04 April 2010
On Feb 20th, I was already resigned to the fact that there would be little celebrating for me. Between trapping the previous night, teaching the TNR class and trapping that night for the monthly feral clinic, I knew I wouldn't have time for a usual birthday celebration. Sleeping late on Sat seemed to be a good compromise to having a full-on party and doing nothing at all. Around 0930 my phone rang and I decided I had better see who was expecting me to be out of bed. It turned out to be Tricia to report and seek advice for how to deal with a sticky situation. At the location where they were trapping, they had discovered three tiny 2-4 day old kittens in a storage closet. The momma cat was around but Tricia wasn't sure of how to proceed. Should she scoop up the kittens? Should she leave them alone? Or attempt to use them as bait to trap momma?

Each decision seemed fraught with possible bad outcomes. If she took the kittens on, someone was going to be stuck nurse maiding them and they would have little hope for survival. If she let them be, there was no guarantee that we could trap momma or that momma would not move them to another location. If we moved them, momma might abandon them! Tricia's initial instinct was to leave everything alone and give the kittens a chance to grow. I called Bobbi K. and she advised using them as bait by placing them into on trap, and butting that trap up against a second trap so that momma would have to walk through the trap to get to them. I explained what to do and Tricia gamely moved the little ones into a small box and placed them into a trap. At the same time, she made a grisly discovery, a mummified kitten carcass!

As soon as I got off of the phone with her, I regretted having her move the kittens. What if we couldn't trap momma? What if she wouldn't nurse the kittens after being trapped? I called Trish back and told her of my plan to go teach the class while she and Trudi finished trapping at the site. She asked me if I would come by to help them out first and I said that I did not have the time. Hearing the disappoint in her voice, and I decided that it was unfair for me to expect them deal with this new and frightening situation without being involved . I started working the phones to see if I could find someone who was willing to foster the kittens. Darci from All Fur Love Society agreed to take on the huge responsibility of caring for momma and kittens. I called Bobbi to see if she could come down later and decided that I would go by the site on my way to the training class and help however I could.

I quickly packed up and headed out. When I arrived, Trudi and Trish we're staking out a number of traps in the front and back yard and anxiously looking for momma to see if she would enter the storage closet through the cat door that the caretaker had installed. They had trapped 6 or 7 cats already. Momma watched us warily and would not go into the closet. I decided to take a peak and make sure that the trap with the kittens was setup correctly. I entered the closet and noticed that two cats were hiding in the corner. I inspected the trap setup and found that it was incorrect. The small box containing the kittens was inside of the trap meant for momma. Had she entered this trap, the tiny kittens would be in danger if a panicked, trapped mother trampled them in an attempt to escape.

Moving as calmly and as quietly as possible so as not to disturb the cats who were hiding out ( I planned to wrangle them with a net or noose pole) I rearranged the trap setup. Trish made a commotion at the door and one of the cats ran out. I indicated for her to be quiet and continued setting up the trap. Once I was satisfied that the new setup would work, I retrieved the noose pole from the truck. Trudi used a trap to block the only escape route, and I used the noose pole to prod the cat into the trap. Once trapped we went back to waiting for momma.

I left to teach the class and later received a call that Bobbie was able to trap the mother by having Trudi block the cat door with a trap while Bobbi shooed her out. Bobbi delivered the kittens and momma to Darci who set them up in a large kennel. Hearing the news, I thought, "What a great present! Saving three kittens, and successfully capturing the mother."

Over the next few days, joy turned to disappointment as two of the three kittens died because momma had stopped caring for them. Darci took the final kitten away from momma and began bottle feeding it herself. Despite the heartache, Darci gamely continued to care for the little one she named "Miracle". Yesterday I got to see him play with him, and I thought, that despite the losses, it still turned out to be a good, if belated birthday present!


Anonymous said...

PLEASE HELP! I do not have the time to read through your blog, but I do have feral cats that I am feeding. I need help in trapping and spaying...I am 75-years-old, in a wheelchair and cannot do this on my own. Whom do I call?

Please call me to assist! 702.405.9963 Bill and Kathy

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