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A Trapping Story

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

AzCATs have been helping us trap cats at Sahuaro Ranch Park for over two years now. Thanks to Jan and several other trappers, we have managed to TNR over eighty cats. Last spring we discovered two new litters of kittens in the park; one with three kittens, the other with two.

The litter of three we found in a woodpile - their mom nowhere to be seen (to this day we don't know who the mom is). The other two kittens were in a large fenced area known as the 'chicken coop'. Their momma was a calico we had been trying to capture since AzCats first came out to help us. Jan even brought her drop trap one evening, but still no luck. (This is one smart momma.) We named her Cricket.

We decided to first go after the (three) woodpile kittens since they appeared to be the older litter. After several failed trapping outings, Kevin built a drop trap (modeled after Jan's). We set the drop trap up next to the woodpile, where the kittens were used to being fed. In five minutes we had all three; two females and one male (Candy, Cobbles and Corky). Since their day trip to Van Aken all three have settled back into their park lives. We see them most evenings during their feeding time and they seem healthy and happy.

(Cheeto & Einstein)

The following week we set out to the chicken coop after the other two kittens and their momma (Cricket). The conditions in the coop were the most miserable we've encountered while trapping. It was early in the monsoon season - very hot and humid. Of all nights, on this one they decide to irrigate the coop. And, being a chicken coop, the ground was already a slimy, mushy swamp, reeking of chicken droppings and teeming with mosquitoes. To top it all off, ants were swarming all over.

We squished our way into the coop and set up the drop trap. As before, within five minutes both kittens were trapped, but Cricket was nowhere to be seen. We reset the trap with the kittens as bait. Then we waited and waited. As minutes turned to hours, our tempers grew short, the bugs got thicker, and still no Cricket. We decided to give it up for the evening. The two (ex-)male kittens we named Cheeto and Einstein. Cheeto, a beautiful orange and white long hair, is thriving and a regular at our evening feedings. Einstein, tragically, was somehow mortally injured and had to be put down a few months ago.

We went back several nights that week, only to have her lay there, look at the trap, and then look at us as if to say, "do I have stupid written on my forehead?" The following Sunday night we again set the drop trap inside the chicken coop. Luckily they weren't irrigating this week! Just when we were about to give up, we saw movement in the grass...A CALICO! We waited until she went in the trap, pulled the string, and voila, trapped! We were ecstatic! We covered her and took her home. The next morning I went out to check on her. AHHHHHHHHHH!!! Wrong calico, with ear already tipped!

Flash forward another week or so. There we sit again, not so patiently waiting. Eventually, Cricket comes casually strolling out from an area in which we have never before seen her. As sweat is rolling off of us, she circles the drop trap, briefly sniffing about, then walks away. After an hour has past we see her approach the trap once more. She goes closer and closer this time. Finally! She goes under the edge of the trap toward the bait. We almost cannot contain our excitement! We pull the trip string. The trap falls. Cricket is finally caught! Or not! It falls on her back, she jumps up and out of the trap. We go home feeling quite defeated and very bummed out.

Six months and numerous trapping sessions later, and still Cricket eludes us....

It's January and tomorrow is feral cat spay day. We still have approximately six cats in the park to catch. We gather as many traps that will fit in the car (four), strap the drop trap onto the roof, and head back to the park. It's still early evening and we elect to set a couple traps and the drop trap. (The other two traps we will use to house cats caught in the drop trap.) Within ten minutes we have two of the target cats - we're down to two available traps. Cricket appears, but as usual is standoffish toward the trap.

She watches from a distance as her dozen and a half colony mates (most of which are already snipped and tipped) go in and chow down on the bait tuna. Though pessimistic about catching her, we still have two traps to fill with other, more gullible ferals. To our surprise Cricket cautiously walks over closer to the drop trap. Our hearts start pounding faster in anticipation. She starts circling and watching the two cats eating from within the drop trap. Eventually, all the food is consumed but if we put more in the trap it will scare her away. We sit and watch. Gradually she inches closer to the trap. Then, she's going in! She's halfway in. Next, she's all the way in but too close to the edge. We're afraid she'll see there's no food and bolt before she goes in far enough. But she continues slowly in! AHHHH, we pull the string, down comes the trap, and... WE GOT HER!! We're jumping with joy. It's been over a year trying to get her. We can't believe it!! We're astounded by our good luck

We decide to wrap it up for the evening, even with one empty trap remaining. I ran to gather the other trap and much to my surprise, there is another feral in it... and it's one that hasn't been snipped and tipped!

So, we can add four more to the grand total of 'happy' cats at the park. Not a large addition, but a major success having caught Cricket! There are now only three more ferals to capture at the park; one more potential momma and two more males. That is, until someone else drops off their cat at Sahuaro Ranch Park!
post #2 of 9
What a fabulous story!!! I so admire everyone's dedication. But they are all so easy to love, aren't they?

post #3 of 9
What a fantastic story! Yet another feral saved and untold kittens spared.
post #4 of 9
What a wonderful story!

Question -- your photographs (this and your other posts) are so vibrant and clear. Can I ask what kind of camera you are using? I am guessing it is a 35MM camera of some type.
post #5 of 9
awesome story- my magic bait for ferals is catnip. Just thought I would pass that on. I put it in the trap and in the food as well.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by catsplay.com
What a wonderful story!

Question -- your photographs (this and your other posts) are so vibrant and clear. Can I ask what kind of camera you are using? I am guessing it is a 35MM camera of some type.
It's a Kodak Digital DC280 zoom.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by hissy
awesome story- my magic bait for ferals is catnip. Just thought I would pass that on. I put it in the trap and in the food as well.
That's a great idea! Never thought of that. We've used chicken legs, Tuna, Sardines, regular canned cat food, you name it..but never catnip! Thanks for the pointer. We've had fairly good luck, but there have been a couple of the females that have been tough to catch. And they all have been calico!
post #8 of 9
Just don't use a lot of it, a little goes a long way-
post #9 of 9
Oh thanks, MA - NOW you tell us!
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