With so many feral cats roaming our streets and countryside it is becoming important to spay or neuter as many as possible. They can then be returned to their habitat to carry on the work they do in keeping the rodent population down. Although we have a problem with the overpopulation of cats, we would have a huge problem with the overpopulation of rodents without our colonies of feral cats! Therefore the trap/spay/release programme is now being widely used. There are some points that you should know about prior to getting a humane trap for your local feral cats and taking them to the vets. Once they have had their operation you will need to know when to release spayed feral cats back into their environment.
A feral cat is probably not very good when it comes to social skills. They are not used to human contact and you would be foolish to think that they will be cuddly like a fully domesticated cat. If you undertake the responsibility of trapping a feral cat and having her spayed, you will have to consider what you are going to do until she is fit to be returned to her life out on the streets. Not only do you need to think about when to release spayed feral cats but also her care whilst she is with you.
Once you have your feral cat in a humane trap, make sure that the veterinarian and everyone working with her, is aware that this is a feral cat. She will need to be treated very differently from domestic cats. Firstly she will be very scared as she may have had little, or no, human contact let alone visits to the surgery. Secondly, if the staff are not aware that she is wild then they may receive quite nasty injuries from trying to be friendly with her. The treatment that she receives during the course of her operation and aftercare may well affect her recovery time. Considering when to release spayed feral cats must take into account how quickly they have recovered from the shock of their visit to the veterinarian and their operation. The more they are stressed the longer it will take. When you have her back with you, keep a cover over the cage to keep her calm until you can release her.
She should be kept in the cage for 24 to 36 hours following the operation, assuming that all has gone well. If you think that there may be a problem, take her back to the veterinarian for immediate attention as you need to have her well and back in her community as soon as is possible. This is only a guideline for when to release spayed feral cats. Obviously if she is unwell and at risk of infection this time limit must be extended. You must not release her if you fear she could be at all unwell.