Contributing to Feral Cat Colony Support: The TNR Project

Sue_Jen_TNRIn keeping with our mission of immersive hands on training, and supporting social initiatives in New Mexico, we’ve taken on the of trap covers used in the capture of feral cats. For those who don’t know, TNR refers to Trap, Neuter & Release. By trapping and neutering feral cats, colonies become stable and neighborhoods are safer (in many places, cats are also vaccinated against rabies). The traps require a cover to create a cave-like environment -because, as we know, all cats love cardboard boxes– that will attract the animal but also keep them calm once the trap is sprung. Keeping a feral cat calm is an imperative. When I trapped the feral cats (7!) at the factory last January, several of them injured themselves quite badly because the covers were loose towels thrown over them. That experience is how I learned of the great need for these covers.

TNR trapsIn most places in the US, volunteers take up the cause and stitch them together with old sheets but these tend to be rather see through. Other places use old towels but these are not secured either and tend to blow off, traumatizing the animal. The towels are a problem in another way in that they use a lot of resources in washing and drying. It was with this in mind that I began working with Street Cat Hub to design a better cover. I’d make a prototype and they’d test it. Finally after version 8, we got a cover that we all like.

Last weekend, we cut 150 covers in the factory. Yesterday, some of our Spring Boot Camp designers showed up for pre-training and used the trap covers started sorting the cut bundles for “mass” production. We marked placement for velcro and the top pocket (needed for location notes on the animal). We also began stitching them together.

TNR_cover_flatSpeaking of, you can get involved too. We are offering FREE lessons to volunteers who will sew the TNR trap covers here at the factory. If you volunteer, you’ll learn industrial sewing methods and the use of industrial walking foot machines, among other things in our state of the art sewing factory. If you’re interested in participating, so indicate in comments or call me at 505-877-1713. Our schedule is very flexible. You can work during the week or on weekends as the factory is open nearly every day.

I neglected to mention that the fabric for these covers was donated by Hup Pup, a pet product manufacturer. We have also allied with PACA to distribute the trap covers. Now all we need is you!

10 Replies to “Contributing to Feral Cat Colony Support: The TNR Project”

  1. I think this is wonderful. About 6 years ago when I got 5 ferals I fed at my old house, and one lives with me now, I got so nervous and had the traps for about a week on loan, that I made awesome trap covers so they would be OK in the house overnight, twice. They were a heavy duty twill, fitted and with velcro closures. Here’s hoping yours will be as good as mine were. I gave them to the group that lent me traps after TNR was complete. Because, why shouldn’t they have them? and yes, the cats were all calm both coming the night before, and leaving after their return to my house from Animal Humane for that last night. All thanks to the cover. Also an easier ride to Animal Humane as well. So yes, they work very well and were all washable.


  2. […] Spring Boot Camp, using another not for profit project we are doing in the factory. Specifically, we are making trap covers for folks who trap, neuter and vaccinate feral cats (we need volunteer stitchers to sew them and will give you free industrial sewing lessons in […]


  3. […] volunteers learn to use the sewing machines to make the trap covers. You can read more about that here. And yes, I have my own feral cat colony at the factory. I had them all fixed last January. This […]


  4. Hello Kathleen, I know this post is over a year old but I was wondering if this is an ongoing project that you are offering in exchange for free industrial sewing lessons or if it was just a one time thing. I have had your site bookmarked for several months in anticipation of perhaps attending one of your bootcamps. I missed the fall deadline but maybe in the spring. Apart from the bootcamps, do you offer any industrial sewing learning opportunities like the feral cat cage cover project? I will be newly unemployed and homeless (by choice) in September and I am seeking out opportunities related to my interests in sewing and sustainable clothing design. Thank you.


  5. Is there a pattern for these? We could use a few covers in Socorro.


  6. Juanita Martinez June 4, 2020 at 7:40 pm

    Hi Kathleen, I’m interested in your offer to learn Industrial sewing so I can make trap covers for a local rescuer. I would like to use your pattern. I already bought fabric to make 3 covers so far. Please email me if I can participate.


    1. Hi Juanita
      We provide training to people who will make trap covers here in the factory, using our precut materials. We then donate the covers to rescue organizations. I’m thinking you had something else in mind. I do offer training here in my factory, not as part of the incubator but as my business. It is designed/intended for commercial parties so it costs quite a bit more than home sewing classes. Maybe you will have the chance to participate in one of our boot camps?


      1. Juanita martinez June 5, 2020 at 7:57 pm

        No, my only purpose is so that I sew just a handful of covers for a specific rescuer and I bought the fabric for it. It is the same fabric you have used. I asked if you were still offering the free training as described in your blog above so that I can just make these covers for now.


        1. I understand. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with this. We have no funding to provide training, even to those with similar worthy goals. My business underwrites all of ABQFI’s expenses and I’m willing to continue to do that but for two things:

          1. There has to be some kind of recompense to ABQFI. Typically this is in the fruits of one’s labor; products we donate to designated organizations. This is in our charter. We can lose our status if we did things like providing training to people who then independently distribute products they make. We aren’t a training service; we donate goods. That we provide training is a necessary component (and incentive to trainees) to produce the goods ABQFI donates.
          2. Cost effectiveness. As my business pays for everything, the financial sacrifice of my family is minimized by training many people at once. It takes as much time to train one person as it does to train 10 people. Moreover, those 10 people will then create product that ABQFI donates -each person is not creating product (even with their own materials) that they then distribute as they see fit.

          You are asking for something I cannot provide. I cannot cease business operations to set aside the time to train one person on the use of my intellectual property, in order for them to use my machines, my utilities and overhead to say nothing of liability -and in this environment of coronavirus, we have very strict conditions under which we would allow someone in the factory. If we should become a training center in the future, and you signed up for a class during a designated time, we could train you on whatever project the class would include (as opposed to one of your choosing). Surely you can see that yours is a big ask; I cannot provide training ad hoc to someone for free, at a time they prefer and on a project of their choice, using my intellectual property. In fact, I don’t know of an organization in existence that will do what you are expecting of me. I hope you find that.


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