Project Guardian

The responsible choice for outdoor cats.

HAWS’ Outdoor Cat Spay-Neuter Program

How does Project Guardian work?
Thanks to public and private support, including a generous grant in 2017 from the Petco Foundation, HAWS’ SNIP clinic is able to provide FREE assistance to Waukesha County residents. Donations are always welcome.

HAWS’ Project Guardian is designed to combat cat overpopulation in Waukesha County by controlling and reducing the number of feral/outdoor/barn cats living in our rural areas. These cats are not socialized, and are either born outside never having lived with a human or a stray cat that has reverted to a wild state.

Years ago, feral or wild cats brought into shelters were considered not adoptable and therefore euthanized after their stray hold period had ended. HAWS does not euthanize healthy, wild animals that come into our facility – and we understand outdoor cats could also be considered wild. With Project Guardian, these cats are trapped, spayed or neutered and then returned to the area they came from. The people who have trapped them are to provide some type of shelter, food and water for the cats.

To participate:
Your first step is to contact HAWS’ SNIP clinic at 262-542-8851, x109 to make an appointment!
• Trap your outdoor cats and bring them to HAWS (trap rentals are available).
• HAWS will perform the spay or neuter surgery, vaccinate each cat for rabies (12 weeks and older) and give the cat an identifying ear notch.
• Cats must weigh at least 2 pounds to be eligible for surgery.
• Generally, cats may be picked up the same afternoon as surgery.
• FIV/Feline Leukemia testing is available for a minimal fee.

Trapping Instructions
Unsocialized cats, like any wild animal, will strike out when frightened and be unable to escape. NEVER stick your hand or fingers inside the trap! Always wear gloves for protection.
• Use a separate trap for each cat. You will be more successful if you trap as many cats as possible in your first trapping session.
• Enticing baits include tuna, sardines in oil or mackerel. If using a moist cat food, use a brand such as Fancy Feast which is highly desirable to a cat.
• Use lids or very small containers as needed to hold the bait.
• Cover the trap with a large towel or sheet or a plastic tablecloth, which allows moisture run-off during inclement weather. Cover the trap’s sides and top BEFORE the cat has been trapped, as this will calm the cat and lessen the risk of injury once inside.
• Be sure to withhold food from the cats you intend to trap for 24 hours prior to trapping, as this will ensure the cats are hungry enough to enter the traps.
• Prepare the trap away from the trapping site so the cats aren’t scared off.
• Check the trap every 2 hours if possible.
• Keep the trap covered for transport, as this will calm the cat. It’s normal for cats to thrash about inside the trap initially.
• Release the cat where it was trapped. Uncover and open the doors and walk away.

Stress in Outdoor Cats
A trapped cat loses control over its environment, which can produce intense stress that may affect their health and prolong recovery from surgery. Remove anything from the area that might be perceived as a threat, including loud or vibrating machinery and radios. Realize that they will not be consoled by your talking to them and that a quiet environment is best. Use a fully enclosed vehicle to transport a trapped cat, not a pickup bed or car trunk. Secure the trap so it does not tip or roll, either from the vehicle’s or cat’s motion.

Support HAWS’ SNIP and
Project Guardian!


HAWS' Seeking Sanctuary program

Shelter a cat in your barn, stable,
winery or warehouse.
Learn how, here.

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