I’m not trapping or anything, just advising several people in six different cat situations right now, from lost cats to feral cats to a cat with a can on its head, and even tutoring a few people in the art of trapping cats and the whole process of TNR. Last year at this time I was trapping and then helping a friend with cats she needed to surrender and transporting quite often. I don’t know how I got anything done with all the time it took, but it was so good to be out and about. Sitting here and messaging in Messenger, texting, emailing, talking on the phone, arranging surgery possibilities, it’s very different, but I’m happy to at least be able to help behind the scenes. Here’s a rundown, more or less in the order they’ve come up.
Cayman in Savannah
For the past three weeks, my niece in Savannah has been trying to recover one of her cats who got out the door, and it’s been the most complicated recovery you can imagine—he’s around, but very wary, will not go near a trap and runs at the slightest noise.
You might remember that last summer my niece TNRd a litter of six kittens and mom who had taken up residence at the commercial greenhouse where she works. Mom and one kitten were TNRd, one kitten was adopted by a customer, and Jennifer took the remaining four home, intending to adopt two of them and had a surrender appointment the other two at the Humane Society of Greater Savannah. The shelter limits intake to be sure they have space for all the animals they take in, and in summer in Savannah, they are pretty busy. She felt Luna and Cat Stevens still needed some time to socialize at that point and knew they’d likely be in a cage in the shelter so she kept them a little longer. They are much more socialized now and happy in her house, and she has almost as many cats as I do! She already had Elsa (and they lost Baby in 2018), and they adopted Simon and Theo from me in 2016.
Clever Theo figured out how to open their sliding glass door to the back porch. He’s big and strong and can move that big door far enough to go outside and sit on the porch, that’s all he wants to do. But then other cats get out too, of course, and they’ve been trying to fix it all along. Several kittens got outside a few months ago and Cat Stevens, now called Pumpkin, was outdoors overnight, but came back to her bedroom window very early the next morning. All her siblings were watching for her.
This time Cayman got outside, and he’d be the last one you’d figure would run out the door. He is not a curious cat, even as a kitten staying in his box on Jennifer’s desk at work and staying on his blanket in her bedroom. But in the melee of cats outside he took off too, and disappeared. Jennifer thought he might return the next morning as his sister did, but he didn’t. The next morning as she was out looking for him, Theo opened the door again and Pumpkin got outside, ran into the neighbor’s yard, and also disappeared. She did return the next morning, but there was no trace of Cayman for days.
I’ve been helping her with suggestions all this time and wishing I wasn’t so far away. He’s been coming to her back door and she has a setup hoping to trap him in there and finally bring him back in. When he’s finally back home, I’ll write up the whole story!
Two feral adults, two feral kittens, maybe more
A member of our neighborhood cat group posted about these four cats whose caretaker would be moving and leaving then in place. Lindsay lives near there and heard about the situation and asked for help. Over time we determined they were probably close enough to Denise’s house to find her feeding stations; we’ve done that with two other ferals whose family were moving and asked if Denise could take them on. Those cats did find their way there, and to other feeding stations in our part of the neighborhood. TNR was in order for these cats for sure since the two adults are male and female and we don’t need more cow-spotted kittens, cute as they are. I started with TNR training describing preparations for TNR. Lindsay has a space to hold before and after surgery and made a TNR appointment with one of the shelters. We got together with my trap Wednesday night so I could show her how it works, and describe how and where to set it up and what to do before during and after trapping.
We also went to talk to the owners of the house and found they were grateful for the help. I often hear “we didn’t know what to do” when cats start reproducing, and while, yes, we all know that spaying and neutering is the answer and so do they. But low-cost or free services are the only thing affordable for more than one cat for most people. How do you find out that low-cost surgeries even exists? Really, unless you’re in the animal rescue loop, there’s a chance that, if your veterinarian doesn’t say anything, you would have no idea to start with calling the shelter to find out your options. That’s something we need to fix to get more cats fixed.
The cats we are targeting are mom and dad and two kittens from one litter, but the people told us there had been about three litters. I often find there are more cats to be trapped than anyone thinks are there, and this is how it happens. Feral cats tend to fade into the underbrush until overnight, but when you trap and they are hungry, there they are. So we need to prepare for more cats. It’s nice that Lindsay can use their small covered front porch where they are fed to trap on.
Also, these people are related to those who live in a home in the neighborhood where we trapped Callie last summer, and have several other cats we haven’t been able to TNR. They mentioned their relatives and I asked if she could talk to them, give them my information, and we’ll get those cats if we can trap in their yard.
Lindsay set up the trap tonight and we kept in touch by texting as she sat and waited, but unfortunately was not successful for her appointment tomorrow morning—because the darned trap didn’t go off. Sometimes I wonder about that trap of mine. But she did talk to the people there again and they had talked to their relative, and we are on for trapping those cats. We will get these cats eventually, and we actually think there are others who feed cats up there as well. If not, Lindsay will keep track of them and we’ll figure something out.
