Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Fix Those Kitties!
Except for one miscue and some miscommunication among humans, the Big Fix went very well.
Heather's friend Kris suggested we start trapping at noon on Sunday. I got a little freaked out about that because Heather said usually trapping is done at dusk when the kitties would be out and hungry- and when residents and management wouldn't be out on the property. But as a novice I was at Kris's mercy and told her to come whenever she wanted. Kris turned out to be the most hyperactive woman I have ever met in my life. No contest. I opened the door to find her wild-eyed and covered with scratches. She is also terribly sweet and dedicated. She did, however, seem a little too excited about finding big tom cats and chopping off their bits.
The traps have two doors, one on each end. One of the doors is attached to a lever mechanism that can raise up a small platform on the bottom of the cage. You place the food slightly under the platform, the cat steps on the platform to get at the food, triggering the door to shut. The other door is to be opened upon feeding and releasing. We set up the five traps behind the dumpster, each trap had a paper plate with about a tablespoon of tuna on it. We stood aside and waited a few minutes. Sure enough, one of the scrawny tuxedo cats came milling around it, sniffing at it. That little asshole managed to slip his skinny paw through the cages and proceeded to scoop out all the tuna in the traps. Then, full and proud of himself, he went and laid in the sun.
"Wow! Yours are much smarter than mine!" I shrugged apologetically, but inside I was a little proud of his ingenuity as well.
The second attempt didn't lure any kitties for awhile. Kris got bored warning it could be hours and decided to go run some errands. I left for maybe a half hour and came back to find two of the traps full. The cats were startled so I got the sheets given to me just for covering them up. I covered them and walked past a still open trap with a kitten in it, eating the tuna. I had eyed this kitten for a few days wondering if it was young enough to be socialized. And it was in my trap. But it was too little to actually trigger the mechanism. It wasn't until the kitten, drunk on tuna, actually laid down in the trap, putting her full weight on the trigger that the door sprung shut. I felt bad for trapping her, but I figured either way she needed to be caught. If she was too young to be fixed we could keep her. If she was old enough, she should be fixed.
It took a couple hours, but finally all the traps were full. And the kitten was the only one I had ever seen before. I wondered if it was the lunch crowd, since my guys don't come out until a little later. Either way, they definitely weren't the five I was expecting.
Kris loaded them in the van and took them all home with her. I was expecting to keep them and then go with her to the clinic the next day, but she said that would be too time consuming.
The kitties got through surgery just fine. Much to Kris's dismay, I ended up catching four girls and only one boy. Again, I was expecting Kris to pick them up from the clinic and drop them with me. She never showed up and I couldn't get a hold of her. I found myself worried about my cats and anxious to see them, make sure with my own eyes they were okay. I called Heather who sensed my apprehension and then we both tried calling Kris several more times.
It wasn't until this afternoon that I heard from her. I told her I was fully expecting to recover the kitties last night as well as tonight. She says that keeping them the night before and the night after the surgery is "part of her deal" and she does it for everyone. She intends to keep them two nights next month as well. Dean was ecstatic. I wasn't as thrilled but if it gets Dean feeling more comfortable with this process so be it.
The kitties are now resting peacefully (and occasionally whining) on the balcony. My kitties are surprisingly well-behaved. They are keeping and eye on the visitors, but there has been no hissing, no puffing up, no spraying, none of the horrific noises I was imagining. They are curious and Nellie gets wildly jealous when I go out there with canned food, apparently a delicacy around here.
In the end, Kris said she thinks the kitten is deceptively small-probably much older than she appears. Dean thinks we simply can't have another cat and I know he's right. And I don't have the time, the energy or the skills to socialize a feral kitten. In the end, she'll have to go back with her cat family and I'll be satisfied knowing I did a good thing for her. But she's soooo cute!