Dry Spell: What’s a bored trapper to do?

The past two weeks have been a bust. Out of four possible trapping nights in twelve days I’ve caught nothing. Well, that’s not true, I’ve retrapped Skittish about three times and the kitten, Coyote, twice. I need traps just to trap and hold the cats I’ve already fixed.

I’ve noticed the cats not hanging around the building this week. I suspect the coyotes killing the raccoons in the creek have put them on edge. One night I was listening to the coyotes fighting the raccoons as I stood on the front porch and White Spot, who I’ve desperately want to catch, actually ran up the stairs to the patio, eyes wide, ears and tail showing signs of stress and fear. She weighed her fear though – me on the patio or the coyote fight in the creek – and she promptly ran back down stairs. That’s a good feeling. A cat would rather take his chances with coyotes than me.

Often while I’m waiting for cats to go-in-my-damn-trap-already in the Texas hot night I spend my time checking Facebook or mail on my phone. I’ll think about our foster kitten dilemma and how we really wish we could keep them, consider all the things that would have to happen for us to keep them (move to a house, weekly baths for them for life, buy big kennel, etc), and then talk myself out of it (better off living with people who don’t care if their furniture is destroyed, aren’t allergic to cats, etc). Quietly I will White Spot to return to my side of the building, while at the same time quietly willing Skittish and others I’ve trapped to stay away. I’ll amuse myself with ever so clever ideas like a photography series called TNR Trapper in Repose. Or better yet, a painting series, in the Pre-Raphaelite style, of trappers quietly waiting for cats to be trapped. Then I lose ten minutes deciding what style of painting would capture the mix of boredom, anticipation, desperation, and hope that a trapper can endure.  It’s all worth it of course when you catch a cat, can get it fixed, vaccinated and returned to its home, ensuring another generation of unwanted, uncared for kittens won’t add to the colony.

In the meantime, I’ve created a Trapped, Neutered, and Returned page to the site, as  way to remind myself that I have actually trapped cats, and eventually, I’ll trap more…and now I’ll go play with my dog and foster kittens until next week’s trapping nights.

Boomer and Baby Gray

Boomer and Baby Gray

 

The Apartment Complex OG: Older Gentleman

Last night my husband and I finally went to talk to the older gentleman in the building next to us. He’s the caretaker of the apartment complex’s cat colony. Becoming the caretaker happened by accident though. Thirteen years ago when he moved into his apartment he started feeding the raccoons. At first, he said, he’d go over the fence and feed them on the wood side. Then, “probably because I got lazy,” he started feeding them on his patio. The cats were actually just a byproduct of feeding his raccoons.

The raccoons and cats don't generally bother each other

The raccoons and cats don’t generally bother each other. There’s glare on this photo because while the raccoons were on the patio I didn’t want the patio door opened.

Once, he said, he had up to 23 raccoons lining his patio, shoulder to shoulder, eating. They don’t seem to have many predators, and they certainly have a steady food supply. However, a few nights ago the coyotes returned to the area. There was a major fight between them, perhaps six or so, and the raccoons. In nearly four years and several coyote fights, this was the worst one I’d ever heard. The raccoon put up quiet a fight. You could hear the animals thrashing in the creek, the coyote cheerleaders yipping along the sidelines. At least one raccoon probably didn’t make it that night.

He puts a water bowl, full of ice, on a marble slab. The slab cools down and the animals love to lay on it. The raccoons dirty the evening water bowl so he has a second bowl in the kitchen just waiting to be replaced for the cats.

He puts a water bowl, full of ice, on a marble slab. The slab cools down and the animals love to lay on it. The raccoons dirty the evening water bowl so he has a second bowl in the kitchen just waiting to be replaced for the cats.

I learned a few things during last night’s visit. One, there are a lot more cats in this complex than I ever realized. Two, the older gentleman doesn’t really believe in cat vaccinations, neutering the colony, etc. He is okay with me trapping and getting the cats fixed though. He just doesn’t think it matters and that it’s a waste of time. Having the Texas animal cruelty laws posted in the complex mailbox area made him extremely happy though. He was very excited that there are other people in the complex who care about the cats.

