A new caretaker reached out to us over Facebook and we were very excited to offer our help. A site visit was set up for the following weekend, but was bumped up as they caught a kitten that had only recently started visiting the colony site, a sure sign the mother was ready to wean them. The caretaker had been working to help this colony that only started two years prior, but felt overwhelmed and wasn’t sure how to go about catching all of the kitties that seemed to multiply as the months wore on. They were able to catch the kitten with a small trap she had previously used to catch another litter of kittens. These previous kittens had all found homes or rescue organizations thanks to this wonderful caretaker. Getting kittens was something they could do, but catching the older cats and actually getting appointments for them without transportation was something that became too difficult to handle on their own. We felt very lucky to be able to work with someone who understood the TNR process fully and who didn’t think we were going to keep her cats.
We went over to the colony site to pick up the kitten and check out what was going on. Six in the evening was the regular feeding time and we were not disappointed. As I approached I could tell I was at the right place as a semi friendly white and orange cat waited impatiently for her feeder to get to work. They feed the cats on the sidewalk using tinfoil so as not to upset the neighbors with cans of cat food. Two dedicated caretakers live next door to each other, but I have a feeling there are many more feeders around who give the cats food in different places and at different times.
The day I went to pick up the kitten they were just getting ready to feed the colony. There was one more kitten left to catch so we brought a trap down with us. We didn’t end up needing it as I was able to walk up behind the kitten as it ate and scruff it. Neither of the kittens looked like they felt that great, but that was understandable as they had grown up on the street around many other cats who could be carrying any number of diseases.
That weekend Vlad and I went back with a drop trap and several box traps ready to catch as many as we could. We had counted 7+ in the colony so far, but had a feeling it was closer to 12+. We set up the drop trap with a large amount of food and waited. Not long after we caught the white and orange mom along with the grey calico female. We siphoned them into individual box traps and reset. While we waited for them to come to the drop trap we set up a box trap near the garbage cans to give us as much coverage as possible. We were able to catch another female in the drop trap and just a short time later a black female in the box trap. There were still many more left to catch, but it was getting late and the others had been scared off by the commotion so we called it a night.
The next day we returned with the box trap, but my tiredness got the best of us. I balked at pulling the string on an orange male and we missed him. After that I set up the drop trap with the prop stuck in the crack of the sidewalk preventing Vlad from pulling the trigger. We missed a large orange tom on this occasion.
To Glendale the cats went for their appointments, all unremarkable surgeries which is great. After they had fully recovered we brought them back to the colony site to release them. Everyone was doing fine when we brought them back, but two cats did not return the grey calico and the most friendly orange and white kitty did not return the next day, or the next, or the rest of the week. Finally the grey calico returned but still no sign of the orange and white. Of course the caretaker was worried and I feared the worst. I started second guessing myself, had she eaten that day? had she urinated after her surgery? It prompted me to start keeping a record of the animals while they are in my care, a log of when they ate, how much, when they defecate, and urinate. This way I can be sure they are safe and ready to go when it is time to release them and I wont be second guessing my care or choices.
Irritated by my mistakes the following week I was able to get a few more appointments for the Crown Heights same day transport. I set up my traps and right away caught a kitty. I was overjoyed, the orange and white mom was back! But no I had made a mistake and let the baby orange and white kitty go from the box trap. The mom was still missing and I had just let another go. I set up a few traps in the yard in near the feeding site and while talking with the caretaker we heard the trap click. We couldn’t believe it, but we had caught a kitty, the orange male I had missed during out last trapping. At least I wasn’t going home empty handed.
That night I caught one more cat with the drop trap, but he turned out to be ear tipped already and just after a free meal.
Determined I came back for another night and was rewarded when I caught the baby orange and white “kitten” under the drop trap. It made me feel much better to know I had almost everyone that I had been after.
There was still one more female to catch that we knew of, but she was the smart one and we just couldn’t seem to get her even when we were able to get another neighbor to withhold food for a day. On our final day of trapping we tried our best to catch her, but when the rain started we knew we had to call it a year. It would be the end of our trapping season, the cold is more than I could handle and I worried about keeping the cats indoors for their recovery time only to be shocked by the bitter cold they would be met with upon their return to their colony site.
We named the kittens Meatloaf and Tomato and are on the waitlist to get them into the ASPCA adoption program. While they wait they have been to our favorite veterinarians at Bensonhurst Veterinary Care where they are being treated for upper respiratory infections and getting fecal samples tested for other possible issues. They are playful and silly, but still a bit reserved at times. The “baby” orange and white kitty we caught was taken in for socialization by the caretaker, we hope for the best for him. He was also ill and was able to get veterinary treatment through the kind caretaker.
It’s a crazy end to a crazy year! We only started this whole TNR life in June and already we are hooked. Through this process we have gotten to know our neighbors and ourselves in ways we never imagined. We have met so many amazing animals in just a short time and are amazed at how much change we can cause within our community and the lives of animals. Thank you for following our journey so far, we look forward to sharing more in 2018!