Trapping cats

Our neighborhood has a number of rental houses that have gone vacant in the past year. Over the last few months, we’ve realized that one of the erstwhile renters left his cat behind. His pregnant cat. We started seeing the cat and her kittens sometime this past summer, but as summer turned into fall and the cats started looking thin, my neighbors and I realized they’re not just outdoor cats, they’re homeless.

When it started to get cold, we finally took action, and I called the Best Friends Animal Society. They lend people traps, pick up any cats that are caught, spay or neuter them, clip an ear to mark that the cats are altered, and release them back into the neighborhood.

They came by on Wednesday and lent me four cat traps. I set them out, baited with tuna, early Thursday morning. By mid-morning, we’d caught the mom. My daughter called me at work to tell me, and she said, “The black-and-white kitten was up on the wall and took off like a shot. I don’t think we’ll catch that one anytime soon.” Half an hour later, my other daughter called to tell me Best Friends had just picked up the mom and the black-and-white kitten was in another trap. I’m guessing his thought process went something like, “Mom! What did they do to mom? What is that terrible…hey, is that tuna?”

So, I’ve been faithfully setting the last two traps, but we hadn’t gotten any results. It was cold and rainy on Friday and Sunday, and the animal people don’t pick up cats on Saturdays, because they don’t have a vet to do the neutering on Sundays. Today, I set the traps again, but I wasn’t hopeful. When I came home at lunch, though, there was a kitten in one of them. Best Friends picked it up at 3:00, and when I got home at 5:00, there was the last kitten in the last trap. I can’t believe we actually caught all four cats - and no other cats - in less than a week! Mom and the first baby were returned home on Saturday. The two who went in today are scheduled to be back on Thursday. So we’ll still have stray cats, but now we won’t have ten stray cats by this time next year.

Apparently, panicked feral cats in traps don’t typically photograph well, but my daughter did manage to get a picture of Kitten #3 from a distance when she checked on him and saw that he was doing the kitty loaf thing. He’s really cute. If any of these guys had seemed tameable, I’m sure I’d be posting about our new kitten right now.

Do they always just release them? Seems like at least the kittens might be adoptable.

Paging flatlined! She has been very active in feral rescue.

AuntiePam, adoption was my first thought, but no one I contacted will take feral kittens. The mom could probably be placed in a home, since she started out as a pet, but these kittens have been wild since birth, and they’re about six months old. The odds are very poor that they could ever be socialized to humans.

In our city, Best Friends works with the Animal Welfare Department to reduce the number of cats that are euthanized. They don’t do adoptions here, although I understand from their website that they do in other places. Our Animal Humane Association will take young kittens or older cats that are stray but not feral, and right now they and the city animal shelter are drowning in kittens. These guys would more likely than not have ended up being euthanized if we’d taken them in.

Of course, I secretly hope that once they’re settled back in the neighborhood, we’ll be able to make friends with them and eventually get them tame. That’s probably not going to happen, but in the meantime we won’t end up with more and more kittens.

I have two cats that were caught as young juveniles as part of a catch/release scenario. They were part of a rural colony. They are strictly indoor cats now that show no interest in returning to life outside, and they are extremely sociable with humans. Just saying… I think it’s possible.

Dude! You totally rock!!! Good job on getting all of them!!!

You get the idea behind fixing feral animals. If I wasn’t holding a sleeping cat, I’d be doing a happy dance.

You can never tell about kittens born from a housecat and raised feral. As you already know, cats are teh weird, and stray cats are even weirder.

You have done the greatest act of kindness those poor kittens will ever see. Thank you so much for that.