Cat Rescue Christchurch offers a desexing service for people who are feeding unsocial stray cats through our TNR (Trap Neuter Return) programme, and takes on kittens under 8 weeks to socialise, desex and home.

Unsocial cats are those that are not friendly enough to be handled. These cats have not been socialised to people and are usually not able to be homed. Trap Neuter Return is a humane, no-kill way of preventing these cats from reproducing, and will also help reduce problem behaviours such as fighting, spraying, yowling, mating, and spreading disease. Read more about TNR and see more FAQ.

Please read the frequently asked questions about stray cats below, before contacting us through our Stray Cat Assistance form. Please note that we are a small team of people who are mostly working as volunteers – only contact us once you have read the information below.

 

Stray Cat FAQ

I’ve found a stray cat – what should I do?
I’ve got a friendly stray cat who needs a new home; can Cat Rescue take him/her?
Can Cat Rescue take older unsocial kittens or adults to socialise and rehome?
I’ve found a sick or injured cat – what do I do?
I found some stray cats and have started feeding them
Why is desexing unsocial strays so important?
But don’t all cats need to live in homes with people?
How can I determine a cat’s gender and tell if the cat is desexed or not?
How can I tell the age of stray kittens?
I’ve found a ‘nest’ of very young kittens by themselves in my garden
There’s a cat coming inside and eating my cat’s food
There’s a cat fighting with my cat and/or spraying

 

I’ve found a stray cat – what should I do?
You first need to check to see if the cat is someone’s cat from nearby, or is a lost cat. Pets on the Net give great advice on how to do this.

You can download a paper collar template, to put on the cat and see if anyone responds (thin card is less likely to rip off).

If you have ensured the cat doesn’t belong to someone, and you can touch and pick up the cat, see below for what to do next. If you can’t get near the cat, he/she may be an unsocial stray. Cat Rescue can help with catching and desexing unsocial strays to prevent them from breeding and producing more unwanted strays. Contact us immediately, before the cat(s) reproduce (and if there are kittens, contact us as soon as you see them so we can catch them young enough to be socialised).

 

I’ve got a friendly stray cat who needs a new home; can Cat Rescue take him/her?
Cat Rescue Christchurch does not have a shelter. We focus on helping unsocial strays by desexing them through our Trap, Neuter, Return program, and uplifting by kittens under 8 weeks of age for socialisation and rehoming. Our rescue kittens are cared for by volunteer fosterers in their own homes until they are adopted into permanent homes.

If the cat is friendly, i.e., you can pat and pick up the cat, we recommend that you rehome the cat via Trade Me. You must have first checked thoroughly that the cat does not belong to someone nearby, or is someone’s lost cat (see question above, “I’ve found a stray cat”). To advertise on Trade Me, put as much information and photos of the cat as possible – the more, the better. Unique personality traits make a cat stand out from the crowd so do mention them! Make sure the cat is desexed. If the cat needs desexing, try Cat’s Protection League’s Feline Fix program for heavily discounted desexing.

Alternatively, you could try a cat shelter such as Cat’s Protection League, however they usually have a long waiting list.

 

Can Cat Rescue take older unsocial kittens or adults to socialise and rehome?
Unsocial kittens, i.e., those who cannot be touched or picked up, have usually been born outside and have had little or no human contact. They can be reliably socialised when under 8 weeks of age. We cannot take unsocial kittens older then 8 weeks for this reason, however if you wish to try to socialise kittens yourself, see here for advice.

 

I’ve found a sick or injured cat – what do I do?
In an emergency, take the cat to the nearest vet or the After Hours Veterinary Clinic if the daytime vet is closed.

Check if the cat belongs to someone nearby.

If the cat can be handled, call the SPCA for help.

If the cat is an unsocial stray cat (i.e., you can’t get near the cat), we may be able to help with trapping the cat for veterinary treatment. Let us know if the cat has already been through our TNR (Trap Neuter Return) program and is in need of veterinary care (the cat may have a left eartip – see photo below).

 

I found some stray cats and have started feeding them
Desexing these cats is the highest priority. Feeding stray cats can help them to produce more kittens, so they must all be desexed immediately. You should only feed stray cats if you are able to continue doing it in the long term, particularly in the case of unsocial stray cats (those that cannot be handled by people), as they are unable to be rehomed.

