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Feral Cat Program – Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) in Edinburgh & Fife

There is a fast growing number of stray and feral cats throughout the East Central Scotland area.  Colonies, or large groups of cats are popping up all over Edinburgh & Fife and with each passing year it definitely feels as if the numbers are growing and we are falling further and further behind in our efforts to curb this wild population.



Most feral colonies in well populated areas often start out as a result of a few formerly owned cats either being abandoned or lost.  They are often not neutered so find a mate quite quickly and before  you know it you have 2 or 3 generations of now feral kittens and cats running all over the place who have never been exposed to positive handling by humans.   The end result is several large colonies bursting at the seams with numbers and food supplies struggling to meet the demands of 20 or 30 cats where once there were 5-10.

This in turn can cause a massive social disturbance.  Not least by the numbers of cats calling and fighting over food supplies but the constant yowling of fighting cats or in season females.  Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue receives many calls each week from members of the local communities who are at their wits end on what to do with these cats, which through their wild nature, the vast number of rescues simply don’t have the facilities to take them in and place them.

Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue have always operated a Feral Cat Program and have over the years discreetly trapped, neutered and returned many many cats improving the environment for the people living in the affected area but also greatly improving the health and well being of the cats that live there.  Benefits of TNR programs include:

  • Nuisance mating behaviours such as fighting tom cats and yowling females is gone.
  • Cats are calmer generally and there is less / no fighting over territory.
  • Cats are much healthier prolonging their lifespan. They gain weight and have much thicker healthy coats.
  • Reduces the cat population in the area by removing the ability to reproduce.

More importantly with all of the above,  relationships between local residents and the cats themselves improves creating a more positive, harmonious living environment where cats and local residents can live together.  All these cats require is a food source and shelter which they typically source for themselves in or under sheds or local buildings or in some instances people we refer to as feeders or Feral Caretakers, will sometimes put rabbit hutches or pet houses in their gardens for these cats to shelter in.

In the instance of industrial feral cat colonies the same benefits apply but the added benefit particularly relevant to industrial sites is that may of these cats take up the role of working cats by keeping the population of rats and mice at bay thereby protecting local business investments in stock, buildings and equipment.

Please CLICK here to Donate via the CAFDonate Portal

What does Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) involve?

Example of a humane cat trap

Example of a humane cat trap

TNR describes very clearly the steps that we must take to ensure the safe capture, neuter and release of the cats within a feral colony.  We use safe humane metal traps that will not harm the cats in any way and require only that a cat trigger a pad in the trap and the door closes behind them.  In some instances more manual intervention is needed and so Paul built his own remote control trap out of a door bell!  (those who know Paul will appreciate that comment) 

Once the cat is caught we cover the the trap with a large blanket to keep the cat warm and to reduce stress while we transport them to our local vets where they perform a neuter (male) or spay (female) operation and remove the tip of their left ear.  ‘Tipping’ as it is called is a globally recognised standard on how to identify a neutered feral cat.  Without this kind of identification we would have no way of easily knowing which cats were and weren’t neutered.

Once they have recovered from their surgery the cats are then taken back to the area from which they were trapped and released.  They will return to live their lives in a much less stressed and violent manner.  We try to do all of this with as little human contact with the cats as possible as handling and interacting with these cats is very stressful for them and our objective at all times is low stress for the cats. 

We will always ensure that there are people we refer to as Colony Caretakers in the area, typically formerly known as the cats feeders, to watch over and make sure the welfare of the cats is good and report back to us with any concerns.

 Please CLICK here to Donate via the CAFDonate Portal

Current Areas & Feral Cat Programs


We are currently focusing our Feral Cat Program on 2 sites.  Firstly in the locality of Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue which takes in primarily Lochgelly, Cowdenbeath, Lochore and Ballingry but also other towns surrounding Lochgelly.

Ballingry in particular has an enormous issue with stray and feral cats and as such are trying to focus our attentions on a particularly bad area of Ballingry where we estimate a colony of approx 50 -60 cats in total over 2 streets whilst also working to TNR others in sporadic areas around these towns.