This cat has three 3 week old kittens. When the raccoons first started entering the patio this night she set up clear boundaries of acceptable distance by hissing. The raccoons respected it for the most part. The raccoons generally didn't care about the cat and the kittens.

This cat has three 3 week old kittens. When the raccoons first started entering the patio this night she set up clear boundaries of acceptable distance by hissing. The raccoons respected it for the most part. The raccoons generally didn’t care about the cat and the kittens.

Hopefully over time he might be willing to help me trap. There were two feral cats in his apartment already when we went to talk to him. They were just hanging out, eating, using the kitty litter and waiting until the raccoons left before going back outside. I could probably set my traps down inside by his patio door and they’d walk in. I left him some information about the Humane Society’s program and how TNR works. Perhaps one day he’ll help them get fixed. In the meantime though, the cats are lucky to have him.

Texas Animal Anti-Cruelty Laws

I’ve lived in my apartment complex for almost seven years. When I first moved to Austin few places would allow “aggressive” breed dogs. My beloved Anna (seen in my profile picture) was a Chow Chow and German Shepherd mix. Both breeds are considered “aggressive” causing challenges to home and rental insurance. My apartment complex didn’t limit on breed labels and so we found a home. Shortly after moving in I added another dog to the pack, Rhys, another Chow Shepherd mix (she’s the dog featured with my foster kittens in the photos).

When I started my TNR work with the apartment colony I kept management in the loop. I told them my goals and why I was doing it. They were extremely supportive of my efforts. Previously they had tried to find an organization to come trap and fix all the cats, but they were told they had to do it by themselves. The management staff was excited I was helping and made sure all the maintenance staff knew what I was doing. Recently we even discussed hosting a community night where I could help train and share resources with other neighbors who might be interested in joining the work.

On Friday my main contact in the management staff called me. They wanted my insight into a problem. A resident had recently called Animal Control. He had seen a cat with an injured back leg (I suspect he saw Limpy). He was concerned it was attacked by raccoons and needed to be trapped. He also wondered if all the cats needed to be removed because of the danger. The Animal Control representative told the resident that the feral cats had a right to exist in the community, but then added that the resident had the right to “dispose” of the cats. He was concerned about this advice and called the apartment complex about the conversation. They in turn, called me to see if I knew the law.

I love research, so I was happy to delve into the question of what the law might be regarding feral cats in Texas or Austin. What I quickly discovered is that feral cats can be a tricky aspect of the law. I first went through the hoops of calling Austin Animal Center which routes you to 311. They routed me to Austin Police Department and my local representative. The APD rep went through a few searches and told me about ordinance:

3-5-4  DESTRUCTION OF A DANGEROUS ANIMAL.

     (A)     The health authority may destroy a dangerous animal running at large if the health authority reasonably believes that the animal’s capture may be hazardous due to the nature, disposition or diseased condition of the animal.

     (B)     A peace officer may destroy a dangerous animal if the peace officer reasonably believes that the animal presents a threat to a person’s life.

Source: 1992 Code Section 3-1-3(C); Ord. 031009-9; Ord. 031211-11.

A feral, she told me, can be considered a dangerous animal.  But even on that premise, I told her that this code only allows a non-citizen the option of disposing of the animal. While I talked with her I was able to find online the Texas law regarding shooting stray animals. I read her what I found:

Shooting “stray” Dogs and Cats (Penal Code 42.09 Animal Cruelty).  Any person who shoots a non-livestock animal, which includes any stray or feral cat or dog, and a wild living creature previously captured, can be charged with a felony offense.  Penal Code 42.092 of the State of Texas law states that a person must have the owner’s consent to kill the animal (exceptions to prosecution are provided in Section 42.092(e)(1)).  It is clear that a “stray” dog or cat either has no owner or that the person who shoots the animal did not get the owner’s consent.

Her response was that since this was only for shooting a person could easily put out poison for the animal. She told me how I can search city codes and ordinance and our call ended. I was hardly satisfied, although I appreciated her attempt to figure out this niche of the law. I emailed Mike at the Austin Humane Society’s Feral Cat Program as well as Sheila at Shadow Cats. I was determined to find more information to provide to my apartment complex. I could not let neighbors think they could legally kill the feral cats. I was also terrified to learn that perhaps, just perhaps, they could in fact legally kill the feral cats.

