Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What does Coco's Cat Rescue do?
Coco's works primarily in the Playa del Carmen area to control the population of feral cats through Trap-Neuter-Return, as well as when possible to rescue and rehome kittens under 3 months.
Who is Coco's Cat Rescue?
Coco's consists of a volunteer staff and network of foster families led by founder, Laura Jonguitud Raikes
Is Coco's Cat Rescue a shelter?
No, we are a rescue group and operate primarily out of staff and foster homes.
Is Coco's Cat Rescue no-kill?
We will only euthanize a cat if it is suffering and unlikely to recover.
Can Coco's Cat Rescue take my cat?
Sometimes there are very sad circumstances in people’s lives that make it impossible for them to keep their cats and we are sympathetic to that. While we can assist you with promoting your cat for adoption, we cannot at this time accept adult cats. Due to space limitations we are accepting kittens only. Adult cats can be frightened and territorial and thus need to be separated from kittens and other cats.
If I want to adopt a kitten, can I bring it back to the USA?
YES! International adoptions are simple & relatively inexpensive. The most important is step to take is to check with your Airline in advance. Cats & kittens are easily transported in the airline cabin in a small crate or Sherpa Bag. Each airline has it’s own regulations, but for the most part they can accommodate.
Where is your facility and when can I visit?
If you are interested in adopting a kitten, you do need to make an appointment via email at email@example.com.
How is your rescue funded?
We are entirely funded by private donations, fundraising events, and adoption fees (which are on a sliding scale). We are also working hard to obtain Animal Foundation Grants and support from Pet Food & Supply Companies as well.
What is a feral cat?
Feral is just another word for wild. It means that the cats have not been socialized to humans and that they are afraid of people. It does not mean that the cats are aggressive or dangerous. Feral cats run from people. They do not attack unless they are cornered and feel that they have no other alternative but to fight for their lives. Feral cats are the 'wild' offspring of domestic cats and are primarily the result of pet owners' abandonment or failure to spay and neuter their animals, allowing them to breed uncontrolled.
A pair of breeding cats, which can have two or more litters per year, can exponentially produce 420,000 offspring over a seven-year period, and the overpopulation problem carries a hefty price tag. This overpopulation results in many "throwaways" dying mercilessly outdoors from starvation, disease, and abuse --- or as food to a predator.
Our focus is not on the temperament of the homeless cats living on our streets; this is not the real issue. It is true that most cats in colonies (families of cats) living on our streets are certainly not tame enough to be adopted as household pets. However, whatever the temperament of those cats, the critical fact is that most of those cats have not been sterilized unless trap-neuter-return has been practiced there. As a result it is those cats that are overwhelming responsible, whether tame or feral, for the flood of homeless cats and kittens in Playa del Carmen.
What is TNR?
TNR are the initials for Trap-Neuter-Return.
Trap: Cats are humanely trapped using food as bait.
Neuter: The cats are taken to a veterinarian where they are spayed or neutered. Their left ear is tipped so people will recognize that the cat has been sterilized.
Return: Unfortunately, adult feral cats are extremely difficult to tame and are not adoptable, so they are returned to their original environment where caregivers agree to provide them with food and water.
Studies have proven that trap-neuter-return is the single most successful method of stabilizing and maintaining healthy feral cat colonies with the least possible cost to local governments and residents, while providing the best life for the animals themselves. Studies have also shown that spaying/neutering 75% of the population will indeed promote Zero Population Growth.
Spaying/neutering homeless cats:
I have been feeding cats for a while and they are reproducing. I can't feed them all. What should I do?
As soon as possible, you must trap the cats using humane box traps and have them spayed or neutered. Trapping feral cats sounds complicated; in reality, it is a simple and rewarding process, and it doesn't hurt the cats. When the cats have been spayed/neutered and vaccinated, return them to the place where they were trapped. Kittens up to eight or ten weeks old can often be tamed, sterilized, and adopted out. You and other volunteers must then provide ongoing food, shelter, and care to keep the feral cats healthy and safe.
