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Feed on

neverending BP saga

It’s been a long, long week of TNR work. Oh my, too long. I haven’t had much time to write up everything, but finally I got a moment. So, here’s a quick summary of last week.

You may remember that a week ago Saturday we trapped three kittens, which left two more to get. Those three were taken to the free spay/neuter clinic, NOAH, on that following Sunday. We learned that we had three girls all about 4-5 months old!

Due to our schedules, we were not able to trap again until Wednesday, so we continued to feed in the traps and waited. We also had to work around available spay/neuter clinic schedules. Wednesday was the day. Traps were set in the morning and a local volunteer who lives near the traps graciously offered to check them every two hours.

A few hours after the traps were set, she called to report we had a cat. That left one more to get! I was thinking the remaining tabby cat might be the mama, because in the pictures it looked big to me. Come mid afternoon the last kitten (an adorable tabby) was trapped, although it was not an adult after all.

The volunteer who checked the traps said she “had a feeling” that there was an adult cat out there in addition to the kittens, so we decided to leave the traps set for the remainder of the day. When the project co-leader went back to close the traps in the evening, low and behold there was another cat! This one was an adult, a black and white! So, by the end of the day we had all five kittens and an adult, which we speculate might be the mama. I felt elated to have possibly gotten the mama!

She transported the cat back to her house to be with the other kitten. The plan was for me to swing by and pick them up so I could transport them both to another volunteer who would be bringing them to the clinic the next day. On the way to her house, I learned from her that she had an accident. She was in her garage with the door open, trying to change the bedding in the adult cat’s trap and the cat escaped. She didn’t have the separator fork anchored well on the other end of the trap, so the cat darted away into the neighbor’s yard and out of sight. My heart sank in an instant. She was beside herself that this had happened.

Now, we had a feral cat loose in unfamiliar territory. Even more troubling was thinking that there is a good chance that if this cat is indeed the mama, she could easily be pregnant again or even worse, may have recently have given birth to a new litter. The idea of a very pregnant cat loose or of young kittens starving to death because their mama didn’t return tears me up.

Adorable tabby kitten!

Even though it was at the end of a crazy long day, it was time to immediately swing into action. I called my TNR mentor, Nancy, and she gave me some advice as what to do. We set traps around the yard, sprinkled the kittens’ used litter and poops around the yard to draw the mama back with a familiar scent. We also setup the kitten we had trapped earlier that day as “bait” to lure the mama back and into a trap. This works by setting the kitten in a carrier and placing it so the only way mama can get to it is by going through the trap.

I got home that night physically and emotionally exhausted. Somehow I still had enough energy to break own in tears. The idea of this cat being on the loose in unfamiliar territory and the possibility of the kittens starving to death was too much. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much that night, I spent a lot of time praying for the safety and well being of the mama and that she would find her way into a trap.

Sadly, Thursday morning the traps were empty. Following the advice from some of the more experienced people from Community Cat Coalition, we made the decision to setup some large relocation cages in the backyard and to place the three already spayed kittens in there, with the hope of luring mama back with the scent of familiar cats. We built a waterproof roof over the cages using wood and a tarp.

First kitten cage setup

When I arrived back at the project co-leader’s house later that evening, she said she had just seen a black and white cat dart across her yard. It was dark outside, and she couldn’t be sure it was the one we were looking for, but I’m holding out hope that it was her.

It was a lot of work setting up those cages in the dark. When we were done it was time to release the three kittens into the enclosure. The first kitten did as it was told and ran right into one of the open carriers at the other end. The second kitten about gave me a heart attack. The carrier it was in was larger than the cage opening, so it was very precarious. I had towels covering most of the openings, but if it was determined to escape it could have. I had the carrier door open and was trying to hold towels everywhere while she was doing the same. In a fraction of a second the carrier became much lighter, the cat had disappeared but neither one of us had seen it move. My heart nearly stopped as I feared the worst. After what felt like an eternity (probably all of about 3 seconds), she confirmed the kitten was safely in the carrier with it’s sister. Thank God!!! I could now breathe again.

