After moving into her neighborhood in Kona, Hawai’i a couple years back, Srimoyee Chakraborty discovered something peculiar on walks with her two dogs. Every few months, kittens would emerge from the woods nearby. 

“I noticed that the kittens were multiplying like crazy! So I tried to see if they were adoptable and find homes for them,” said Srimoyee, who soon realized that most people weren’t interested in adopting the kittens because Hawai’i Island is already over capacity, so to speak.

Aloha Animal Oasis Trap King 

“I shifted my focus from finding homes for all the kittens to helping reduce the island’s free-roaming cat population. The first step was to get a trap from Aloha Animal Oasis,” Srimoyee shared. Aloha Animal Oasis walked Srimoyee through the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) process of using the provided trap to catch a free-roaming cat (also referred to as a community cat that doesn’t have a home) that needs to be spayed or neutered, taking it to a scheduled neuter clinic, and then returning it to the location where it was trapped.

Admittedly, Srimoyee was nervous about trapping the first free-roaming cat. “I knew I had to drive to the location where it was living, trap it, and put it in my car. But I wondered if the cat would even walk into the trap. It finally did!”

Since trapping that first cat, Srimoyee has become something of a neighborhood “trap king,” a term of endearment for anyone who volunteers to get the cats in their neighborhood fixed. At least 10 cats later, Srimoyee has refined her trap-neuter-return methods and is happy to share them with aspiring trap kings. 

“Having a system in place beforehand really helps. This includes establishing a relationship with the cat before the date of the clinic. I do this by feeding the free-roaming cat for close to two weeks before trapping them, so they get used to me and the feeding time,” Srimoyee said. “I start putting the trap out after about a week. I don’t set it. I just put the cat’s food outside the trap and gradually put the food in it for about three days.”

When Srimoyee first began helping trap the cats in her neighborhood, there were so many new felines on a consistent basis that it was a process she had to repeat almost monthly. In the past six months, however, Srimoyee hasn’t found any new kittens, which is a testament to her TNR efforts! 

“Initially I thought the cats would hate me and never come near me again because I trapped them. But they still come running up to me when I go to feed them! In fact, I had one female that was unusually difficult to catch. She had already been pregnant three times before and the pregnancies were taking their toll on her health. She was too skinny,” says Srimoyee, who is quick to point out that she’s just someone who realized that something needs to be done about the cat population and decided to get involved. “There was another cat that I had also trapped and she was so friendly to me after I released her. I think our relationship made the hesitant female trust me enough to let me trap and fix her too. Now she’s gained weight and is so much healthier!”

While Srimoyee has many examples of how rewarding it is to be a “trap king,” her favorite might be the story about a tiny cat she picked up from the middle of the road one rainy day. He was malnourished and suffering from eye and chest infections. 

“Even though he could barely see anything and couldn’t eat much, he wanted to play with everything he could lay his paws on. Instead of releasing him, we kept him and named him Mushroom. And one year later, he is still the same cat, but healthier and happier. He always wants to play! We are so lucky to have found him!”

Trap King 1

Mushroom a year ago…

Trap King 2

And Mushroom today! 

It’s “trap kings” like Srimoyee who are taking a proactive approach to helping our island’s cat population that make all the difference in the long run! Thinking about trapping free-roaming cats in your neighborhood that aren’t ear-tipped, and need to be spayed or neutered? Traps can be loaned out by Aloha Animal Oasis so please contact us today.