West Lothian

With the assistance of one of our volunteers Moira and her team based in West Lothian we are currently tackling a massive TNR project throughout the Grangemouth, Falkirk and surrounding areas.  Our current focus in this project is around the site of a very large Recycling Plant in an industrial location.  The site owners are great in that they are happy for the cats to remain on site as their home and many of the workers already feed the cats on site and are happy to remain their caretakers.  The cats here are working cats and they are most definitely doing their job as workers have never so much as seen a rat! Not many recycling plants could probably say that however this one in particular has estimated colony numbers of 40 -60 cats.

It is a vast sprawling location and there are lots of very heavy machinery such as JCB’s, forklifts and balers for the cats to manoeuvre and not all of them are lucky to have long lives but they are content and for many that is all they have ever known.  We took over this site around June 2016 neutering roughly 1-2 cats per week but there are still many more to be caught at this location and then efforts will need to continue throughout the industrial area.

Please CLICK here to Donate via the CAFDonate Portal

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How You Can Help

Funding all these activities takes a wealth of volunteers time, patience, fuel (in travelling) but most of all money.  Equipment has to be purchased such as traps, restrainers and carry cases for release.  Then there is the veterinary fees associated with sedating, neutering, worming and flea treatments which all adds up to several thousands of pounds each colony and community we help.

There are a few ways that you can help us to continue this work which includes:

Donating to our feral projects.  You can DONATE by TEXT to 70070 by sending SHCR16 £5 or donate by debit/credit card, Direct Debit or PayPal via our online donations portal from CAF Donate at the link below.  Using our online donations portal you can also Gift Aid your donation making it worth 25% more to the charity i.e. £10 donations becomes £12.50 with Gift Aid at no additional cost to you.

Please CLICK here to Donate via the CAFDonate Portal
Alternatively you could also help fund the program by:

  • Organising collections of good quality bric a brac, homewares, unwanted gifts, jewellery, good quality clean clothes,  CD/DVD’s and games for various consoles that we can use to sell and raise money for the TNR programs. 
  • Organising Tea Parties, Bake Sales or a raffle / tombola with friends or colleagues at work.

Feral Cat Programs are exceptionally hard work but at the same time very rewarding as you see formerly cowering, scared cats spending their days living in the shadows and fighting turn into settled, playful happy cats who love sun bathing and playing in the grass.

Could you become a Colony Caretaker? 

Being a colony caretaker is where you are responsible for monitoring a colony and ensuring their welfare. You would log which cats you have in the colony,  make sure they are fed regularly, log any new cats for neutering, identify any needing medical care and make sure they have adequate access to food,  water & shelter particularly in the winter months.  

Like all aspects of working with cats you get back tenfold what you put in and there is absolutely nothing more rewarding than seeing scared skittish ferals rolling about on their back in a garden & chasing butterflies!

We would like to say a very heart felt thank you to each and every one of our supporters that continues to help us provide such a critical service to the feral cat colonies around Edinburgh & Fife.





Update on Air Conditioning Appeal

We would like to say a heartfelt THANK YOU!!! to everyone who helped with our appeal for funds to install new air conditioning units in the new cattery as our old unit held together with gaffa tape & hope was rapidly falling to bits.

Our lovely new fully working air con units.

We had identified the 3 units we would need which are fed by external inverter units that would provide cool air in summer, warm air in winter and with added dehumidifier functionality too.

Our budget for this was £1500 and we were overwhelmed by the support so many of you showed for the harbour babies who were literally melting in the summer heat and it was hindering their recoveries.

We would very much like to add an enormous special thanks to Yvonne & Peter Radcliffe whose company ETL Air Conditioning stepped in to help us with the purchase and installation of the air conditioning units within our limited budget.

We can now confirm the units were delivered and successfully installed by Yvonne’s company who sent up one of their engineers from Yorkshire to install the system.  Not only that we also have a fantastic warranty on the units as well for peace of mind should anything go wrong with any of the units and help is only a phone call away!