Luckily Sheila had an amazing flier from the Texas Humane Legislation Network. It clearly and succinctly outlines the law.

Texas Animal Anti-Cruelty Law:  Texas Penal Code §§ 42.09 and 42.092

Non-Livestock Animals (Section 42.092)

It is a Crime

To intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:

Torture, cruelly kill, or cause serious injury to any dog or cat, including strays and ferals;

Kill, poison, or cause bodily injury to an animal without the owner’s consent;

Abandon or fail to provide food, water, care, or shelter to any animal in your custody; or

Transport or confine an animal in a cruel manner.

Livestock Animals (Section 42.09)

It is a Crime To:

Torture a livestock animal;

Abandon or fail to provide food, water, or care to a livestock animal in your custody;

Transport or confine a livestock animal in a cruel and unusual manner;

Trip a horse; or

Seriously overwork a livestock animal.

Also illegal are animal fighting and using live animals as racing lures!

O F    S P E C I A L   N O T E:

Since September of 2007, domesticated animals including any stray or feral cat or dog are included under this law.  Torturing, killing, poisoning or causing bodily injury to these animals on first offense carries a fine of as much as $10,000 and up to two years in jail.

I quickly shared this helpful flier with both Mike at the Humane Society and my apartment complex. I also sent this information to the Austin Animal Center, explaining what an Animal Control representative said and what the law is.  Their response was that they would share the information with another department. My apartment management team was so thankful the law supported their initial reaction that hurting or killing the feral cats was illegal. They printed the flier out and posted it in the complex’s mailbox area and computer area.

My apartment complex posted the Texas anti-cruelty laws in public

My apartment complex posted the Texas anti-cruelty laws in public

While it is true that my apartment complex is ahead of the game when it comes to being supportive of “aggressive” breed dogs, like my own dear Rhys (as well as giving me their regrets and kind wishes when Anna passed on in February this year), and supportive of my efforts to help the feral cats, I believe more apartment complexes might embrace feral cat communities. However, it takes education, and it takes a feral cat ally to be encouraging and positive of the complex’ efforts, as small as they might be.

I’ll take a cat, any cat

I really wanted to catch two cats for today’s clinic, but I told myself to be content with getting at least one. I had three cats on my list: White Spot, the rare black cat, and the elusive orange and white cat. The black cat either lives almost exclusively in the woods or near another building in the complex. She’s possibly one of the black kittens born around our apartment in the past four years, but I can’t be sure. Two of the previous black kittens were hit by cars and killed a year or so into their lives. The black cat isn’t close friends with a lot of the nearby colony, but she’s close to White Spot it seems. The orange and white cat hangs out a lot around our building, but she doesn’t like us at all, or trust our dog. She generally remains on the wood side of the chain link fence, but seems to tolerant, perhaps even trust, the older gentleman who feeds the cats. For a while she had taken up the habit of sleeping on some downed branches overlooking the creek. My husband thinks she liked to watch the fish. We would see her sunbathing there every day. She generally is close with Sans Boots and one or two other cats. Unlike Kitty Mama and the others I’ve trapped, I highly doubt either the black or the orange cat would remain near a trap if another cat was caught.

I gathered my equipment together (including bug spray – lesson learned last week) and set up a little after 9pm. I placed both traps along the sidewalk with wet food as bait. Within minutes Kitty Mama appeared and was willing to go into the traps. “Where was this trap eagerness when I tried to get you the last few weeks?” I asked. I chased her off about three times. Over the next half hour my neighbor brought his dog out for a final potty break. Another neighbor left and returned to his apartment. There’s nothing like looking insane as you sit crouched on the top of some steps overlooking cat traps.

White Spot appeared once by herself and did the same thing as last week – loved chasing the red laser but refused to step into the trap. Suddenly I was startled because out of nowhere Limpy appeared. He wasn’t on my list, but I was certainly going to take him if he bothered to enter the trap. Sadly, he smelled both traps and was unwilling to do nothing more than stick his head into the trap and smell the open door. Next time my friend.

