Thankfully, I’m pleased to report that this large, seemingly never-ending, TNR project is finally wrapping up!
When we started we walked around the neighborhood and knocked on doors to gather information and teach people about TNR. We met a wide variety of people from many different socioeconomic classes. One big dude in particular was very gruff and intimidating. He wanted to know what the hell we were doing on his porch. As we tried to explain he got more angry and impatient, telling us he’s a busy man who doesn’t have time to sit and watch the happenings of the community cats. We explained a little more, hoping that he might soften.
It worked. We explained that we were going door to door to learn about the cats so we didn’t inadvertently trap someone’s already altered pet cat. This tidbit of information changed everything. Suddenly we were friends, working on the same team. He told us about his two tabby boys who he had rescued as kittens and had altered at the same spay/neuter clinic we use. He went on to tell us how much he loves that clinic and the service they provide for the community. He especially loves their newsletter, which is filled with hopeful and encouraging stories. He was thrilled to know we were helping the community cats in his neighborhood and he went on to provide information about some of his neighbors and their cats. Hearing his experience of his neighbors certainly helped me understand his distrusting attitude toward people.
When we drew up our plan for trapping, we decided to focus on different parts of the community one at a time. The time had finally come to start trapping near this guy. Needless to say, I was nervous.
When I checked the traps early this morning, I found one non-eartipped tabby, who seemed friendly. Hmmmm. I decided to do a thorough inspection of his or her backside and determined confidently this was a girl; a large girl, but definitely a girl. I didn’t know if she was spayed already or not, so that would be something the clinic would have to determine for me.
And wouldn’t you know it, the cat was a neutered boy. Can you guess the expletive that raced through my mind?! Could this be one of the gruff dude’s cats? Oh my. Since the cat had been sedated at the clinic, I couldn’t release him until the next morning, which meant that if this was this guy’s cat, he most likely would be missing him. As I was driving to the site to check traps, it occurred to me that I had to ask the gruff dude if this was his cat. But how would he respond? I figured he would either rip me a new orifice or maybe, just maybe, he would be understanding. I called one of my trapping partners and we discussed how best to approach him.
I was a bit nervous as I walked up to his door. And sure enough he greeted me with the “What the hell are you doing on my porch?” intimidating attitude. I quickly tried to remind him who I was, that we had already met, and he had already determined we were on the same team. Thankfully, he remembered me.
I explained the entire situation to him, that I had trapped this cat, mistakenly thought it was a girl and only found out post-clinic that it was a neutered boy, and thus wanted to find out if by chance it was his. He said one of his cats had been missing all day and he was really worried about his unusual disappearance. He was worried enough to call his family and share his grief with them. He took one look in the carrier and identified him as his beloved kitty. Then came the moment I was most worried about – how would he respond after hearing that his beloved cat was taken to the clinic and given a rabies and FVRCP vaccination and was treated for fleas, mites, and tapeworms, all without his consent? Can you guess his response? A knuckle sandwich? Irate attitude? Understanding?
He was way beyond understanding, he was grateful. Grateful enough to shed tears and insist that I accept a financial donation in appreciation for all we are doing to help the community cats. Feeling bad for having taken his cat and causing him so much worry, I tried hard to refuse the donation, but he insisted. He invited me inside and showed me pictures of his cats as kittens and told me the story of how he rescued them (or they rescued him). He said he was so very grateful that I was willing to approach him about his cat and that some people might really be angry for having their cat worked on without their approval, but that wasn’t him.
Wow! I couldn’t believe it! I left feeling like Tiger-Bob had really given me a beautiful gift – not the money, the gift was that he shared his soft, compassionate heart for animals. A gift that gives me hope for humanity. Thank you Tiger-Bob!