating properly, contact the Community Cats team.