Eventually both White Spot and Limpy disappeared into the woods. I sat at the top of the stairs waiting and listening to the raccoon fights. They were really active last night. I hoped that it would work to my benefit and keep the cats away from the older gentleman’s patio (since that’s where they eat), forcing the cats to eat from my traps.

An hour later White Spot returned. Cautiously behind her was the black cat. Whereas White Spot loves the red laser and acts like any domesticated indoor cat, the black cat wasn’t interested in it on any level. It was utterly beneath her. The black cat was, however, really interested in the food. She smelled all around the closed end of the trap next to the tuna. She investigated both traps thoroughly. Eventually she rubbed her head up against the open door and set it off, closing the trap. I waited a few minutes and then went down the stairs to reset it. They both watched me from a safe distance. Punks.

White Spot and black cat

Over the next half hour a raccoon climbed up the stone wall on the other side of the fence. Both cats watched him cautiously, but weren’t about to run away. The raccoon, who may have been the younger one I already caught several weeks prior, started to get a little too interested in climbing the fence so I ran down the stairs to frighten him. “See, I’m on your side, I don’t like raccoons either,” I said to the cats.  Going downstairs wasn’t enough to scare off the raccoon so I charged the fence. The cats hunkered down in their spots but the raccoon ran off. Luckily there were no neighbors around to see my actions.

I went back up the stairs and proceeded to entertain myself with White Spot and the red laser. I knew she wouldn’t go in the traps (although I kept trying), but it killed some time until another cat might appear. Eventually the orange cat came around, but refused to come over the fence to our side where the trap was. Soon the black cat and White Spot were playing with a frog. They didn’t kill it, just played with it, tapping it, jumping back, watching it react. Usual cat fun.

Orange refusing, as usual, to come to this side of the fence

Orange refusing, as usual, to come to this side of the fence

All three cats watching or playing with the frog

All three cats watching or playing with the frog

Eventually around midnight I gave up and went inside with the plan to check the traps every hour or two. I know you’re not supposed to leave traps unattended, but I needed some sleep and really wanted to catch one.  Just another case of me being a bad trapper. I went to bed thinking I’d end up with just cats I’ve already trapped. Two hours later I got up and discovered I had trapped a new cat. He wasn’t on my list at all of my goal cats (who so clearly snubbed me earlier), but was a rare visitor to our area, Mama Cat’s brother. Mama Cat was the first cat several years ago to give birth to a litter under the sidewalk next to our apartment. Mama Cat’s brother looks just like Mama Cat, but is a bit bigger/bulkier, although not by much. We have no idea if they’re related; it was just a name that my husband and I use to identify him in our conversations. We really haven’t named our feral cats much.

I quickly covered up Mama Cat’s brother and brought him upstairs. I left the second trap out downstairs on the off chance I would catch another one. On my third check, around 4am, I discovered I caught Kitty Mama again. The white and gray skittish cat was around and Coyote stayed on top of the cat trap until I leaned over to open it. Kitty Mama freaked out a bit, but after a second she shot out of the trap into the woods. She had eaten the food so I just brought up the trap and called it quits for the night, pleased I had at least one cat to show for my work and possibly two more hours of sleep ahead of me.

Mama Cat's Brother

Getting ready for the clinic

Furry Fun: Why I don’t get many chores done around the house

In looking back through my camera and phone I realize I haven’t taken many photos of my two growing foster kittens in the last two weeks. They’ve been very active since they were treated for their tapeworms. Within 24 hours of being treated at the vet last Monday, I was very worried Boomer would no longer be my little cuddlebug. In feeling better she gained a load of energy, to Baby Gray’s challenge. Running attacks, secret ambushes, and a healthy dose of defensive moves were now in the mix. All her cuddling was a sign of how poorly she felt. Luckily she’s now moved to a nice mix of rambunctious playing and cuddles.

When we first brought them in as fosters I had purchased several little cat toys. I think my husband questioned my purchases because at first the kittens didn’t seem to understand how to play with them. They seem to have solved that dilemma. While they are kenneled during the day when we’re at work, the kittens fully utilize their “yard time” when out of the kennel. Below are just some of their adventures since my last Boomer and Baby Gray blog post.

