Let me begin by saying that I have NOT mastered this art. When it comes to trapping, I am a total klutz and I have made nearly every mistake in the book. I have inadvertently let a cat escape when I forgot to secure the back end of a "Have a Heart." I have missed opportunities when I did not set the tension plate correctly, and the cat ate and ran. Worst of all, I once let a cat go because I thought she had been ear tipped. Needless to say, I have not been able to re-catch this "Mama Cat." Three of her kittens--from two different litters--now reside in my house. Talk about guilt! This brings me to my ruminations for the day: How to catch Mama Cat.
Here's the problem: Mama is smart. In fact, she is the smartest cat I have ever dealt with. She lives in a busy residential/commercial area in large town near my home. Mama lives with her neutered soul mate, "Big Boy," and one neutered offspring, "Spicey," that was too feral to be adopted out. All reside in a crawl space underneath a psychiatrist's office and are fed by an elderly Italian lady who lives nearby. "Uncle Victor," a fourth cat and clan relative lives across the street. In spite of the fact that more than fifty cars utilize the parking lot that abuts the cat's eating and living vicinity, as soon as Mama spots my car, she runs for safety. For this reason, I have to alternate between my husband and daughter's car when attempting to trap Mama. I have also enlisted the help of an experienced trapper with a "drop trap." Mama can smell danger as fast as you can set the bait, and she will disappear for days at a time. The other exhausting feature of trying to trap Mama is that the lady who feeds them does so at 6AM. I am NOT a morning person. I have to be up and out the door by 5:30 to get to the feeding site ahead of the cats to set the trap, and no amount of my pleading has been able to alter the feeding schedule.
Three days ago, I placed a dummy trap (one without a door) near the psychiatrist's office. I am hoping and praying that I can get Mama used to eating from the blank trap, and then I will switch for the real thing. I suspect that Mama may be pregnant again, so fingers crossed that my scheme works soon!
If this does not work, then I will enlist the assistance of master trapper and cat whisperer "P." "P" runs a cat rescue and sanctuary in my county. She also operates a successful business, is model pretty, and has an Ivy League degree. She is married to a NY area cardiologist. I only mention the latter because "P" could spend her days and nights indulging in trips to the theater, parties, and other social gatherings. Instead, at least four nights a week, armed with various traps and wire clippers, she heads out in her well-worn van to do rescue and TNR work. "P" likes to trap alone and late at night--under cover of darkness. When the cats go on the prowl, she's out there with them. Sometimes this cat rescue involves clandestine work like crawling under barbed wire in restricted areas--hence, the wire clippers. Sometimes it involves digging kittens out of abandoned cars or buildings. It is not uncommon for "P" to trap three or four cats a night. "P" has mastered the "Zen" of trapping.