While taking one of my cats to the vet a few weeks ago a man leaning against a fence teasingly said, if you want more kittens I have some in that backyard. He had no idea what he was getting himself, and the cats, into. I gave him my card, talked about his cats for a bit and we set up a site visit later that week. He turned out to be the super of the building on the corner of Bay Parkway and 84th. The building had a large courtyard with many cats living in it. Several people from the building as well as the house next door fed and watered the cats regularly and people not even living in the building stopped by regularly to watch the cats lounge about. During the site visit later that week I counted about seven cats and at least one kitten.
Several days in a row I knocked on the door of the neighbor that fed the cats in the backyard adjacent to the building, but no response. I began to get the impression that I was in it with another animal hoarder similar to a previous caretaker I worked with. The kind of caretaker who doesn’t like to talk to people and cares more about the animal being fed than their overall health and wellbeing. The kind of caretaker who lives to feed the cats and enjoys the constant influx of kittens regardless of how many die when they are not looking. Not a great feeling to start a project with, but I decided to keep on with it and worry about the cats forgetting about the people for the most part. I met and spoke with the various caretakers from the building with the courtyard, all were so nice and very much wanted to get the cats help. One caretaker said she had been trying for years to get someone to come trap the cats, but no one ever called her back.
That weekend I posted signs around the building asking people to withhold food for a few days to help with the trapping process. On Sunday morning I set my traps and waited. Quickly I caught a cat, another one following closely almost catching two in one trap. Things went smoothly and I left that morning with three traps full of two cats and two kittens. That evening I came back and caught another cat quickly after having set the traps. This was very surprising as I had not been able to get the people next door to stop feeding the cats and I was very worried it would be a problem. While I was trapping that evening the people next door happen to come out to feed the cats, I tried asking them not to feed the cats for a few days, they agreed and then put the plate full of human food they had prepared for the cats on the ground anyway. They then told me not to catch the two older cats as they were like pets and it would be too hard on them. I was still in shock about the food and didn’t really know what to say. Soon after I caught one of the cats they had asked me not to catch and I was not morally okay with letting him go without his vaccines and the snip snip. My previous encounter with unvaccinated cats, Silverbell’s litter, left a bad taste in my mouth and I didn’t want to leave this cat unprotected and at the mercy of the heat cycle regardless of his age so I kept him in the trap.
The next morning much to my surprise the large orange cat walked right into the trap. He was angry and not thrilled with the prospect of going home with me, but he didn’t really have much of a choice. I continued trapping for the next few days catching three more cats, two of whom had already been part of someone else’s previous TNR project.
When I released one who had been hanging around the yard throughout most of the trapping and was tempted into a trap after I sprinkled dry food, she/he went right back to a food bowl and ate like there was no tomorrow.
One of the nights I stayed late trying to catch any stragglers I was met with two opossums and a very large raccoon who apparently dine regularly on the food left out for the cats. I had no idea how ugly opossums are and how large raccons can be!
The evening before they were to go to the ASPCA for surgery the black and white cat I had named Gloria had a miscarriage. While I know the vets regularly have to deal with this I was unprepared and felt awful for Gloria having to go through this. I was not sure if the trapping had triggered the miscarriage or if something else was the cause. Either way it was upsetting and not my favorite.
Everything went well at the vet appointment as surprisingly no one had any serious issues to contend with. For some reason I was sure I would get a call about Glitter Sparkles having mouth cancer and then having to tell the caretakers about it, luckily that was only a negative, worthless worry on my part.
I emailed the ASPCA to get Banana and Pollito on the waiting list, but this time I didn’t get a response. I hope I didn’t truly wear out my welcome and it is just some technical glitch where I didn’t send the email properly or it went through some weird filter by accident. This evening I released the six cats back into the courtyard and smiled as they ran away.
While walking the dogs this afternoon a neighbor told me they saw a black cat waddling across the street the other day. She was very pregnant. While Vlad was walking home this evening he saw a cat in the yard of the building on the corner, this one too possibly pregnant. Hopefully it is just fat because it was fixed by someone else years ago . . .