We move their toys around so they can safely leap and jump without too much injury if they don’t stick the landing.

When one chooses to play with a toy, they inadvertently become the target of the other.

Baby Gray helping me sew a cat trap cover

Baby Gray helping me sew a cat trap cover

Boomer: Don't you have enough photos of me?

Boomer: Don’t you have enough photos of me?

First kitten shots. Boomer weighs 1.63 pounds and Baby Gray weighs 1.72

First kitten shots. Boomer weighs 1.63 pounds and Baby Gray weighs 1.72

Boomer has a blast with the towel and Baby Gray wants me to hold her paw.

Inflated bubble wrap arrived with their food from amazon. It is one of their favorite new toys. Baby Gray runs into the camera at one point and throughout much of this filming I’m trying to keep Boomer off the camera’s strap.

Kitty Mama, the cat who started it all: Part 2

My husband and I were discussing this morning when it was that we first noticed Kitty Mama join the colony. She wasn’t part of any litter we saw directly by our apartment. We first noticed her sometime in the last eight months or so. Several times we had commented on the new small cat that still had the energy of a kitten. I’d watch her back then engage with the gray and white cats and Sans Boots, enticing them to play, chasing their tails, and hunting bugs.  She was generally skittish of us at first, but gradually realized we never attempted to pet her, and that our dog never did anything of concern. Soon enough she became as brazen as Sans Boots, lounging around when we brought the dog out for a break and refusing to move when we walked by.

It was a busy day at the AHS clinic. Kitty Mama is in the blue covered trap.

It was a busy day at the AHS clinic. Kitty Mama is in the blue covered trap.

When I picked her up from the Humane Society’s clinic yesterday the staff told me they estimated she was a year old. They also said she was in heat so it was perfect timing to bring her in. I’m so glad I was able to catch her before she had another litter. It’s hard to say if her kitten, Millie, had a genetic defect that caused her Swimmer Kitten Syndrome, and if she might have more like Millie. Regardless though, at a year old she can now look forward to a healthier future without the stress of multiple litters.

In the meantime though, Kitty Mama was pissed. Rain was pouring down and I’m afraid she may have gotten a little wet, even with the trap cover. As we arrived back at the apartment I was surprised to find (and totally startled) another colony cat who we don’t see much, Limpy. He’s lived in the complex for ages and his back left leg was injured years ago. We rarely see him around our apartment and it was the first time I ever found him on our upstairs patio. Limpy gets around just fine though and quickly ran down the stairs when I apparently woke him up from a nap.

When we kidnapped Millie from Kitty Mama six weeks ago there was a lot of tension and stress in the air. Kitty Mama’s energy was rage and fear and Sans Boots was watching from the sidelines as I kept her off the stairs while my husband snatched the kitten. It happened that Limpy came by the area at the time and suddenly Sans Boots started a fight with him and Kitty Mama took the opportunity to let her rage out on him too, since she couldn’t do it to us.  I tried to break up the fight. Surprisingly this was the first cat fight I’d seen in our colony in nearly four years of living near them. My husband has seen one or two before. The fight was intense and over quickly with Limpy running away.

On the front patio Kitty Mama remained dry while I had to clean up the mess she left me the previous night after I had trapped her. I discovered yesterday morning when I checked on her, before going to the clinic, that she had completely destroyed the cardboard floor covering and food plate.  She had also pulled in the half of the trap cover and had pooped over everything. It was as bad as when I trapped the young raccoon that freaked out in the cage. As my husband carried her to the car for me to take her to the clinic, I was very grateful for my plastic lining I used in the back of my wagon. On the drive to the clinic I had to roll down the window because the cat poop smelled so hellish. I just thought, well played Kitty Mama, well played.