My neighbors (or the landlords) are complaining about the cats. What can I do?
Ask what their specific complaints are and try to resolve them. The most common complaints regarding stray/feral cats are that they are spraying, yowling, fighting, sick and injured, having more kittens or roaming the neighborhood. Many of these are mating behaviors that subside substantially when TNR and colony management are implemented. If cats are soiling the neighbors' gardens, place (regularly cleaned) sand or litter boxes at the colony site. Consider building a cat fence that will keep cats in (or out of) a specific area. If neighbors voice health concerns, make sure that the cats are up to date with their vaccinations and share their medical records with your neighbors.
Do cats carry rabies?
No, cats pose a very low risk for contracting rabies and spreading rabies, as they are not natural carriers for the disease. Once infected with rabies, cats only live 10-14 days before they die from the disease. Feral cats by nature will avoid human contact.
What is the difference between spaying and neutering?
Spaying is the surgical removal of the female reproductive tract, including the ovaries and the uterus (womb). Neutering is the surgical removal of the testicles in male cats, rendering them sterile. Neutering is often used to refer to either males or female surgeries. Synonymous with sterilization or altering.
I don't want anything to happen to the cats, but they can't stay here. Where can they go?
Why must be the cats be moved? Where will the cats go? With very few exceptions, feral cats should remain at the original colony site. Cats create strong bonds with their territory and with on another. If you relocate them, they may become disoriented and separated from one another. If you relocate the existing colony, new cats are likely to move into the area and form a new colony. There are very few places to relocate feral cats. Shelters will virtually never accept them, they cannot be socialized. If you truly are concerned for the welfare of the cats, it's best to leave them where they are and care for them.
I discovered a group of free-roaming cats, what should I do?
Implement a TNR plan as soon as possible so the colony can become "managed." A managed colony is one in which all of the cats have been sterilized, vaccinated, provided food and provided with shelter from inclement weather. The colony cats are healthier and no longer breeding. The Caretaker regularly monitors the colony and individual cats. Feral cats are dependent on a Caretaker(s) to enact this plan and provide long-term support. Besides the obvious advantage of population control, the cats are better able to care for themselves since they no longer have to put all their energy into producing and caring for off-spring. A properly managed colony is a healthy and stable colony in which no kittens are born. Over time the colony will diminish through natural attrition.
I can't touch the cats, so how can I get them to the vet for spay/neutering?
Do not try to touch them! And never attempt to catch a cat by throwing a towel or blanket over just the cat. Never use tranquilizers on outdoor cats. The risk of injury (to you and to the cat) is too great. Many feral cats die when public health officials insist that unvaccinated cats be killed and tested for rabies after an "unprovoked" bite. As soon as possible, trap the cats using humane box traps and have them spayed/neutered. Don't wait, thinking that the cats will get used to human presence and become tame enough to catch. They won't, and while you wait, several litters of kittens will be born.
I've been told that cats should be indoors only, so isn't it cruel to leave them outside?
The safest place for your tame companion cats may be indoors, but the best and usually the only environment suitable for feral (wild) cats is outside. Feral cats that have undergone TNR and live in managed colonies can live healthy, content, and long lives-often as long as indoor cats. Finding homes for feral cats is not a realistic option. Humane societies, animal shelters, and other animal organizations rarely accept them for adoption because they cannot be touched or held by people and are, thus, "unadoptable."
Why are feral cats eartipped?
Eartipping identifies feral cats that have been sterilized. Eartipping is completely safe and it is painless because the cat is under general anesthetic when the procedure is performed. Eartipping provides immediate visual identification which alerts animal control that a cat is part of a managed colony. It also helps colony caretakers track which cats have been trapped and vetted, and identify newcomers who have not.
I've been trying to trap a particular cat, but the cat refuses to go into the trap. What should I do?
