Saturday was a long day of TNR. Traps were set and then we waited. And waited.
This is in a neighborhood with a lot of active children. Kids can make trapping challenging as they can scare away the cats, but they can also provide lots of information about the cats. If anyone is going to know what’s going on with the cats in a neighborhood, it’s the kids. This was certainly true in this case.
In the afternoon when I was checking the traps one of the kids said she had seen a mama with kittens. I asked how recently, and she said just a few minutes ago. I asked her to show me where and she went to the back of the yard, picked up a rock and threw it over to where the mama was. I thanked her and told her no more throwing rocks!
The kids kept asking me, what happens to the cats? How do you explain the concept of spay and neuter to little kids?! Then one kid asked how you could tell the difference between boy cats and the girl cats. Too many challenging questions!!
A little while later, one of the kids ran up to me telling me her friend had gotten a cat for me. I went over and a kid was holding Pickles, a super friendly neutered boy who lived down the street. This cat is a very gentle and sweet boy, he adores attention, even by the kids holding him awkwardly. I thanked them for trying and told them I had already worked with Pickles and went about checking traps again. A few minutes later, the girl came up to me again, this time with a large pink shoelace tied around Pickles’ neck. Pickles was clearly uncomfortable so I told her to take it off him now, she promptly dropped the shoelace and Pickles darted away dragging the shoelace – oh my gosh! My heart sank! I looked everywhere for him and could not find him anywhere.
I kept picturing him choking to death or getting caught on something and getting stuck somewhere. I was worried sick and the kids didn’t seem to care. I tried several times to get them to help me look for Pickles but they didn’t invest much effort. A few hours later, when Sue and I were coming back to check traps and look for Pickles, guess who we saw when he drove in? It was Pickles and the string was gone! He must have worked it off himself. I was so overjoyed, I stopped the car in the middle of the street and we both got out and hugged him!
We went on to check the traps and look for the babies. As soon as we approached the nest site, the mama darted out. She is a small black cat. Now, a few days earlier we had trapped a small black mama. The vet at the clinic said she was lactating with 4-5 week old kittens, but we didn’t know where her kittens were. So, we thought maybe this was that same mama and now we found her kittens! We had since released that now spayed and eartipped mama.
We got busy clearing the way and soon enough Sue was snatching up little bundles of cute! The nest was under a pile of vinyl siding in the backyard. We gathered three kittens and didn’t see or hear any more. Sue estimated they are about 4-5 weeks old.
We setup the carrier of kittens with a trap, hoping to catch mom. Then we waited and waited as it rained and rained.
A few hours later we checked the traps. No cat in the trap by the babies. However, in a trap on the other side of the property, we had trapped the eartipped black mama again, so we brought her to the car, not knowing if this was the mama or not. Seemed odd she wasn’t in the trap by the babies but was in a different part of the yard. So, again we waited and waited.
As the night was nearing early morning, I had an idea. We could retrieve the trail camera from a different property in the neighborhood and set it up on the den site, that way we could see if another black cat comes looking for her kittens. If this happened then we could guess that eartipped mama is not the mama of these kittens. There are so many cats at this site, both black and brown tabbies it’s hard to know which kittens belong to which mama. But we want to be sure to TNR all the mamas.
Sunday morning I went back early to check traps, retrieve the camera photos, and to take cats to the clinic. Can you guess what I found on the pictures?
First this cat:
We set the traps all day Sunday and Sue stayed with them all day and night, even with the crazy rain. The reward of all her hard work?
She trapped the fourth kitten! The one that showed up on the camera. I’m so glad we setup the camera there and learned about this kitten, would have been horrible to leave him there all by his lonesome. The camera is there again tonight, so Monday morning we will see what we see.
I don’t have the current cat/kitten count for this project in front of me at the moment, but I think we are at 19 kittens taken from this project so far and maybe around 18 adult cats TNR’ed. These four kittens will be going to their foster home on Monday and starting their journey toward being adopted into good homes. Meanwhile, the trapping goes on…
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