As it was I had to clean up the remaining mess on the patio before I could put her there to recoup. After getting everything cleaned and set up I settled her back there with our outdoor fan blowing near her, but not on her. Within the hour her stress level was elevated. By the time my husband came home she was throwing herself against the cage and striking out. My major concern was that she would end up injuring herself on the trap. I emailed with my TNR mentor Shelia at Shadow Cats for advice. She suggested quiet and dark. None of the previous three cats I trapped demonstrated this level of stress and acting out. Since we only have the back patio for cat recoup, and Kitty Mama was also clearly still drugged, thus unsafe to be let out early, my husband and I created a tent over her covered trap with old tapestries I had when I was in my early 20s. Her recoup area looked like a college dorm room.

Kitty Mama's dorm style recoup center

Kitty Mama’s dorm style recoup center

She did manage to eat and eventually calm down over the next hour or two, especially if we sat out next to the cage, but not too close to it. I had the hardest time going to sleep that night. I kept worrying about White Spot and if she’s pregnant and how the heck I was going to trap her. Then after 11 when I finally started to drift off, Kitty Mama began her stress cries. I checked on her and she had removed the trap cover. I replaced it and sat with her for a few minutes until she calmed down. She was silent for about an hour. Then, roughly each hour for the rest of the morning she would begin stress cries until my husband or I went to check on her. I also had to calm my dog down each time because Kitty Mama’s cries set her off into a panic. She’d run to my side of the bed alerting me to the cat. “Kitty is upset. Get up! Let’s check on her! Help Kitty!” The dog is never allowed contact with the feral cats on the back patio while they recoup, but she’s highly committed to their safe recovery. Kitty Mama’s night cries made me so very happy there wouldn’t be another clinic until next Wednesday. At least there were some nights in my future when I could catch up on my sleep.

Kitty Mama recovering

When Kitty Mama was released this morning she immediately ran into the woods and scooted under the chain-link fence. After a night of stress crying you’d think she might have a sore throat, but she began her little protest cries of trauma after crossing the fence line into the creek area. Suddenly, the cat congregation by the older gentleman’s patio looked around and ran to find Kitty Mama. Shortly she had Sans Boots and both of the white and grays rubbing faces and necks with her. I could hear her chirping and crying to them for quite some time. Eventually they realized I was watching them and they left to go back to the neighbor’s patio. It felt like a bad high school movie when the gang of girls are trash talking about someone, see their target of discussion, and then, with a huff and a toss of the hair, walk away disgusted. I just whispered, “You’re next White Spot,” and walked away.

Read Part 1 of Kitty Mama

Kitty Mama, the cat who started it all: Part 1

I knew eventually trapping the colony was going to be difficult. Actual work. The first cats are suckers. They want the food and they’re willing to go into a strange contraption for it. I appreciate their hunger and naiveté. The first three cats (and two raccoons) were in fact easy. Throughout yesterday I plotted how I was going to step up my game. Now it’s a game of wits – me vs cats. It’s not going to be a proud day when they win and I lose with an empty trap.

I decided to use the few resources I had to my advantage. I had a simple spring trap (when the cat goes toward the food it steps on a lever that allows the door to close). I had wet food, which I hoped would be more enticing than the dry food the older gentleman in the building next to us feeds them. And then there was the field of battle. My front patio is up a flight of stairs. The cats regularly hang out below them. We’ve played string with them from our patio down to them on the ground. I decided to set up the trap on the ground level. I wouldn’t use the lever though. I decided to tie the string we usually use to play with the cats to tie the trap door open. I could stand on our upstairs patio and watch below who was going into the trap. This would allow me to close it or scare off raccoons. I hoped it would also allow me to frighten off cats I’ve already trapped. I learned when I trapped Sans Boots that I can lose a lot of time trapping cats I’ve already trapped.

When I left book club after 9pm my husband told me that he has spotted Sans Boots and Kitty Mama under the stairs when he took the dogs out. My drive home was filled with running through scenarios of trying to trap Kitty Mama, Millie’s mom. I wanted to try to trap her and one of the gray and white cats, White Spot, as I suspect she’s pregnant. I told myself I would be happy with at least one of them.

I immediately took the trap downstairs when I got home and placed the wet food in it. My husband helped me by holding the string at the top of the patio while I tied it off on the trap door. The string had to be held tight from the patio the entire time. These spring traps are not set up to be manual drop traps. If the string was loosened before the cat was in the trap I’d have to go downstairs and reset the entire thing.

