I trapped my first cat last week and it was a bittersweet moment. I first caught a glimpse of him (or her) darting from our bird feeder into the garage. I thought it was Annie, a neighborhood kitten, but something was different. This kitty didn’t respond to my overtures. He did one of those kitty-slinks into our garage and out of sight. In fact, he lived in our garage for the next ten days or so, showing himself only ever so briefly—appearing as a blur most of the time.
Within the first few days of seeing him, I realized he wasn’t leaving the safety of our garage for more than a few minutes at a time, and I decided to offer food and water. He enthusiastically accepted. I also started searching for his owners. I put up posters, studied local missing pet sites, contacted the Humane Society and, of course, scoured the neighborhood with his picture. No one knew anything about this little guy. And it became more and more apparent that he had never known the comfort of a home or the loving hand of a human. We couldn’t get near him and he wanted nothing to do with us—except at feeding time. If we hung around while he ate—always at a distance—he kept his eyes on us the entire time. Either he’d learned to be afraid of people or he’d never had a chance to know a human.
When it became obvious that he had moved into our garage and when I was pretty sure he was homeless, we started looking into opportunities for his future. I learned that here locally, Animal Services is the place to take a feral cat. They are a no-kill facility—they even monitor a cat colony on site. They work with fosters and shelters to provide the type of care each animal requires and they place the animal in the appropriate situation. I decided this would be a better opportunity for Garage Kitty than the one he had chosen for himself. So we borrowed a have-a-heart trap from the local Humane Society and, when we felt the time was right, we set it.
We originally planned to set the trap overnight, but changed our mind when we envisioned him sitting in there, scared for hours before time to take him to the shelter. So we scrubbed that idea. Nor could I bear to withhold his food for a time to ensure he would go into the trap for food. I was surprised at how much time, energy, thought, and emotion we put into Garage Kitty during those ten days.
I fed him as usual the night before. In the morning, we waited until it was close to time for the shelter to open. Then we got dressed and ready. We set the trap, put his breakfast in there and got out of his way. Within seconds, he was caught.
We covered the trap for his thirty-minute ride in the car, thinking this would make him feel more secure and less frightened. He didn’t make a sound, unlike our own kitties, who complain during car rides. We whispered words of encouragement to him as they carted him away, said a prayer that he would find the best life possible, and we left a generous donation, then drove home in relative silence.
I must say, I’m a little sad. I miss seeing that bright little guy around.
Where did he come from? How did he get here? That is still a puzzle, but I think I know what happened. We have construction going on at the house next door and one behind us. Cars and trucks come and go all day long, every day. It’s possible that Garage Kitty climbed into the engine compartment or the back of one of the trucks when the worker left his home in another city or from another job site and the cat escaped once they arrived in our neighborhood.
Whatever the kitty’s back story, let’s hope that he falls into the best case scenario for him, whether it is a loving home, a safe colony, or he gets a job as a barn cat or a ratter in a factory.