After months of feeding the same five cats every morning, I decided to work up some nerve to trap a few of them, and implement stage three of my personal “Stop the Kittens” program. Kittens are cute, yes, but more than half of them die and the rest go on to fight for turf and roam in search of procreation.
One such kitty, almost a year old, has become our friend. We love Teddy, otherwise known as Theodore on bird-hunting occasions (the only time I felt sorry for a grackle on a particularly gruesome hunt that resulted in a squawking cacophony of birds and grackle bird-blood-feathers all over my porch). The first day this little guy appeared, he ran all the way to my hands when I was putting food out. I’d never had a wild cat come that close. Most of them hide till the coast is clear. The last time I set out traps, Teddy was one of the lucky victims even though I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks.
After his release, he reappeared a week later and hasn’t left since, either sleeping in the garden bed, hiding in the front yard grass, chasing aforementioned grackles, or trying to sneak in the house in the morning when I leave the door open. I slowly started to touch him, and over time it turned into full-body kitty-massage, and now no day is completely without a lot of physical affection. Teddy is well on his way to becoming our own adopted cat, which is something I don’t expect from these wild creatures. Even more amazing is that he and Pearl, one of our border collies, spend the afternoons sleeping next to each other on the porch. We’ve come a long way, baby, since the days she lived to chase cats off the property.
Teddy is the one cat that gives me gratitude for trapping and fixing these insane creatures. Otherwise, it’s a nerve-wracking job. I hate the idea of trapping anything, especially a thrashing, freaked out cat. And when it comes to some of these tom-cats, the way they fight, half the time showing up with swelled-shut eyes or some other war wound, I don’t want to be anywhere near their claws.
My regular cats are mostly males, and there are a few others that drift in and out. There are three in particular that seem to chase the ladies around. The only regular female, whom we call Titian, has been pregnant three times this year and she won’t get near a trap. Neither will “Fat Face”, the male who’s always chasing Titian around. They fight, they make up, they fight, they make up. Who knows how many babies this couple has produced.
I gave up trapping for a few months after trying everything to seduce them into traps. Here, here, kitty, there is a nice plate of sardines for you, but you have to go in this scary enclosed metal thing to get it, even though there are other people in the neighborhood putting out perfectly good cat food for you. Then I heard about using a drop trap on hard-to-catch cats. I sucked up the money and got myself one from Alley Cat Allies. It was my lucky day today because as I was setting up the trap in the back yard, Fat Face was sunning on the stones, happily sleeping without a care in the world, just yards away. It took him about two seconds to smell those sardines.
Fat Face went in, I snapped the trap down and the wrestling that ensued was enough to stop me trapping for another few months. What had been a slowly trusting relationship between us–he no longer ran when I came to give him food–turned into an arch-battle for both of our lives. I had a big thrashing black cat, trying to push, claw, swat his way out. And there is no way this trap would’ve held him for another minute. He pushed the trap several inches along the ground before I got there in time to my foot down on it, and then he managed to get his foot under the trap and push it up a few inches trying to to force his head out. I almost thought he’d escaped so I jumped up on the trap with both feet–at this point looking like a dangerous yogi with both feet on the corner of the drop trap and my right arm twisting behind my back to pull the transport trap up to the drop door.
I don’t know how people do this regularly.
I don’t recommend you do this at home, alone. I don’t recommend it to me.
But, sigh, one less (and quite considerable) kitten-maker in the neighborhood.