Posted in cats, pets

To catch a cat*

It’s true, I did a lot of sitting on my behind – not being lazy. I found that sitting still in one place –mostly on the hard cement step of my porch – is the best way to catch a cat.

Mama Cat cleaning her kittens after an afternoon feeding on the back porch.

Occasionally I’d find a pile of mixed vegetables on the sidewalk that apparently hadn’t agreed with her digestive system. It wasn’t at all appetizing to me either, as I cleaned up the mess.

At first I shooed her, figuring she’d return to her owner when I chased her over the imaginary boundary of our yard. Surely someone was missing this pretty kitty – she appeared healthy but was very, very shy.

I’d been feeding an abandoned tomcat, and he allowed her to share his dinner. I soon learned that she had been hiding some kittens in the nearby woods. They straggled playfully behind her to the porch to eat. Her “boyfriend” was plainly fond of the kittens – or was it the kitty-cuisine? Anyway, the whole family was now enjoying meals-a-la-porch, and I was hosting a nightly dinner party. I knew she’d attract more “guests” as soon as she went into heat again, and I wanted to avoid that.

Her kittens looked about seven weeks old when they were introduced to me. I sat each night on the porch step to get to know them better. Kittens need to be introduced to humans as early as possible in order to civilize them. I was determined to catch the little critters and tame them. I managed to scrape up the money for a Hav-a-Hart trap, and I caught them, but now what?

Their mother, unfortunately, was more than a wee bit pregnant again by this time. By my calculation, she was due within a day or two. If she had her kittens in the woods, I’d lose a chance to tame them at the earliest time I could. So I spent several hours setting delicious canned cat food in the trap for her, and she delicately ate each morsel without springing the trap.

My derriere was becoming numb from sitting still. Risking springing the trap myself, I set the last big scoop of canned food on the plate and eased it onto the trap’s spring. Good thing she was still hungry. I couldn’t imagine going through torture like that again the next day. I wanted no more bum-numbing nights spent on my porch step.

I sat ever so still as she approached the food. Ka-chung! I had caught her at last.

She gave birth to four tiny, mewling kittens the following evening, in captivity. After a long, cool autumn spent in our garage, and as soon as the kittens were weaned, we had Mama cat spayed and released her when the weather had warmed in late spring.

She then began bringing me presents, leaving them on the porch step: sometimes a dead vole, or a half-eaten mouse.

I like to think she’s trying to repay me for all those nights I spent chilling my buns with her – and her kittens – on my cold porch steps.

*Mama Cat’s three sons, two from the same litter, live indoors with us now. One of her daughters lives with a nice couple near the Delaware River, the other lives in Alberta with my sister and brother-in-law. Mama hasn’t been seen in a few years, but she will always be remembered as a good momma cat.

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Owned by three cats over age 13

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