If you happen to know of a feral cat colony or feral cats who are in need of your assistance, there are many options and ways for you to help! First and foremost, controlling the colony is essential. This means, trapping, neutering, and returning these feral cats to their colony.
AlleyCat.org has a wonderful resource guide on the How to Conduct Trap/Neuter/Return, and information regarding how to Socialize Feral Kittens. Please see these links for more information and read our information below.
After you've reviewed the guidelines from AlleyCat.org, you will need to rent a trap, find where you can neuter the feral cats and what to do afterwards.
Where to rent trap:
The Silicon Valley area offers many locations to buy and rent traps to help catch feral cats. Palo Alto Animal Services offers trap rentals and information on trap/neuter/return procedures. Peninsula Cat Works loans out traps and takes in cats to distribute to foster homes. San Mateo Pet Supply also rents traps. A great resource for traps, information and altering are local humane societies, such as the ones in Palo Alto (Palo Alto Humane Society, rents out traps) and San Mateo (Peninsula Humane Society, rents traps and offers a voucher for free a altering/immunization package). Traps can generally be bought for around $70, and rented for a deposit fee ($65-$100) and small daily rate ($1.50). Traps also come in different sizes, so be sure to procure a trap big enough for the cat(s) it is intended for.
Where to set up traps:
Feral cats usually live in small colonies in the abandoned spots of communities, living near a food source and some form of shelter. It is recommended that the traps be set up near these colonies, but far enough away so that the cats do not become aware of your presence and scared off, or wary of the trap. The best time to set the traps is soon before cats’ natural feeding time, around dusk. This ensures interest in the bait you will put in the trap: small spoonfuls of pungent smelling, cat-friendly food, such as canned fish. These traps should not be set out in the rain or extreme heat if you do not plan on providing protection for the cat while it is ensnared in the trap. Feralcat.com provides excellent, thorough instructions on how to humanely and effectively prepare for and set cat traps, as well as giving tips on holding and releasing cats.
Where to take cats for spay/neuter:
The best place to take feral cats for spaying and neutering by far is the local animal shelter. These shelters often have low-cost packages available to cat trappers that include the altering and immunizations together, giving the feral cat a better chance at health and survival after release.