If after repeated attempts a cat will not go into a trap, take a break for a week or two (except in the case of an injured cat). A short break can reduce a cat's fear of the trap. During this time, feed that cat and others in unset traps for several days. Place the food first by the entrance of the trap, then inside, then over a period of days gradually move it closer to the back. Feed in the same place and time as always. The cat will see other cats eating inside the traps and will likely try it, too. ? When you are ready to trap again, withhold food for 24 hours up to three days (for a very "trap savvy" cat). Never withhold water.
Can I use kittens to catch the mother?
Yes, but DO NOT put kittens in the trap set for the mother! If the mother becomes frightened in the trap, she could seriously injure the kittens. Instead, put the kittens in a closed trap or a small cat carrier. Set the trap exactly where you found the kittens. Place another trap directly in front of the carrier, like a train. Cover both traps with a sheet EXCEPT for the trap door of the empty trap. The mother will hear and/or smell her kittens and, looking through the door of the set trap, see her kittens at the end of the "tunnel" in the other trap. Thinking she can get to her kittens this way, she may enter and spring the set trap.
There's a pregnant feral cat outside. What should I do?
You have three options to choose from:
- Trap the queen and bring her indoors to have the kittens. The kittens are more likely to survive if born indoors although the mother may experience overwhelming stress from being confined and become less able to care for her kittens. To reduce her stress, provide a warm, secluded, quiet area for her to give birth and nurse her litter.
- Provide a warm, outdoor cat shelter and the queen may choose to have her kittens in it. There is no guarantee.
- Trap the queen and have your vet determine how far along she is and whether or not to terminate the pregnancy. The mother cat would be spayed at the same time. Some vets will not perform abortions if the mother is close to giving birth, so you should consult your vet, and consider your own feelings, about this possibility ahead of time.
A female cat had kittens outside. What should I do?
You should trap and sterilize the whole family. How you proceed depends on the age of the kittens.
- Don't trap a mother who is nursing her kittens unless you catch the kittens too. Tiny kittens cannot survive away from their mothers for long.
- If the kittens are newly weaned (usually four to six weeks), ask if your veterinarian can perform surgery and return the mother within 48 hours. Even though eating solid food, very young kittens are unlikely to survive without their mother for body heat and protection. (If your vet cannot meet this time frame, wait until the kittens are older to trap the queen.)
- Try to trap the kittens no later than eight to ten weeks of age. The sooner they have human contact, the easier it will be to socialize them.
- At twelve weeks and older, kittens can be sterilized, vaccinated, and returned to the location where they were living outside. Socializing feral kittens after 12 weeks of age becomes much more difficult and less likely to succeed.
I just found a newborn kitten and the mother is nowhere to be seen. What should I do?
Do not be too hasty to move a kitten. The mother may be in the process of moving her litter to a safer area. Watch closely for several hours, but no more than a day, to see if the mother returns. If not, and the mother has abandoned one or more very young (neonatal) kittens, their only chance to survive is bottle-feeding. This is an intensive process not unlike caring for newborn human babies. There's a lot to learn, but once you know it, the process will become second nature. It is important you call your local vet or Coco’s Cat Rescue for assistance.
Where do feral cats live?
Like almost all living creatures, feral cats need warm, dry shelter to protect them from extreme temperatures and wet weather. Cats provided with no alternatives will live under decks, abandoned structures or vehicles or less accessible portions of buildings like the attic or crawlspace. You can build a shelter from plans or use a strong box or crate insulated with waterproof material thick enough to keep out wind and cold. A large shelter can provide a haven for more than one cat.
I am moving, and I can't take the feral cats that I am managing with me. How do I find someone to take over their care?
(This question deals only with feral cats, not with domestic cats.) It will be easier to convince someone to assume care of a feral cat colony if the all of the cats have been spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and ear tipped. Complete this process if you have not already done so. Start making inquiries as soon as possible; this could take some time and you want to have arrangements in place well before your move. If you don't already know your neighbors, introduce yourself and explain the situation. You may discover that others in the area are also concerned about the colony you care for.