Winter is The Time to Trap!
Updated: Dec 19, 2022
Often I hear from people that they do not trap during the cold months. We at Whiskers Rescue completely disagree! Winter is the one time of year that there are few surviving kittens on the streets to worry about finding placement and homes for. Winter is the one time of year we get just 5 minutes to catch up and prevent the spring influx of homeless kittens. So grab your mittens and a thermos of coffee and get trapping!
Lets start with some math. I have found young kittens as early as mid Feb. Lets say they were 2 weeks old so born around Feb. 1 . That is NOT when the problem started though. Female cats are pregnant for about 2 months. So for them to be born on Feb. 1, Mom was breeding on Dec 1 !!! Now most kittens are found not only a bit later but also older. So if you count back by their age and subtract 2 months you know when mom should have been spayed ideally.
Winter has HUGE benefits in trapping.
Fewer kittens to find
Fewer moms with new born kittens to race back to their colonies
Snow makes it easy to see where cats are coming and going
TIME! Time to trap and stop the influx of babies that will have no place to go
Now while winter is always my favorite time of year to trap, there are a few things we need to watch for. WATCH the weather daily. It is best not to trap a cat in 50 degree warmth and release 3 days later in 2 feet of snow. You want to look for what is coming a few days beyond trapping day. Surgery does make it harder to maintain body temperature so you need to make sure you have an indoor climate controlled location for cats to recover. You can also ask the clinic to let you pay them to hold for a couple of days if this is not possible.
The concern with winter trapping is often a "bald" cat. Even with female cats, the area that is shaved is small. You can remind your vet that it is cold and to shave as little as possible. If you provide your cats with shelter, they will in large part be protected. If they opt not to use your shelters, they can still sit in "turkey" position with their paws on the ground. For males this is even less of an issue.
Remember that winter only ends in one way and that is spring. Spring brings babies! Just like humans, cats are pregnant for a period of time. If you find kittens in the beginning of March, they were bred in December! The clock is ticking so you want to work fast and not be one of thousands of cat lovers facing dozens of sick kittens in the colony they feed.
As for us humans, prep is everything! Dress warm. Warmer than you think you need to. 5 minutes in the cold is NOT the same as 5 hours. Heat your bait. Microwave it all and keep it in an insulated pack so you can refresh frozen bait constantly. Be sure to bring something warm to drink. Elizabeth and I have trapped for a dozen hours in 8 degree weather and as always, we have caught cats.