Feeling overwhelmed with so many random, homeless cats that might need human intervention, I went back to my rescuer's list and started calling. Once again, everyone was deeply empathetic and full of helpful advice, but totally inundated with "fall kitten season," and unable to help trap, spay, and neuter (TNR) the cats. (Note: In the northeastern climate where I reside, queens generally have two to three litters a year; fall kittens being the last group before winter sets in.)
The following day I headed out to the trail armed with more Fancy Feast. As I was returning to my car I met a woman walking her dog and struck-up a conversation about the cats. She said a woman named Donna managed a feral colony about a half mile away, and that she might know something about these 'unfixed strays.'
I went home and checked my rescuer's list. There was no 'Donna' on it. When I contacted the shelter they admitted to having Donna's phone number, but because she only managed one colony they had neglected to put her name on the list. A guestion kept running through my mind: exactly how many homeless cats and feral colonies were there?
I contacted Donna, and she agreed to meet me in the parking lot near where I had seen the cats. Her instructions were explicit: 'Go to Boston Chicken the night before and buy a quarter roaster. (The more nasty hormones the chicken has the better!) Just before you leave your house, debone, chop into penny size pieces, and nuke the chicken for 45 seconds on high. Place it in a plastic bag and wrap in foil. And don't forget to bring a paper plate cut into quarters.'
Was I about to meet my first crazy cat lady (CCL)?
I was waiting alongside my car when a Toyota SUV pulled into the lot. A stylish, petite woman hopped out. She was wearing a cashmere blazer, obviously designer jeans, multiple diamond- accented necklaces, and delicate looking ballet flats. Not exactly typical trail attire, I thought, as I continued to wait for my 'cat lady.'
"Hi, I'm Donna," the J. Crew ad said. My expression must have registered shock because she added, "I love to trap in Chanels. They always bring me good luck!" I looked down at my oversized, polyester 1X sweats and Wal-Mart sneakers. No make-up and greasy, pony-tailed hair, two weeks overdue for a color, completed my look.
"Let's nab this baby," she said, and set off into the bushes and weeds with her Tru-Catch and bag of nuked poultry. I watched in rubber kitchen gloves as Donna baited the back of the trap with a little paper plate triangle that she neatly arranged the chicken on. Using bare hands, she then squeezed drippings out of the remainder of the bag in a circle around the trap. I stuffed my rubber gloves back into my pocket.
Note: A Tru-Catch is light, small, and easier to maneuver than many other traps. It also makes a quiet 'snap' when it shuts which is less frightening for the cats. I have even seen young cats and kittens continue to eat their bait, unaware they have been caught.
Within five minutes, a hissing, snarling, male tabby was thrashing in the trap. In a flash, Donna pounced (yes, exactly like a cat!) and checked to be certain it was securely fastened. (One of these running around the back of a car would not be fun.) She then covered the tabby with a towel, and placed the trap in the back of her car. She explained that she would pick the cat up after neutering and release it in this same spot. Donna then instructed me that I should continue to provide food, water, and shelter every day for the rest of the cat's life--or mine--whichever came first. What???