Feral and stray cats (TNR)
Trap Neuter and Release(TNR) is a way to keep our feral cat population to a minimum. At the clinic I work it is like the feral cats never end! If it weren't for the people who trap these cats, there would be so many more.
TNR consists of traping the cat, having it spayed/neutered, EAR TIPPED!!, and released back where they came from or relocated to a colony. I stress the ear tip because it is a way for people to identify that this cat has been taken care of. Some people think it hurts (which im sure it is way less painful than the actual surgery, plus they are asleep) but it is more dangerous for this cat to be retrapped and put under anesthesia again. Where I work we have a feral/free roaming cat program for Camden County residents. The program is a lower rate and is designated for our trappers. The program includes spay/neuter, rabies vaccine, and an ear tip. I suggest to people that they should also purchase the distemper shot. Also, in some cases a feline FIV(aids) and FeLV(Leukemia) test is necesary. Most of the time it is not needed because if you are releaseing the cat back to where it came from and it is positive.. then chances are most of the cats in that area are anyway. Unless they are being relocated based on the combo test results, or the cat is nice enough to adopt out, then it is not a must to have the test done.
When doing a combo FIV/FeLV test (whether it is on a feral/stray or on a personaly owned cat) you should always retest to make sure the test was correct. It takes 30-60 days POSTexposure for the results to show up positive. So, if you pick up a stray cat and plan to take it in your house you should ALWAYS quarantine the cat and test it twice.
Back to TNR.
Trapping--> there are traps you can buy (or where I work we rent them out if needed). The traps are called Haveahart. They are a safe way to trap a cat without harming him/her. For the hard cats to trap I usually suggest tying a piece of chicken (like KFC) to a sting and attach it to the back of the trap where the cat will have to walk into the trap to eat it.
Neauter--> again, you can find low cost clinics at the link harliquinnraver posted. Like I said, PLEASE ear tip!!
here is a picture of an example of an eartip. 1/4 inch of the left ear tells colony caretakers and vets that the cat has already been spayed or neutered. Tipping is done because it can be easily seen from a distance that there is no need to trap the cat to be altered.
Release--> Recovery from spay/neuter varies from each individual animal. Males obviously have a less extensive surgery and recover faster. A female takes a bit longer. However, anesthesia takes 24-48 hours to discrete the body. This means that the cat should be kept in a somewhat small enclosed area for AT LEAST the night. My advice to trappers is keep them in as long as you possibly can. A full 7 days is excelent but that is sometimes impossible with a fractious cat who is hurting themselves by banging their face all over a cage. As far as the incision site goes.. a females incision will be located about an inch or 2 below their belly button and it takes a full 7 days to heal (without being bother by licking at it). A male cat only has 2 incisions on their sacks that are sutured externally. This heals up fast. Usually cats do not lick at their surgery sites much. Obvously they will a little bit because that's what cats do, they clean themselves, but they should leave it alone for the most part. With a feral cat there is not much you can do but watch and see what happens. If anything does happen, they may just have to be sedated and then the problem can be fixed.
I'm sure I have left information out. I can go on and on!! Feel free to ask questions or add on. Also, here is a website that shows what a cat spay is--CAT SPAY PICTURES.