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The Wild Cats
October 15th, 2008

We have quite a few feral cats in our neighborhood. When the people who had been feeding them moved away, and we started feeding them, we found that there were even more than we had thought. There’s a female who had a litter last year and about 6 adolescent cats, mostly her kittens but maybe not all. The big yellow tom who is responsible for all these kittens hasn’t been around in a long time — the coyotes may have gotten him (yes, that’s a thing that happens to outdoor cats here). I think some of these cats just heard that there was a good buffet at our house and probably trek a ways to get here.

The Humane Society has volunteer trappers who will live-trap the cats, take them to be “fixed”, and then release them, but we were never successful in getting in touch with any of the trappers. Finally we decided we had to do it ourselves. The first (lame) plan was to leave just a small opening where they could get into the garage, wait until they were inside, and block the rest of the opening. Then (a miracle occurs here) we catch them and stuff them into carriers. When I talked to the feral cat coordinator at the Humane Society, I learned that they have drop traps they’ll lend. Yep, it’s like a Wiley Coyote trap, a box that props up and when you pull a string it falls down. So we got one and set it up in the garage so the wild cats could get used to it.

Today is one of the spay/neuter clinic days so we didn’t put out food last night and this morning five cats showed up for breakfast. Four went under the trap and one decided to walk around on top. Figuring four was better than none, we sprang the trap and then it was pandemonium. The cats began flinging themselves at the mesh covering the top of the trap which was very exciting and nerve-wracking. We had been warned that this would happen so we were ready to hold the trap down (did you know that pound for pound, cats are stronger than titanium? or maybe it’s only steel. Anyway …) and cover it with a sheet to calm the cats. There is a port on one side of the trap where you can connect a covered crate, then by judiciously uncovering the trap, the cats are encouraged to go into the crate, where it’s hidier. So before long we had four individually crated cats who are being spayed and/or neutered right about now. We have to pick them up tonight and keep them until they have recovered from the anaesthetic and are doing OK post-op. They are supposed to be indoors too, which will be interesting. They’ll have to be in the laundry room and I hope they’re quiet because Lucky will go berserk if he thinks more cats might be coming to live here.

I hope we can get a couple of small traps that we can bait and leave to try to catch the other cats in. We borrowed a have-a-heart trap that is supposedly cat-size, but a cat couldn’t even turn around in this thing, and we have had no success with it in the past. But some of the people dropping cats off this morning had a different kind of trap which was larger and, they say, works better.

These are beautiful cats and I wish we could find homes for them, but we were told that it just doesn’t work. They’re wild and won’t ever be tame. Most of them have gotten a little used to us and go about their business as long as we don’t get too close, but some disappear if they even see you looking at them.

2 Responses to “The Wild Cats”
  1. From Alanna
    13 years, 1 month ago

    That’s great work, Meredith, and so important. Feral cats are a major major problem on Malta, lots of people feed them but nobody takes responsibility for them, and they are more often than not diseased, sick and dying. We did meet one lady who had taken it upon herself to do what you are doing but without any support at all from the council or community, she paid all the vet bills herself, bought all the traps at her own expense and bore the brunt of local hatred. People thought she was “cruel” for catching the cats, somehow they just didn’t understand that these animals were ill and that the cycle needed to be broken. I thought she was very brave, because in a place as small as Malta, reputation is everything and will never leave you. It’s great that you have so much support where you are for this kind of community rescue activity. Who pays for the spaying/neutering? Or does the vet do it for free? Don’t worry about rereleasing the cats, they immediately go back to their old environment and ways, feral cats are indomitable creatures!

  2. From Julie T
    13 years, 1 month ago

    My daughter works for our local Humane Society and she sees the worst of all types (people and animals both, but mostly people). We have a similar program here, my parents have done what you did Meredith and it’s a great service to the community. Any time we can slow the population (of pets or people) we are helping our planet, which helps all of us. Brilliant work!

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