Spay/Neuter Guidelines for Feral/Community Cats | PAWS Chicago

Spay/Neuter Guidelines for Feral/Community Cats

Pre- and postsurgical guidelines for Feral/Community Cats

Preparing for Surgery

It is optimal to trap cats the night before surgery. If you are trapping the morning of surgery, please let us know during check-in so we can remove any food from the trap. 

Have a dry, temperature-controlled, private place to keep the trapped cat until you drop them off for surgery. Basements, ventilated/heated garages, mudrooms and bathrooms are ideal.

Please do not keep a cat outside. He could die from hypothermia or excessive heat. If it is too cold or warm outside for you, then it is too cold or warm for the cat. 

A cat may thrash around inside the trap. This is normal. It is very tempting to release him. Please do not. He will not hurt himself if the trap is covered. If a cat has already hurt himself, do not release him. Most injuries from traps are very minor and will be tended to during surgery.

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Pet Eligibility

To be cleared for surgery, pets must:

  • Weigh at least two pounds 
  • Be at least eight weeks old
  • Be in good physical health (no signs of upper respiratory infection)

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Day of Surgery

Appointments at PAWS Chicago are not necessary for up to six feral/community cats per customer, per day. More than six cats will require an appointment. 

  • Feral cats must be in a covered, humane trap prior to entering the Lurie Clinic. We are unable to accommodate the transfer of cats from domestic carriers to rental traps. 
  • Plastic is suggested for protecting car seats and recovery space but never suggested for covering traps.
  • Friendly cats may be in a carrier or trap.

Drop-off Hours: 7:15 – 10 a.m. (Check-in begins at 10 a.m. and will be processed in order of arrival.)

Pick-Up: 5:00 p.m.

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Recovering from Surgery

After surgery, allow the cat to recover overnight in the same covered trap in a dry, temperature-controlled, private place. Again, basements, ventilated/heated garages, mudrooms and bathrooms are ideal.

Keep the recovery area quiet, keep the traps covered, and interact with the cats as little as possible.

The evening after surgery, you may give the cat a few teaspoons of food and water. Carefully open the trap to set down the food and water and replace soiled newspaper. Repeat the next morning, and the following evening, until you release the cat. The cat may refuse to eat due to stress. 

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Returning Cats to the Trapping Site

  • Males can be returned to the trapping site 12 to 24 hours following surgery as long as they are fully awake and do not require further medical attention. 
  • Females need 24 to 48 hours to recover. Be sure all cats are fully conscious and alert before release.

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