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  1. Toronto Animal Services (TAS) Spay/Neuter Clinics will only accept feral cats for sterilization from a colony caretaker who is willing to take ownership for all the cats within a specified colony that is a) located within the boundaries of the City of Toronto, and b) registered with Toronto Animal Services. The Caretaker must also undertake colony site visits with an Animal Care and Control Officer (ACCO) to evaluate and assess the colony as required.
  2. Only feral cats will be accepted into the clinic. If the cats are social and able to be handled easily we will not normally perform spay/neuter services and the cat will be released to the caretaker unaltered. There may be some exceptions, for example – if the cat is socialized to people and well established as part of the feral cat colony and the caretaker is unable to re-home the cat from the colony at that time, TAS will consider sterilizing the cat to ensure no future kittens are born into the colony.
  3. The colony caretaker must attend a Caretaker Colony Course prior to the clinic accepting cats from a particular colony.
  4. Clinics will give priority to accepting cats from specific colonies where the majority of cats are trapped at the same time, and can be brought to the clinic over the fewest number of days. The goal is to sterilize entire colonies as quickly as possible, as this has been demonstrated to have the best success. The positive impact should be to first stabilize the colony so that it does not increase in numbers, and secondly, to see a reduction in colony size to eventually no colony through attrition. This will also improve the quality of life for feral cats as well as reducing the number of cats placed in (and euthanized) in our shelters.
  5. All feral cats will be ear-tipped which allows ease of identification once released. One cm is removed from the left ear tip in order to visibly identify an altered free-roaming cat to avoid future transport, stress and anesthesia. Kittens are ear-tipped proportionally less than one cm.
  6. Cats must arrive at the clinic in approved traps (2-door Tomahawk traps or approved equivalent) at 8:30 am on the day of their scheduled appointment.
  7. Two pounds or 900 g is the minimum weight for surgery. Kittens weighing less than two pounds will be returned without being sedated or altered.
  8. All cats are scanned for microchips. If a microchip is found, the spay/neuter procedure will not be performed. We will attempt to contact the chip registrant and inform him/her of how the cat was transported to the clinic and how best to retrieve the cat. If we are unable to locate the chip registrant, the cat will be returned to the Caretaker unaltered.
  9. All feral cats will be picked up from the TAS S/N clinic in their traps by their colony caretakers no later than 5:30pm on the same day as their surgery. Cats that are not picked up after surgery as directed will be considered abandoned and handled in accordance with TAS policies and procedures. (Limited exceptions: Any alternative arrangements must be agreed to by the TAS Veterinarian on duty that day.)
  10. Euthanasia of feral cats presented to the clinic for sterilization will be considered in some circumstances. If the examining veterinarian believes a cat is suffering, determines that a cat is in very poor health, or believes that it is inhumane to return the cat to a free-roaming lifestyle, the cat will be considered surrendered to TAS and the cat may be euthanized under the direction of the Veterinarian and without contacting the colony Caretaker first.
  11. We reserve the right to refuse future services to any person who engages in any inappropriate treatment of staff, property or cats.
  12. All practices are in place to insure the greatest safety for the cats while they are in the care of TAS.

Keep the Cat Warm Until Fully Awake!

Keep the carrier or trap in a warm, dry, draft-free and sheltered area where you can check on it frequently. Cats that are not fully recovered from anesthesia are at risk of hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature) which could make the cat become re-anesthetized and perhaps die.

While the cat is still drowsy, keep the carrier or trap in a room that is as warm as possible, ideally near 30 C/85 ◦F. A cat’s normal body temperature is 37.8 C/100 ◦F; it can become chilled in a 21 C/70 ◦F room before the anesthesia wears off. When the anesthesia has worn off and the cat is fully awake, the cat can keep itself warm in a cooler environment.

Cover the cage or trap with sheets, towels or blankets to trap warm air and preserve body heat. If the cage or trap is on a cold floor (example, garage), place a thick towel or blanket under AND over the cage to maintain the warmth and heat. Make sure there is ample ventilation in hot weather, so the cat does not overheat.

Water and Food

If the cat is alert and you have safe access, provide water in a way that won’t spill and get the bedding wet. The cat does not need water if it is eating canned food.

  • For cats over two kilograms/four pounds: provide canned food when the cat is fully awake.
  • For cats/kittens less than two kilograms/four pounds: provide a small amount (15 grams/one tablespoon) of canned food as soon as the cat is awake enough to eat safely.

Provide additional canned food (approximately ½ the amount of a normal meal) two to three hours later. The morning following surgery, cats should be offered a regular sized meal of canned food twice daily while confined in the trap or cage prior to release (see section 5 below).

Normal Surgery Reactions

Ear tips: Some bleeding is expected following an ear-tip.
Males: Expect slight bleeding from the scrotum of a neutered male for the first 24 hours. Larger toms may have more significant bleeding but should not require treatment unless it is felt that the bleeding is excessive.
Females: Many female cats develop a sterile suture reaction. This appears as a bump at the incision site DAYS after surgery. Suture reactions are sterile and do not require antibiotic treatment. The reaction is caused by the body breakdown/resorbing the absorbable suture. This is a necessary and expected result of absorbable suture, and is used so that the external sutures do not have to be removed after the skin heals. Cats with suture reactions feel well, play, eat and otherwise appear normal.

Safely Observe the Cat for the following problems:

    1. Failure to stay awake
    2. Difficulty breathing
    3. Slow recovery. The cat should be able to move around four hours following surgery
    4. Excessive bleeding from the incision (below the tail for males, on the belly for females)
    5. Any abnormalities (swelling, redness, discharge) at the incision site (see section 3 above for exception). If the cat develops these or any other problems that might be related to surgery, seek veterinary attention first. Monday to Friday between 8:30 to 4:30 contact us by phone: 416-338-6281 or via email: After hours contact your veterinarian or the nearest Veterinary Emergency Clinic and then call TAS to notify us that there has been a problem. It is important for the cat’s health and our records/protocol that we learn of any problems as soon as possible.

Safe Release

Unless otherwise instructed or noted on the medical record, cat(s) that are recovering without any of the problems listed in section 4 can be released back to their colony location from the trap or crate 24 to 48 hours following surgery. If the medical record indicates the cat is lactating, she should be released sooner, but ONLY when she is fully awake, moving around easily and showing normal behaviour. Cats can cause injury or damage to themselves, to you or to your property if released while still under the effects of anesthesia due to impaired coordination.