We truly cannot thanks all of you amazing, special people who supported our appeal enabling the Harbour Babies to now be enjoying fantastic climate controlled rooms, while the rest of us melt in this heat!!

As always none of this would have been possible without the amazing, unstinting support so many of you show for the harbour babies and ensuring they receive the very best of care.

Without amazing, kind and generous people such as you we truly could not continue to do the work we do to keep the stray & abandoned cats throughout the region safe, loved and with all the veterinary care they require.

On behalf of the kitties Paul & I send our very heartfelt thanks to each and everyone of our donors and to Yvonne and her team for making this a reality and giving the babies such a fabulous outcome.

Thank you so so much.

Sarah & Paul

Keep Kitty Cool Appeal – Help replace a failing Air Conditioner Unit

A little background….  Click to Donate to Our Appeal

Many people will know about our new cattery build that we have been working on for the best part of 2 years now trying to get to the finish line.  It’s been a very hard slog and thanks to some of our amazing friends and volunteers we got the base down ready for the new building carcass to go in around August 2014.

Since then Paul has worked like a Trojan on his little ‘free’ time to design & piece together the building from scratch.

Thankfully Paul is a very experienced builder to trade for over 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge that he has brought to the cattery project not to mention the several hundred hours of working hours that we have not had to pay a builder to do.

Our original plan had been not to put the building into use until such times as all building work was finished but unfortunately the need for space / accommodation with so many stray and emergency cases arriving over ruled that decision and with 2 rooms 99% complete kitties moved in!

They first moved in around Autumn / Winter 2015 and it was great. The building was SO well insulated there was no heat escaping and we needed very little additional heat through last winter.  Fab we thought!!

The problem ……

Our old sorry looking air conditioning unit

Our old sorry looking air conditioning unit

However, we have reached the summer months when it is warm & humid before we were ready with a practical working air conditioning system and Paul’s insulation of the building is sooo good the heat isn’t dissipating making it just too hot for both humans & the kitties despite windows & doors open when we can.

To make matters worse our old workhorse of an air conditioning unit that has worked its socks off for the last 10+ years is failing and currently being held together by gaffa tape and crossed fingers but even running at best it still isn’t sufficient enough to cool the separate areas that the cats are currently occupying.

We urgently need to get an operational air conditioning system installed into the building that allows us to cool each of the 3 rooms independently of one another, keeping temperatures down and reducing humidity for the cats (and volunteers) thus preventing the growth & spread / mutation of viral & bacterial infections keeping the cats safe from infection and healthy.

We have identified the perfect system from Panasonic / ElecticiQ that incorporates:

  • Cooling
  • Dehumidifier function
  • Low Noise – as we are in a residential area
  • Heating for the winter
  • Thermostatically Controlled
Multi Pipe Air Con system

1 part of the new system that will keep the cats cool in summer, warm in winter and remove excess moisture from the air through its dehumidifier function.

The purchase of the system which requires 2 external power / compressor units and 3 internal units will cost £1500 however Paul being a tradesman can install the system so we shouldn’t have any additional installation costs.  The first unit we require is this and the second is here.

The units can be fitted relatively quickly and therefore operational and keeping everyone cool as quickly as possible.

Click to Donate to Our Appeal

Sarah & Paul said:

Those of our wonderful supporters who have known us for a time will know how hard we try not to have to come to you in this way to ask for financial help but we need to fix this issue quickly and as you may know we have had an atrocious year which has caused us to greatly reduce adoption rates since January, greatly reducing income into the charity, whilst still having extensive outlays.  To date absolutely nothing has gone to plan and our funds have been nearly all but completely wiped out.

In an ideal world we would have kept to our plans and not put the 2 near complete rooms into use however the enormous line of stray and sick cats needing help has meant that just wasn’t possible if we wanted to save the lives of cats such as Steve, Oliver, Freddie, Milo, Holly, Jet, Noir and many many more and so what funds we have had in standby have now all gone on their extensive veterinary care and medications leaving us nothing extra to replace the air conditioning unit we have, which you can see from the photo at the top of the page has most definitely seen better days!

How you can help…..

