The cat rescue business has been brisk lately, not surprising in cold and inclement weather. I’ll have a few stories coming up to tell you what the heck I’ve been up to since I haven’t posted in two weeks, including a pretty dramatic one tomorrow. Here’s a brief update.
It takes a neighborhood to trap a cat
Denise named this guy Perry when he showed up at her feeding stations about four years ago as a young adult. And it’s been that long that we’ve been trying to trap him! Elusive is an understatement—he simply never shows up at a feeding station twice in the same day, week, month. But he made the mistake of doing just that and we got him, all of us working together.
Intact males do wander and range a large area depending on where females in heat can be detected. Even today, the attitude about spay and neuter is still heavily on the female because she produces the kittens, but some people let the male off the hook because he doesn’t produce anything without intact females, but his hormones tell him to go find a mate and so he is typically permitted outdoors to go looking for one. Even with well-intentioned adopters, an intact male kitten or adult will often escape or wander off and become part of the community cats, never returning home.
Feral or friendly, intact male cat behavior is the same. The female in heat is more important than food, so intact males aren’t as likely as females or neutered cats to show up regularly at a feeding station. A one-mile radius is not unusual for intact males.
Our neighborhoods, and Perry
Our neighborhoods are pretty dense and unfortunately, with all our work, intact females can still be found, some feral, some friendly, some escapees, some neglected.
Trapping near the food source is a good idea depending on the number of cats who gather there. We’ve tried to trap him when he shows up at Denise’s house, but she feeds up to a dozen and sometimes more, many of whom are more than happy to go in the trap and get the food, and he eludes capture that way. Perry’s a little disagreeable, and when he does show up at Denise’s he usually whines at the other cats and lately she tries to feed him first to get him out before the other cats gather so that he wouldn’t start fights. Because he does meow, we had long thought he had some socialization and might have even had an owner. She had noted what looked like a wound on his face below one ear, but it came and went and never seemed to grow worse and sometimes cleared up, and was likely either flea bite dermatitis or earmites, or possibly a food sensitivity. Still, both for a neuter and the wound he was on our list to trap.
Perry has been sighted all over our hill, up to the top and down to the bottom, and even in other neighborhoods. Last summer he was seen in an overgrown area near some condos, appearing lethargic and the wound area appeared to be seeping. He disappeared before anyone could trap him.
He’s been seen since then, but last week he showed up at a house on the other side of the hill. Michelle has been feeding cats since she moved in, and has TNRd several cats from a house where they let intact cats roam, and also socialized litters of kittens from those cats.
Setting neighbors up for success
I have been able to gather four traps from various sources, gifts from people I’ve helped, a hand-me-down from a woman who retired from trapping, and two from the Homeless Cat Management Team. Not just for Perry, but for two or three other intact males as well as a few females we know are around because the males are here. In the past I’ve done my best to go out with my traps and get these cats, but I really don’t have the time for the sitting and waiting part.
I decided my traps should be at the ready around our neighborhood unless I need to use them elsewhere, specifically at the homes where people feed cats and help to track them so that when cats show up, they can set a trap right away, rather than trying to organize after the cat is likely long gone. Peg already has a trap, so I dropped one off with Denise and Michelle. They know how to set the trap and how to handle the cat in the trap, and we organized the details for Perry and future trapping.
Planning to trap a cat has several parts, but the most important part needs to be in place before you even set the trap: find a surgery appointment, and then plan for how the cat is handled so it’s warm and dry and is in the trap for the minimum amount of time. I got a last-minute appointment at the HCMT clinic a few days later, and Michelle would hold him in her garage before and after surgery, no matter who trapped him.
We got him!
He didn’t show up again before the clinic, but did end up in the trap that afternoon, too late to take him in.
We had him, but no surgery appointment, but you really don’t want to release a cat who needs to be trapped without it. Michelle released him into a smaller animal crate so he could stretch out in case it was a day or two until we found one.
That left me looking for an appointment for him. I poked around everywhere looking for someone who had a TNR appointment but hadn’t trapped all the cats they’d planned, or someone who didn’t need one they had, or anyone I could call or contact on Saturday night or Sunday. I did find an appointment for Monday morning at a clinic across town, but kept looking and found that Beaver County Humane Society had a surgery appointment open on Monday, much closer and no city travel in morning and afternoon rush hour. I purchased that spot with funds donated to Cubbage Hill Cats and then began arranging transportation. Denise transported to the shelter, I picked him up.
Michelle would release him about mid-week when the weather warmed up a bit.
We’ll see how his personality turns out since he may have some socialization. If he seems friendly, we’ll work on socializing him, like Ebby. The goal with TNR is not only humane care and sterilization for community cats, but also reducing the populations living on the street. One cat at a time.
Cubbage Hill Cats
Our Cubbage Hill Cats PayPal account has come in handy a few times already. I’ve been able to use a little for Simba’s medications and prescription diet, and we covered Ebby‘s expenses too. They never stop showing up, and we do our best to find out if they belong to anyone, and to give them whatever care they need, whether it be TNR and a shelter, veterinary care, food and love, or a ride to a shelter that will help them find a new forever home.
Our name is Cubbage Hill Cats so that you can donate to help us care for the community cats we serve. You can find us on PayPal at PayPal.me/CubbageHillCats. Donations are not tax-deductible because we are not a 501(c)3, but all donations will go to help the cats in our neighborhood, from TNR to rescue and foster to food for ferals to medical care.
Thanks so much to Robin Olson and Kitten Associates for a $200 grant to help our Cubbage Hill Cats!
One more view of Perry
Perry is a doppleganger for Rags, the main character cat in the Klepto Cat Mysteries I regularly illustrate. I used Denise’s photo of Perry at the top of this article for a cover in 2017.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Thursday: New Merchandise
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!