It's Sunday and that means Trapping Day! The TCAP in Fort Worth (my favorite location) only guarantees feral surgeries on Mondays and Thursdays, so I like to get a start on Sunday to have some to bring in on Monday. I typically only trap one round a week because I have to keep them for a few days during their recovery. I'm working on getting the resources to have multiple rounds coming and going, but I'm not quite there yet.
Last Sunday I was able to trap Lavender: look how pretty!
I've come to learn that Lavender, along with his buddies Clover, Honeysuckle, Peanut, and Fern are a little subgroup of the colony. They hang around one house primarily and are very sweet to each other. By having a camera that records video I have learned so much about their relationships and habits, it's so interesting!
So Lavender was the last of this little group to be trapped, vaccinated, and neutered. But after his trip to TCAP, he didn't come back to my house like they usually do. This brings us to my big announcement.
My feral trapping project has been chosen by a group of Girl Scout Cadets as their Silver Badge service project!
This group of 14 year old girls are making blankets, gathering towels, doing a cat food drive, and all other sorts of things to help me TNR as many cats as I can. It's been so amazing to have this kind of support and it's given me a lot of momentum! It's so wonderful to know that other people, especially teenagers, care about these often maligned creatures.
So as part of their project, they got to look after Lavender after his neuter. I think they enjoyed being able to monitor him and interact with him. The family in charge of his care are a group experienced with cats, and have taken in a feral in the past so I was very happy to trust them with this handsome boy. Then we all met up for his release and I got to show them all around the pond and introduce them to some neighbors. I'll hopefully get some pictures of the girls at work to post here.
In the wake of all this support, I thought I finally needed to add some order to my end of the project and yesterday turned my garage into a TNR center!
I have some food bins as well on the other side. As I said to the girls last week, this kind of work is a bottomless pit. There will always be more feral cats that need TNR, food, and medical care. The only limit is my time, energy, and resources. So I am very very excited about this collaboration with the Cadets as it has given me a huge boost of energy for this and they will be contributing a lot of resources as well! I will be able to help so many more cats directly because of their support.
So for today's Sunday trapping, my goal is to finally catch this big male.
Elm is by far our scariest looking feral cat. He has a scar above his left eye, and I am told he had a bite wound on his shoulder not too long ago. I will have TCAP check both of these out, but my biggest concern with him is his tail. I'm pretty sure it's broken about halfway down. When I take him in for his neuter and vaccinations I'll ask TCAP to give me an idea what might need to be done about it, but they are not a full service vet so I don't think they can actually fix it. I am not a vet, but I believe in most broken tail cases they either heal on their own or need to be amputated. I've been contacting several feline rescues and feral coalitions for their advice, as an amputation at an ordinary vet will be much too expensive. Hopefully a solution will present itself when I have more information.
Now I have tried to trap Elm many times. He's very smart. All the big, scarred, older males are. Their survival instincts are very strong and they just don't go in regular traps. So tonight I'm trying a drop trap for the first time! I set it up and practiced yesterday.
I'm really hoping it works tonight because I'd love to be able to care for this guy and get a look at him up close. He has the reputation around the pond similar to a hardened criminal. My sweet cuddly ferals give him a wide berth, and he is not as welcome at some doorsteps as the others are. He gets in fights and I'm sure he is responsible for a lot of kittens. A true alley cat, he is a loner, and honestly is kind of scary looking. I would love to be able to neuter him and decrease the aggression in his nature, and rid him of the restless energy he has. Also, according to stories I've heard, he probably has spent much of his life in pain and injured, and how wonderful would it be to rid him of that.
Wish me luck with the drop trap tonight!