Mom cat in the barn
Last summer I helped the family who live in the old farmhouse on our borough park property and run the refreshment business in the park. The farm still has some outbuildings and they keep chickens, and though they’d seen a cat moving around out there spending time with their chickens they didn’t realize the cat had kittens until the five plushy beans were suddenly there with their mom. They managed to trap the kittens using large plastic bins and socialized them and found forever homes for them, but when it came time for mom’s surgery she had disappeared. She came back and Christy called me to discuss her options. I had left one of my traps with her so she’d have it on hand when the cat came back. Now that she has, it’s likely she has a litter of kittens somewhere, but they haven’t seen them yet. It’s good we’ve had a mild winter for these off-season births. We’re waiting to see if she brings her kittens along, or if they are tucked away in one of the buildings, and we’ll be dealing with the situation however it turns out.
Possible mom cat and others
The wife of Andy, the artist who brought me the tiny kitten who was then named Andy just after my surgery in October, called me a few weeks ago and said she thought she had finally seen that kitten’s mother, a gray tabby just like her son, and thought she might be pregnant. I had told them that kittens that age did not move around on their own and to keep a lookout for a cat who might be his mother. She was obviously feral and traveled around the neighborhood each day. A neighbor of hers was feeding the cat, and she put me in touch with the feeder, Jan.
Jan has some experience with TNR, and I explained what we could do for the cat, but we need to know her pattern before we start trapping. She had been feeding when she saw them but began feeding each day and looking for the cat to determine when she came, and from what direction. She doesn’t appear each day, but she moves around at night as well.
While Jan was watching for the mother cat, a black cat began to show up at her feeding station pretty regularly. She had seen a sign for a lost “Bombay” cat and because this cat does not seem feral, only wary to frightened, this cat may be the missing “Bombay”—in quotes because many people tend to assign breeds to their cats without actually knowing, and Bombay cats are not terribly common. I posted that cat on social networks with her photo.
A ravine is between her back yard and the yards across the way, and it seems someone lives in the ravine who is feeding cats. Once the cats start showing up regularly, I”ll go over and scope the human situation as well as the cats’ activity and hope to find out more and get one or both of these cats into surgery slots, then return them to the neighborhood.
A friend the next town over and feral mother and kittens
A friend moved to a new neighborhood and noticed feral cats, then found it was her neighbor who was feeding them. It turned out to be a feral mom cat and her litter of four kittens who were now older, old enough to start reproducing right now. Teri had never trapped cats but knew about TNR and asked me if I could help her with the situation, explain what she needed to do and loan her a trap. I described the process to her and made recommendations, her neighbor was fine with the idea, so Teri would fit it in between all the other things she does.
She set up a TNR appointment at the shelter, got a trap and set it up the other night, and actually trapped a kitten! The kitten had his surgery and she’s ready to move on to the rest of them. I had mentioned it would be best if she could trap them all at once and put her in touch with Margo, who lives pretty close, for traps and clinic appointments, and I’m keeping in touch.
Cat with a can on its head
Over the weekend a friend called for help with a friendly cat she and neighbors had seen around the neighborhood with another cat, both friendly and one with a bell collar, but one now had a can stuck on its head. She picked up the cat and her son tried to pull the can off but it was wouldn’t budge. She was really badly scratched by the cat in the process and had to start a rabies protocol of vaccines in case of exposure, even though the cat couldn’t bite with a can on its head, just in case of saliva. Any cat in this situation might react this way, suddenly being handled, not able to see what was happening and doing its best to defend itself.
The next day her son managed to get the cat and hold it, grease up and soap up its neck and still couldn’t remove the can. He used tin snips to cut the bottom off the can so the cat could see and breathe, then started snipping down the side of the can but the cat got away and ran off into the woods at the end of the dead end street. At least it could breathe more easily and see, but it couldn’t eat because the can was too tall.
Someone on that street feeds cats, but they aren’t sure who that is. In the meantime they wanted to borrow a trap to try to trap it and take it to a vet. I offered my trap and gave some advice for luring the cat with food into a large carrier or crate, and even hand-feeding it so it had something to eat. But the rains started, she had to get her scratches taken care of and ger her rabies vaccines, and no one has seen the cat. It could be that the can finally came off with all that was on the cat’s neck, and that someone else may have seen it and also helped it with the can. They’ve been searching and I hope to hear something soon.
A new local TNR clinic, and scheduling appointments for all these cats
One of the things that’s made TNR difficult is that it’s erratic and hard to plan ahead, and then nearly all the clinics are on the other side of town, a difficult drive in morning rush hour, and release time is during the work day. That’s one of the reasons I often transported since, working at home, I can flex my time a little easier. A new clinic opened by a rescue has two clinic days a month and a great TNR package. They generally offer clinic spots to rescues, but they gave me a block of four spots at the end of February, and I can continue to request them as we need them. So, of the TNR activities in this post, Lindsay, Christy and Teri can all use appointments, as well as those of us in this neighborhood who will target the remainder of the feral cats where we’d been working in the past year.
Typically, when someone asks for help, I go there and scope out the situation, I can get more traps together, and I can transport, and often I do the trapping too. Well, hopefully I’ll have a car again soon and can get around more easily, but again, I’m just glad I can help teach, advise and organize the services all these people need who are out there helping cats.
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