The ASPCA workshop on building community and communication was really helpful. One of the presenters was Sheila Massey, a well known person in the cat world and a guest on my favorite podcast Community Cats Podcast. She went over how important it is to present the work as being about helping people rather than the animals. Once it is about community service and helping the neighborhood it becomes much easier to navigate the various human networks needed for a successful trapping. If someone complains about the cats, one takes their side and asks gently for evidence and how the problem can be fixed in a cat friendly way without making it obvious that is what is happening. She was very kind to speak with me after the presentation and give me advice on how to find more colonies in my neighborhood through my vet’s office (my vet, Bensonhurst Veterinary Care is amazing and rescues and adopts out cats and kittens when the need arrives). Through them I might be able to locate new colony sites that need help urgently to prevent some of the litters that come to the vet’s office.
Along with the upliftingly positive presentation I met up with my new TNR friend beforehand to talk shop. They have been trapping for ten years in a very difficult part of New York that isn’t as friendly to TNR as my neighborhood. It was amazing hearing their stories about TNR and just getting to talk to someone about the difficulties that come along with the process. One of the biggest differences I noticed between our neighborhoods were the neighbors/caretakers. In my neighborhood I have a hard time convincing people I will bring their cats back and that the process is safe. Something very bad must have happened here in the past and many cats seemed to have been taken and euthanized, possible a former version of the ACC or the municipal shelter. The memories still remain and people here are wary for good reason I suppose. My new TNR friend runs into the opposite, people don’t want the cats there and ask them to take the cats they trap and not to bring them back, something the trapper cannot due as the cats are feral and would be miserable inside.
After that original coffee meeting we have stayed in touch, much to my delight. We even virtually worked together to motivate ourselves for a week of trapping and matching appointments. That was one of the hardest weeks trapping and again I made some serious mistakes.
On the first night I set a trap up a outside of my building with the blind hope that a cat might stumble onto a real treat. I also set up my drop trap a few blocks from my apartment where I had seen a black cat on and off, but after waiting an hour the black cat seemed to be avoiding me at all costs so I continued on the the next block where I caught Kitty and Midnight Dracula months before. As I sat waiting a cat I thought was Kitty’s brother went under the trap. Irritated I scuffed my foot and the cat looked over, saw me, and darted away. As it turns out it wasn’t Kitty’s brother it was the boyfriend to the original Sassy three blocks over. I don’t know what my problem was, but I was very disappointed in myself and couldn’t believe what an idiot I had been. Walking home dejected and empty handed I couldn’t believe my eyes when I noticed the trap outside the building had been tripped. Thinking it was the wind or a nosey neighbor I walked up to check the trap without much hope. Inside was sweet Sam, an old male tabby who was wondering what in the world was going on.
The next evening I again set a trap up behind our building and before long I had caught someone. Unfortunately, it was someone’s cat who had stumbled into a trap in search of a second dinner. This cat was giant and in very good health.
After releasing someone’s cat back into the night I went to set up my drop trap one block over where I had caught Oscar and Jasper. I also set up a box trap in a driveway across the street where I had caught Oscar. It wasn’t long before a cat I had never seen before was under the trap, I pulled the string quickly and trapped the unsuspecting black and white four month old kitten. He was not happy about the trapping as he hissed at me and hung form the wire of the trap. I got him into a box trap covered and safe and set up again in hopes of getting someone else before the night was over. Of course just as a new tabby colored cat was sniffing around the trap someone came walking by. The pedestrian was very kind to cross the street where the cat was and cross back to say hi to me. I got nervous and when the cat was under the trap and I should have pulled the string I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The pedestrian asked if it wasn’t time to pull the string and by that point the cat was off. I think I am still gun shy from Sassy T when I missed her in the drop trap and wasn’t able to catch her until she had produced another litter of kittens. It was getting cold and I was getting worried about the kitten so home we went.
One more night of trying to get just one more cat. I set up where I had been the night before and placed a box trap in the driveway across the street near where I caught Oscar. I was hoping the tabby I failed to catch the night before would come back for seconds. Unfortunately, I did catch someone, but was Jasper, very angry in the drop trap. I let him go, waited a bit longer, and headed home. Surly not my best week of trapping, but two is better than none I suppose.
In other news Oscar the Grouch turned out to be quite the friendly. He was fixed at Ferals in Peril and had a wellness check at Bensonhurst Veterinary Care. It turns out he has some intestinal parasites that need treatment and retesting, but we are hopeful once he gets the clean bill of health we can find him his own forever home.