Feral Update: Some Successes, Some Good News, and Some Mysteries Solved!

I’ve taken a lot of pictures of “my” feral cats since I started this crazy mission in December 2016.  Between images I’ve gotten from my classroom window with a telephoto lens, and images captured by the trail cam that my friend, Tonya, has generously allowed me to borrow, I’ve not only been able to learn the cats’ routines (such as they are), but I’ve also been able to better identify who’s who by their markings from a variety of angles.

A lot has been going on since I last posted about the ferals towards the end of February.  For starters, I became aware of a new cat–most likely a male, given its size–when he (?) showed up on the trail cam on the night of February 28th.

  

I’m not sure if it’s white or a very light orange, but it appears to be a solid color with no noticeable pattern in its coat.  (My co-worker spotted him in a tree one night when she was picking up the food bowl, and she said he was huge.  Her first thought was “white jaguar.” 😉 )

On March 2nd, White-Calico #2 showed up for breakfast.  She’s one of the “regulars” at the feeding station, and some mornings I’ve seen her waiting for me at a distance when I drive up to bring the food.

  

In addition to the cats, however, other critters show up, too.  Even if the food bowl has been picked up (which we try to do each evening, but can’t always do due to schedule conflicts), they can usually find something in one of the dumpsters.

  

On March 4th, a Saturday, I got another look at the large male with the injury behind his left ear.  I was very glad to see him eating, and I knew I would have to figure out a way to trap him as soon as possible….

  

Things were then completely quiet until later in the day when White-Calico #1 came for food.  I consider her another “regular,” and I’ve seen her at all times during the day.

The long-haired kitty with the poofy tail that I’d seen on the trail cam previously showed up a little after 6 pm on March 4th. I’ve never seen her in “real” time, but I guess her tail is just made this way!

Late that evening, the light-colored male (pretty darned sure it’s a male now) came to the feeding station.  I hadn’t seen him for several days, but of course I know that these cats have other food sources.  No idea where they are when I don’t see them…

With our school on Spring Break–and after the trash service emptied the dumpsters on Monday, March 6th–I knew that the cats who rely on the food from our dining hall would be getting hungry.  I set out the traps during the afternoon of March 8th–and I waited….

I was delighted to see the white and orange male, but he showed absolutely no interest in the food in the traps.  At one point, he had the audacity to lie down and bathe near the traps, and all I could do was watch in frustration!

But finally, finally around 6:15, he walked towards a trap and followed the trail of food to the trip plate.  TRAPPED!

  

Because it was so late in the day–and the SPCA was closed–I had to keep him confined over night.  He was SO scared and SO bewildered, but I shut him in a secure area, covered up the trap and wished him all the best….

The next morning, March 9th, I got him to the SPCA when they opened.  I told the intake crew that I was pretty sure he was Sienna’s father, and based on his markings, they said that was likely.

Remember Sienna, the cute little fuzzball I trapped in January?

  

She’s a proper young lady now, socialized, spayed, and recently adopted!  In other good news, I learned that all four kittens from the first trapping in December have been adopted, too.  This makes my heart happy. 🙂

After leaving the SPCA, I went back to school and set up the traps again, hoping to catch one of the other “new” kitties.  Sadly, I caught no one, and the only cat I saw the whole afternoon was the orange and white girl.  I was sure she was going to get herself trapped for a third time (sigh), but fortunately that didn’t happen. (I also came close to trapping a young ‘possum, but she ran up a tree when I drove around to pick up the traps after dark.)

Meanwhile, the male at the SPCA was neutered, his wounds were treated, and he was given an injectable antibiotic in addition to a rabies vaccination.  He weighed in at 12 pounds–quite a big boy, especially for a feral!  I didn’t pick him up until mid-morning on Friday, March 10th (due to having traps set up until dark the day before), and I talked to him during the whole drive back.  I recorded this short video when I released him:

After he bolted out of the trap, I watched him slowly make his way down the hill towards the woods.  He stopped to sniff several times (no doubt checking to see what had been going on since he’d been so rudely abducted…) and then he reached what must be his favorite fallen long, sharpened his claws, and streeettttccched.  As I’ve felt with each release, it’s not a safe world, but it’s their world; you do the best you can….

When I put food out for the cats on Saturday, March 11th, I set up the trail cam again, hoping to catch a glimpse of the big TNR boy, just to make sure he was doing okay.  While I didn’t see him, there were other surprises in store for me when I downloaded the pictures off the card on Sunday morning.

White-Calico #1 had visited.  No surprise there.

The orange and white girl had visited, too.  No surprise there, either, but my goodness this cat is so beautiful…..

Saturday night, the long-haired black kitty–trapped in mid January–stopped by.  So nice to see her!

Floofy-Tail also made an appearance just before 8 pm on Saturday evening.  I’m assuming this is a female, but I won’t know until I trap her.  (Or him….)

And then, early on Sunday morning, March 12th, THIS picture showed up on the camera!  Oh, wow–happy tears!  It’s the original “Mama-Cat” that I trapped back in December and hadn’t seen since releasing her!!  With her distinctive face markings, I knew it was Mama, and I confirmed it by comparing it with my other pictures of her.

  

At that point I made the connection… Remember the cat surrounded by raccoons in the feeding station?  It wasn’t a new cat–it was this cat!

  

As a final non-surprise, but something nice thing to see, White-Calico #2 was the last picture on the trail cam before I picked it up on Sunday morning.

What made this special was that all FIVE of my TNR girls were captured on the trail cam in one 24-hour period. 🙂

Obviously, there are still “known” cats to trap–these:

    

Due to too many things going on during this last week of my spring break (impending snow, vets at the SPCA out for a conference, dentist appointment, etc.) I’m not sure when I’ll have the opportunity to try to trap again.  For now, though, I am thankful to know that all of the kittens I’ve trapped have been adopted, and that all of the adult females I’ve trapped are still alive and well.  I am so very appreciative of and thankful for the use of this trail cam.  Thanks again, Tonya! <3

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