I received an SMS from someone this morning about hearing about an area complained of on the radio this morning. She mentioned that the cats there had been sterilised, but that there was a very messy feeder there. She herself did not reside there but helped to get the cats sterilised. She wanted me to help. She said she did not know anyone there looking after the cats.
Now I know this woman means well and that she's been sterilising cats all over. However, that in itself can be a problem. Sterilising the cats alone isn't enough if you want to guarantee their safety - a management programme IS needed. This isn't the first time that I've been asked to help by her and they usually involve the management getting upset because there is no one to help with complaints. The last time she asked for help was in another case where the cats were sterilised and she and another woman got involved with a misunderstanding with the management that involved them being banned from the premises. I just heard from another source that this other colony she had previously asked for help with, is again facing potential danger - because again there is no caregiver in the area.
What we've been stressing to everyone (and to this woman as well) is that it's really important to run a management programme after the sterilisation. The TC or management committee does not care if the cats are sterilised - what they want to know is whom is going to help them solve their problems.
So here's the thing - sterilisation is great in itself. Don't however expect the cats to still be there the next time you go down if you don't run a programme or know residents there who will at least speak up for the cats. If you're fine with this (or as fine as can be), then at least you know what you're getting into. I know of a woman who does this in an estate she helps out with. She knows that at least this cuts down the number of cats born and that she is helping to control the population. To her, the cats may inevitably get caught - but at least there will be fewer of them caught. She would like to do more but the feeders in the area she helps out with aren't interested in even calling her when there is a problem and she doesn't live there.
If however, you want to protect the cats and try and make sure they don't get caught (and who doesn't?), then you need to run a programme that involves caring for the cats and more importantly to the management, running a programme and letting them know about it. It is best if you are connected to the area somehow - as a resident or if you're working there. Otherwise, if there is a competing claim by someone who is a resident for example, chances are the management will need to tend to side with the other person. After all, it's not your estate or your community.
It's also important to get this done early - and not wait till there is a problem.