You remember all those kittens, right? And you remember the mother cats who gave birth to them, right?
It all started with a cat named Spot, after the big triangular grey spot on her nose.
Spot, bless her heart, is the one who originally showed up in my breezeway last December, her three little kittens in tow. And in the early spring she had Aleister; but not long after that she looked to be pregnant again. A kitten-making machine, our Spot, her modus operandi being to give birth to them and then abandon them on my doorstep. Thanks, Spot.
But then she disappeared. I had assumed at first that she was off somewhere I couldn't find nursing her kittens; but something like three and a half months went by and I saw neither her nor any sign of any kittens. I honestly thought she was dead, and even went as far as to break the news to Aleister.
Then about a week and a half ago I look out the glass door into the breezeway and there she was like nothing happened. She was not even a little bit dead; however she did look like she could be a little bit pregnant, maybe. Great.
The next time I saw her though she looked perfectly normal; not scrawny, but not roundish either.
That's when I finally got my hands on some traps, after calling and calling and calling every local charity, animal shelter, and animal control office I could think of. It was Boston that came through, though they aren't particularly local and are a bit of a drive. Luckily though Tara was going over there one night and picked them up for me.
So last night I set them up, with the irresistible bait of some nice smelly tuna. And to my surprise the first one who showed up was not one of the grouchy old tom-cats like Old Scratch, but shy skittish Spot herself. She found the tuna on the plate outside the trap, then followed her nose to the little dollop just at the mouth of it; she gobbled that up then walked a couple steps to the second dollop, a little further in; then on to the third one, just before the trigger-plate. And there I stood in the hallway looking out at her with my fingers crossed holding my breath hoping hoping hoping; and then she stepped all the way in to scarf down the prize of the big pile of tuna way in the back.
And triggered the plate and the door came crashing down and hey presto! she was trapped.
I ran out there and threw a sheet over her so she'd stop freaking out, because she was, rather.
After she calmed down I picked up the trap, because I needed to see something. After a few minutes she finally moved enough so I could see her belly, and sure enough, she had some serious nipples going on there. She was lactating. Which means she has had a litter of kittens, somewhere hidden in this yard or nearby. They would be, I'd guess, not much more than a week old right now. And since week-old kittens cannot survive without their mother for the twenty-four hours she'd be away from them if I were to bring her in and get her spayed, I let her go. I didn't have much choice. I don't know if I'll ever get her in a trap again.
After Spot scrambled off to who knows where, I set the trap again. A few minutes later Splotch saunters up the stairs. Intrigued by the inviting scent of the additional tuna I'd put out, sure enough, one, two, three there she goes into the trap, all the way to the back, stepping on the catch plate.
Except this time nothing happens. The door stays open.
I stand there and curse.
I open the door and Splotch of course runs off. I reset the stupid thing, with more tuna, this time making sure the door is barely held open by the catch. The traps I did get a hold of are larger and sturdier than the usual Havahart traps; I think they are really designed for larger animals, and so maybe these little feral cats just don't weigh enough.
I went back to waiting. Sure enough Splotch is back in a couple minutes; and having learned that the trap—I mean luxury dining quarters filled with free tuna—is safe, has no problem walking right in all the way to the back. This time the damned thing snaps shut and Splotch proceeds to freak out. I throw the sheet over it and she calms down. In a couple minutes I put her in the garage and set up the second trap.
It took Smudge a while but she eventually came by. And sure enough, she didn't set the thing off first try, either. But I got her on the second try.
So after staying overnight in the garage, with no food after midnight, they got packed up in the car stupidly early this morning to go to a clinic in Rhode Island. I dropped them off and then picked them up this afternoon. They are now missing both the tip of their left ears and, and this is very important, their uteri. Splotch, by the way, was already pregnant.
So that's two of them, anyway. Yay.
They are now in the garage again, recovering for a day or two, after which I'll let them go. I imagine they'll eventually forgive me, especially since I have a big bag of cat chow I'm willing to share.
The lady at the shelter said to try again for Spot in a month's time, when her kittens are five weeks old. If, that is, she doesn't just disappear again. And if she brings her new kittens by, if they survive (Aleister was apparently either an only child, which I've never heard of, or the only one in his litter who survived), well then here we go again because I'll have to catch them and socialize them, and foster them and give them up for adoption and all that all over again. Because if I don't—it will never stop.
Wish me luck.