If you could possibly help us cool the kitties quickly and keep them all healthy and comfortable in this heat by donating to our appeal that would be AMAZING 🙂 and there are several ways you can do this…..

Click on (Donate Button) to donate funds online by card or PayPal or use the form below.  If you prefer you can send a postal donation for the kitties payable to Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue which is at 70 Bank Street, Lochgelly, Fife, KY5 9QN.

Other Ways to Help…

Are you having a clear out at home of cupboards or drawers?  or maybe moving home?  Would you have anything that you could drop into our shop that we could sell to raise pennies for the cats at Sunny Harbour?

We are always looking for jewellery, gift sets, candles, home wares, art work, good quality clothes, CD/DVD’s, electronics and more that we could sell to raise funds.

Or if you don’t have many items yourself you could organise a community collection of goods for us that we can either recycle or sell to raise the funds we need to order these air conditioning units and get our hot kitties back into cool chilled kitties!!

Thank you so very much for reading our appeal today and helping in any way you can even hitting the ‘Share’ button is a massive help.  Thank you!

Donating Items to Sunny Harbour – Items in need

Sunny Harbour Cat & Kitten Rescue are always in need of the many items that we use every day in caring for the many sick and injured animals that enter our care. Any donation, no matter how small, is always very gratefully received.  We do have an Amazon Wish List which is kept updated of some of the items we most urgently  need which also provides the ability to purchase at the same time.  You can find this here.

Items that we are always in most urgent need of are:

  • Felix Cat Food / Felix Kitten Food (jelly variety only please as gravy causes upset tummy’s)
  • Cat Toys
  • Bedding & Old Linen such as duvet covers, sheets, towels.
  • Puppy pads /incontinence pads or equivalent.
  • Good Quality Bric a Brac, unwanted gifts and homewares that we can use to raise funds for the cats and kittens at sales such as Car Boots or our shop the Cat Care Centre.
  • Old unwanted DVD/CD, mobile phones and PlayStation or X Box games that we can use to raise funds.
  • Cat Carrier Boxes
  • Stationary – Pads, pens, staples, postage stamps, envelopes,mailing bags, packaging supplies, printer paper etc
  • Washing powder or liquid
  • Thick Lemon Bleach
  • Cleaning Cloths

The following are some of the medical and general supplies in use at Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue should you wish to donate any of the specific items we use everyday we would be very grateful.  The items highlighted with links are those available without prescription.

If you would prefer to make a monetary donation towards the costs of the items listed above please click on the button below to donate funds directly to Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue:

donate button

Alternatively if you would prefer to donate directly to our Veterinary Care Bill, which some people do, you can contact Cameron & Greig Veterinary Surgeons on 01383 611410 and ask to make payment to the account of Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue.

The postal address to send donations to is:

Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue
70 Bank Street

Thank you so so much to all who have and continue to donate to date.  We truly could not continue our work to save as many cats and kittens as we do without your unstinting support.  You are the BEST!

Sarah & Paul Ross
Co Founders


Bedding Appeal

Lily a feral kitten tamed at Sunny Harbour

Lily a feral kitten tamed at Sunny Harbour

Sunny Harbour Cat Rescue go through an enormous amount of linen bedding every year that we use for beds for the cats throughout the rescue.  Generally with taking in sick or very young cats this bedding gets very soiled very quickly and so we have to work our way through piles of donated items every week as it is simply beyond washing.

(I’ll spare you the specifics) 🙂

We are always in need of items throughout the year so if you happen to be having a clear out could we ask you to bear us in mind?

The items we can use most are;

  • Duvet Covers
  • Pillow Cases
  • Fitted or flat sheets
  • Towels
  • Curtains
  • Baby bedding / cot sheets
  • Fleece Blankets (for our older residents)

We do cut up all bedding into bed sized chunks so that we can spread it out and it lasts longer so please don’t worry about sending us in items with a few little holes in them. It really won’t matter to the cats, many of whom this is their first place of safety and warmth for quite some time.

Thank you for reading our appeal and to those who continue to hand in items from time to time for the cats.