Within ten minutes both Kitty Mama and White Spot were on the scene. Holy crap I thought, I could be successful with fifteen minutes of trying if I do this right. Perhaps, I thought, I might be a trapping genius.

Unluckily the video is very dark, but it is almost 11pm. White Spot refused to enter the trap, despite her desire to catch the red laser. It was exceptionally frustrating. Probably for both of us.

I’m such a fool. The previous cats had lulled me into a false sense of TNR ease. Kitty Mama walked up to the trap and smelled it all around. Then she went right up to the door and sat with her back to the entryway. White Spot was even less interested. I immediately regretted not heating up the food first. I was sure the scent of the slightly heated food would be more enticing. I couldn’t do anything about it at that point though.

Over the next hour Sans Boots and the original white and gray I trapped – the skittish one – joined us. Both Sans Boots and skittish kitty attempted to enter the trap. I flapped the door trying to startle them. Both of these cats looked up at me. Sans Boots considered the situation for a bit and then went off to lie in his favorite spot on the bricks. The skittish one didn’t seem fazed. She kept trying to go into the trap. My husband happened to join me at this moment and took a little bit of sand from one of the planters and sprinkled it lightly next to the skittish gray. She scooted out of there in a second.

Toward the end of the hour I began to seriously question my ability to trap one of the two cats I wanted. I suddenly realized what I needed – the red laser pointer. My husband was already back inside the apartment. I didn’t want to drop the string and then have to reset the trap, and I couldn’t reach the door without dropping the string. I pulled the trap door as high as it could go by the string’s length and managed to get to the halfway point on the patio. Then I leaned over, reached out my leg, and kicked the door. After three attempts my husband heard me and enabled my plan by searching and bringing me the laser pointer.

Again I began feeling like a trapping genius. I have serious ego issues to work through I think. White Spot immediately had interest in the red spot on the ground. I had her running up and down the sidewalk chasing it. I slowly used the laser to bring her back to the trap. I made the laser hover around the front of the trap, and then danced it in and out of the trap, keeping her interested, and hoping like heck she’d fall for this new plan.

She did not. We played with the laser for a solid ten minutes. I could get her to go halfway into the trap entrance. Not a step further. White Spot isn’t a fool. I hoped that at least all this exercise would make her hungry enough to go in for the food, but again, no. I was going to have to figure out another plan for her.

To entertain myself while I awaited Kitty Mama to return to the scene, I played with Sans Boots, Skittish gray, and White Spot with the laser point up and down the sidewalk. Sans Boots cracked me up the most. He would get seriously into it. Skittish gray, at one point, was chasing the light down the sidewalk and then stepped on a wet leaf. She leapt at least two feet into the air. I only wish I had it on film.

Eventually Kitty Mama returned. I caught her interest immediately. During all the down time of just playing with the cats I had kept them at the far end of the sidewalk, away from the trap. I now needed to bring Kitty Mama to the trap, but somehow keep the others away. The others who were clearly vested in our laser game.  Kitty Mama was about two feet closer to me than the closest other cat, Skittish gray. I prayed she was a fast runner and a more alpha female who Skittish gray would concede the chase to. I lucked out. Kitty Mama immediately began racing after the laser toward the trap. Skittish gray gave up the chase after a few feet. I was able to bring Kitty Mama right up to the trap.

She showed the same hesitation White Spot showed. I played with the laser all around the trap with Kitty Mama in hot pursuit. I brought her close to the trap entrance a few times, just to get her comfortable with the idea. Then I took the laser right into the trap and Kitty Mama ran in. I dropped the door and then I stood in pure shock that it actually worked. The only downfall to this plan, the one aspect of it I really hate, is that I trap a cat who’s really geared up. It’s not fair on their stress level, but I couldn’t get her any other way. I called my husband to see my success and grabbed the trap cover to help her calm down. She was too stressed to get any photos and I quickly covered her.

My husband carried her trap to our back patio and I set her up away from the edge (in case it rained) and with our outdoor fan blowing near, but not on her. It was about 11:30pm. I did several victory dances. I had finally caught Millie’s mom, the cat that started it all.

Part 2