Rule #1: Forget Everything You Think You Know

I have been stalking a feral cat for weeks now because I knew (from her behavior) that somewhere she had stashed a litter of kittens.  She represents my worst attempt at trapping a feral to have her fixed.  She was on her third litter when I finally trapped her and then she outwitted me and got out of her cage.  Ever since then she has been “trap wise,” not coming anywhere near me if she saw me with a trap.

I knew she had cooked up a fourth litter and went about looking in the locations she had kept her previous litters, including a massive bank of spider web-covered juniper bushes, but no luck.  Finally, after a couple of weeks I saw a kitten through the fence boards around a nearby townhouse in my complex.   And another kitten a few houses away.  I knocked on doors and asked around and it seems that everyone knew about the kittens aside from me, the guy who is looking for them.

I was rewarded for my efforts with a few diatribes on the cat population in our complex.  I wondered why none of these annoyed people had thought to call an animal welfare group or pet rescue, rather than just pissing and moaning about the kittens.  I thought of the brochure for PCR I had thumb-tacked to the mailbox kiosks; a brochure that clearly nobody has given a second glance, despite their issue with feral cats.

After more knocking on doors and more questions I finally came to the yard where the kittens spend the majority of their time. The woman I spoke with was at first very eager to help me catch them, but changed her tune when she started to see me not as a pet rescuer, but more like animal services.  I assured that none of the cats (aside from those terminally ill) trapped by me have been euthanized.  Either they are socialized and adopted, or they are fixed and returned outdoors if the former is not possible.

But I knew my words were falling on deaf ears as she gave me excuse after excuse why she should not help me.  Mostly things like “They are too young, they need their mother still.”  Wrong.  If they can climb trees and run from yard to yard, they no longer need their mother, and in fact might already be too old for me to successfully socialize.   I don’t know how this will turn out but I am not especially optimistic, suspecting I will have to trap them once they are older, get them fixed and toss them back out for a lifetime of feral living.

There are hundreds of Old Wives’ Tales about cats and dogs, most of which are a complete rubbish, despite how much they have persisted over the years.  If you find kittens or puppies, forget everything you think you know and call someone for help. There is no guarantee that your local pet rescue can take them off your hands but they will at least know what can be done to effect the best case scenario for the animals given your location and situation.  And call right away, with lots of information—specifics on where and at what time of day you saw them, for instance; quick response and correct information can make all the difference.

Do your part and we’ll continue to try our best to do ours.

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