Lastly. we set up traps around the kitten cages and set out bowls of food as well. We also setup both wildlife cameras pointed at the kitten cage so we would know if mama paid a visit.

Friday came and still no mama. She had caught two other neighborhood cats but not the one we were looking for. Once the last kitten recovered from her spay, we went ahead and added her to the cage with her siblings. Now we keep waiting and hoping that mama makes her way back and into one of the traps.

Meanwhile, over at the project site the volunteer who checked the traps is continuing to set out food in case there are more cats yet. Today, I was able to borrow another wildlife camera and set it up out there so we can see who’s eating the food.

All this and we still need to arrange the details for a permanent relocation home for these four kittens! One of the five kittens is being tamed and has already had times of purring in someone’s arms! In the end all five kittens were girls! Can you believe it! All girls. It’s hard to imagine that had we not gotten them all and they all had litters of kittens on their own we would have easily had over 20 cats at that one site! Yikes! Thankfully, they are all spayed now!

This late afternoon, another Coalition member and highly skilled specialist at finding lost cats visited and assessed the site. She has an amazing ability to track and trap lost cats, so I’m so hoping her wisdom and experience will help us locate her. She said she thinks there is a 65% chance we catch her. Another Coalition member also visited the site and brought one of her expansive kitten taming cages, which we added to the setup, so now they kittens have nearly double their secured space to romp and hang out.

The current kitten cage setup

This has felt like the longest project in history! It just keeps going and going! The kittens will stay in the cage setup for another week or so, unless we catch mama sooner. It’s difficult to think about how we were nearly done with this project when the cat escaped. But now we have a major ongoing recovery effort.

(updated: 10/31/2012 9:09pm)

9 Responses to “neverending BP saga”

  1. Katie Isabella says:

    It’s 0555 when I finished reading this and you had me on the edge of my seat literally and otherwise! The work, care and love you put into the TNR is awesome. I can’t express how grateful I am on behalf of all of the cats you have all helped.

  2. Fisher says:

    You do such amazing work. Wishing you the best success with the mamma kitty and all the rest.

  3. Marg says:

    Wow, you all sure do such a good job. We personally thank you so much for all your hard work. I hope you catch that black and white cat. I bet she will come back. Or is it possible, she will try to go back to where she was?? Anyway, sure wish I was there to help you. Good luck.

    • thecatguy says:

      It is possible she might try to return to where she was but unlikely, especially since it’s quite a long ways away. When cats get loose in unfamiliar territory the first thing they do is hunker down. After a few days they might go exploring for food. Thus we have put food out immediately on the property we want her to stay near.

  4. Fuzzy Tales says:

    Holy cr*p, Phil, I’m on the edge of my seat just reading this. No wonder you’re emotionally exhausted and strung out. Fingers and paws crossed the mom is caught–prayers going up to the Universe, to Goddess Bast, to the Fates, to whatever benign forces might exist.

    Good luck to you all…No matter what happens, there are 5 girls now spayed, one of whom, at least, who will end up a well-loved cat in a forever home.

    Awesome, awesome work all round.

  5. paws crossed momma cat come back and you can get her. I think that is the worst part sometimes – being so close and missing it. but….you caught the kittens and did right by them. :)

  6. You and your group do such a great job! I know all your hearts are broken that the mama cat escaped. Hoping she comes back and gets caught so she can be taken care of!! xo Linda

  7. Lily says:

    Saying prayers for the Mama Kitty to come back! I am so sorry that this accident happened. Wish all the many animals you work with I would think things like this are going to happen sometimes. You all do such a amazing job and it is helps so many. Blessings on all of you.
    Lily, WA, USA

  8. Pam says:

    not sure you needed to use folks ‘real’ names

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