Helping Community Cats: An Interview with Trap Queen Jennifer Barnes

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Guest post by Terri Spruill, Honeycat Cosmetics

TNR stands for trap, neuter, return/release, and refers to the humane trapping of stray or feral cats for the purpose of effectively keeping the population of stray/feral cats down.

Often, these cats live in groups or “colonies”, hanging out together, chilling and making way too many babies. Trappers catch these cats in in humane traps and then take them to a veterinarian, where they can be evaluated and spayed or neutered. Almost all trappers are affiliated with a veterinarian or a low cost spay/neuter clinic.

Once a cat is trapped, it is immediately transported to one of these facilities. Evaluation includes vaccination, deworming and spay/neuter. While sedated, the cat will have the tip of the left ear clipped. This is a universal sign that says, “Yo, I’ve been fixed. Don’t try it again!” Once a cat has recovered from the spay/neuter surgery, it is discharged and returned to its colony or familiar environment. Returning the cat to its regular hang-out allows for familiarity with food, water and available shelter.

The Honeycat Cosmetics cat colony

My company, Honeycat Cosmetics, offers a line of gourmet bath, body and spa products (for people. Sorry kitties, not for you.) Think of us as “Mae West meets Cat Woman.”

All of our products have a feline theme. “Calico-Cuccino“ is our hazelnut latte body scrub, “Cat-Bernet Sauvignon“ is a red wine scented shower gel, “I’m in Heat” is a cinnamon/ginger scented warming foot scrub…well, you get the idea.

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As Bastet, the goddess of cats would have it, there is a colony of five cats behind our office in Jersey City, NJ. We love them and have been taking care of them for over a year. We made swanky, weather resistant, warm homes for them and they have plenty of food and water. But, as cute as they are, we simply could not have a whole bunch of kittens running about, so, we started looking into TNR. We hit the jackpot when we found the Trap Queen.

Meet Trap Queen Jennifer Barnes

Jennifer Barnes, aka Trap Queen, is an independent trapper located in Orange, New Jersey. We have been working with her for quite some time and she is simply the cat’s meow! She has helped us get our colony all “fixed” up! I recently interviewed Trap Queen to get a bird’s eye view of trapping.

What got you interested in TNR?

There were too many stray kittens and cats on my block. One day, when I came to feed my colony, I found that one of them had passed away; that’s when I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t wait around for someone to come along and help me. For like, four months I had been learning about TNR, rescue and paying attention in TNR groups.

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Did someone introduce you to TNR or were you always interested?

There was a lady that I was donating cat food to. One day, she came to visit me and saw all the cats that I was feeding in my colony. She asked me if they were TNR’s. I asked her “what’s TNR?” From there, she explained it and I was hooked!

How long have you been involved in TNR?

I have been TNR’ing since June 2017.

Do you remember your first successful trap?

The first cat that I trapped was named Cheddar and he was caught with a drop trap. He had a huge gash on his neck, was very sick with Felv and FIV. He was in bad shape. His injuries were so bad that he had to be put to sleep. I felt so bad. I never wanted to trap again, but a few months later, I was back at it!

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Do you have pets of your own?

Yes, I have four cats; Unique is ten, China is nine, Coco is five and Princess is four.

What, if any organizations are you affiliated with?

Just me, myself and I. I’m an independent trapper. Once I trap the cat, I take it to a vet that I have a relationship with. He’s very good about taking care of the cats that I trap.

Do you charge a fee for service?

Typically, if the cat is in the city of Orange, NJ I ask the feeder to pay for the spay/neuter. If the cat is located outside of my city, I ask that they pay for my travel expenses.

Tell me a little bit about your background?

I work full time and I TNR. I have three different colonies that I feed, all in different locations. It generally takes me an hour and a half, round trip, by bus to get to my feeding stations. I am ex-military, I was a Marine. I’m a cat enthusiast, I have been fostering and rescuing cats since 2014. I’m breaking stereotypes in the New York metro area: I am a female who traps cats. I’m Trap Queen!

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Do the cats, once returned, stay with their colony?

Typically, yes, they do. They may not come around for a few days, but eventually they will.

Is it easy to trap?

It depends on four elements: how “trap savvy“ the cat is, the environment where the cat is located, the weather, and if the feeder has fed the cat within twenty-four hours prior to trapping.

Is there a difference between feral and stray?

Yes, a stray is a cat that has been abandoned by their former owner. A feral cat is one that was born and raised outside.

Can any of the feral cats be socialized?

It depends on how long the cat has been outside. If a cat is born outside, and is six to seven weeks old, it can be socialized. There are exceptions, of course. It takes a whole lot of love and patience to socialize an older, feral cat. If a stray was once friendly, they may be able to come around again to human touch.

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What is your ultimate goal in TNR?

My goal is educate, advocate and get others involved in TNR. I want to inspire and meowtivate the community to continue to commit to animal welfare.

What is the biggest drawback to TNR?

Compassion fatigue and burnout. It’s important to have a niche and stick with it. If you TNR, then TNR. If you foster or rescue, then do that. It’s important to be aware of your limitations, so that you don’t burn out, give up and quit.

What changes would you like to see in TNR?

Fewer cats in shelters, a significant decrease in kittens born and suffering outside. I want to see less fighting between cats for dominance and territory.

What do you want people to know about TNR?

TNR is life! TNR is rewarding! It is a humane alternative to euthanasia for stray and feral cats.

For more information on Trap queen, please visit her on Instagram and Facebook. You can support her work by donating via Paypal or Venmo.

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About Honeycat Cosmetics:

Honeycat Cosmetics is a line of gourmet bath, body and spa products designed to help you unleash your inner Cat Woman. Their products are made in the US and are absolutely cruelty free: never tested on animals, not by them or their suppliers. For more information, please visit https://honeycatcosmetics.com/

Coming tomorrow:
Giveaway: Win a Spa Basket from Honeycat Cosmetics!

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5 Comments on Helping Community Cats: An Interview with Trap Queen Jennifer Barnes

  1. Debbie Puccio
    July 31, 2020 at 11:17 am (1 week ago)

    Thank you for interviewing Jennifer as well as introducing your new product line of Honeycat Cosmetics…. Thank you BOTH for caring for the kitties as well as taking the time for this very informational and INSPIRATIONAL interview about caring for the “forgotten” cats that are all around us but that many fail to see….Love and Success to you both!!

    Reply
  2. Lola The Rescued Cat
    July 29, 2020 at 3:50 pm (2 weeks ago)

    I had the pleasure of meeting Terri a few years ago, and she’s just an awesome person. As is Jennifer. Thank you for all you do for community cats!

    Reply
  3. Timmy Tomcat
    July 29, 2020 at 11:37 am (2 weeks ago)

    Really a wonderful story of a Queen with a big heart! Well done

    Reply
  4. Rhonda Andersen
    July 29, 2020 at 11:05 am (2 weeks ago)

    Jennifer, you are an amazing, caring woman! This is great education on TNR. Thank you for all that you do!

    Reply
  5. Janine
    July 29, 2020 at 7:03 am (2 weeks ago)

    I’m proud of Jennifer and Terri for all they are doing for the cats. I love the name Honeycat. I checked out the website and the product names are really cute. I hope to try something some day soon.

    Reply

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