Cat Rescue specialises in capturing unsocial cats in humane cage traps, for desexing. So even if you cannot get near a cat, we are able to catch and desex the cat! You may think that you can befriend stray cats by feeding them, however this won’t work with unsocial cats who have had little or no handling. Contact us immediately for help.

 

Why is desexing unsocial strays so important?
Cats breed very quickly. Female cats can first go on heat as young as 4-5 months of age, when they are still kittens themselves! Female cats can have 2-3 litters per year, with an average of 3-5 kittens per litter. So you can see how one or a few stray cats can quickly end up to be many cats. Stray cat overpopulation can cause complaints by businesses or people living in the community, and pest control may be contacted and the cats killed. Cat Rescue is a no-kill organisation and Trap Neuter Return is the no-kill way of controlling stray cat numbers. Desexing unsocial stray cats can save their lives!

 

But don’t all cats need to live in homes with people?
All kittens need to be handled at a young age (3-8 weeks of age) to be socialised to people. If they have no or very little interaction with humans at this age, they will not be able to be handled by people. These are ‘unsocial’ cats as they are not socialised to people, and survive on their own outdoors. Most unsocial cats are offspring of abandoned or lost domesticated house cats. They are very unlikely to ever become lap cats or enjoy living indoors, and find it stressful to be put in this position. Also read this article about unsocial stray cats living happily outdoors.

Taking unsocial cats to an animal shelter usually results in euthanasia. Trap Neuter Return is the humane way of helping these cats, by desexing to control their numbers and improve their health.

 

How can I determine a cat’s gender and tell if the cat is desexed or not?

Click here for an explanation and short video on how to determine a cat’s gender.

While you cannot see whether a female cat is desexed or not, you can often tell by looking and/or feeling, whether or not a male cat is desexed. See here for an explanation. The photo at right is of an unneutered adult male cat – note the full testicle sac.

Eartipped catUnsocial stray cats who have been desexed are normally eartipped so that they can be identified as desexed from a distance. The tip of the left ear is removed under anaesthetic by a veterinarian, so that the ear appears flat across the top (see photo at right).

 

How can I tell the age of stray kittens?
Unsocial kittens are best caught and socialised when under 8 weeks of age. For this reason Cat Rescue is usually not able to take on unsocial kittens above 8 weeks.

See here for pictures and information to help you determine the kittens’ age.

If you have known about a group of stray cats for a while and see them regularly, you may be able to work out the approximate age of kittens based on timing. If you know or suspect an adult female cat may be pregnant then notice her disappear for a few days and return not pregnant, note down the date she disappeared and contact us for help. Additionally, mother cats will often keep the kittens hidden away until they are 5-6 weeks of age when they will begin to explore. So when you first sight the kittens, they are likely to already be 5-6 weeks old. Contact us immediately so we can catch the kittens for socialisation and rehoming, before it’s too late.

 

I’ve found a ‘nest’ of very young kittens by themselves in my garden
It is likely that the kittens have a mother cat who will come back to them. Leave them where they are and do not touch them. Contact us for help. If the mother cat is unsocial the best thing is for the kittens and mother to be trapped at the same time, once the kittens are 5-6 weeks of age (weaning age but young enough to socialise and rehome). The mother can be desexed and the kittens socialised for rehoming.

 

There’s a cat coming inside and eating my cat’s food
Cats’ territories do not fit in with human boundaries which means that neighbour’s cats and stray cats are likely to come onto your property or even into your house! Another cat eating your cat’s food is not necessarily a sign that the cat is homeless; many cats are opportunists and will happily eat their own food as well as that of the neighbour’s cats! The key to preventing this is to simply not allow other cats into your house. Magnetic cat doors or microchip cat doors are good solutions as they only allow your cat(s) through the door. Your cat(s) must wear a collar with the magnetic key for the magnetic cat door to work, or be microchipped for the microchip cat door. Sureflap sell microchip cat/pet doors, and a microchip pet feeder that only allows your microchipped pet(s) to access the food (enter promo code ‘catrescue’ to receive a 10% discount and for some of the profits to be donated to Cat Rescue).

 

There’s a cat fighting with my cat and/or spraying
Given that these problem behaviours are usually caused by unneutered male cats, desexing them will often alleviate the problems. Cat Rescue can help you with catching stray cats for desexing.

 

Click here to fill out a Stray Cat Assistance Form