Another Day, Another Trapped Feral Cat #PghCatLadies

We’ve been trying to trap Jennie Jane, the mother of our #kittencaboodle for months. She’s incredibly wily and trap savvy – constantly pulling food out the side and always avoiding the actual trap snap. So the folx at Homeless Cat Management Team hooked us up with Karen Sable who is a guru among drop trap users.

Drop trap ready to go
Drop trap ready to go

The drop trap works like it sounds – it is propped up on one side so the cat goes underneath to get to the food and then the trapped pulls the string, removing the collapsible legs and the cat is undernear the trap. Then the trapper hurries out, covers the trap to calm the cat(s), and uses a transfer cage to get the cat from the drop trap to a regular trap. And it really works.

If you can chip in to help with Jennie Jane’s vet bills and the bills for her two companions to be trapped soon, we’d very much appreciate your help. 

On Friday and Saturday, we saw Jennie Jane and her cohorts, Mx Pajamas and Oxsana, many times during the day even in that heat. So we kept them near wit plenty of yummy food and cool water. And we had a nanny cam watching their feeding spot around the clock.

Sunday, we left the food bowls out but without food. Water was provided. The nanny cam showed us that all three came several times during the day to inspect the bowls. We had to take the kittens for a vet check appointment in Tarentum (everyone is great) so we arrived home around 4 PM and found Jennie here once again. That’s when Karen decided to head over and set up since she was obviously hungry.

To prepare, we had to move all of our cats into our bedroom. Karen needed to have the back

Jennie under the green chair making her final approach

door open to hide and pull the cord so we didn’t want any escapees. Ana is super whiny and clingy since her diagnosis so we had to keep her in the living room behind a baby gate and take turns sitting with her.

Karen sat just inside the kitchen door and regaled us with her war stories as a cat rescuer, animal emergency responder, and general interesting life tales. She explained how the trapping worked and when it didn’t. She was quite confident based on our descriptions and the video we had shared with her. Laura and I were nervous wrecks.

Karen was set up by 6:15. We saw Jennie briefly, then nothing for awhile. Then both Mx. Pajamas and Oxsana showed up. They are like advance scouts for her. Sure enough she was on the deck under a chair, watching and sniffing. She inched her way forward a few times and then finally made a dash for the upper deck. We all held our breath and then – bam, she was trapped around 9:10 PM.


Karen then got her into the transfer crate (it is a ‘way out’ for them) and then JJ got to rest a bit before a final transfer to a large crate. After the initial frenzy, JJ didn’t make a peep or a hiss or a growl. She just settled down to await her fate.

Feral Cat Pittsburgh
Jennie right after being transferred to the regular crate and before being secured for the night.

She spent the night in our kitchen. We forced everyone else to stay in our bedroom with a litter box and water. Fortunately for us someone decided to have diarrhea and someone else vomited so it was a fun, fun night.

The big unknown here was Jennie Jane’s pregnancy. We knew she was pregnant and Karen estimated she was pretty far along so time was of the essence. We needed to terminate this pregnancy to prevent thousands of more cats from being born. Once she was trapped, we held our breath that she would not go into labor overnight. Laura and I had agreed that if this happened, we would foster the kittens and we had about 17 alternative plans, none of which were great, for housing everyone. I put the nanny cam on her and Laura check her during the night. She was fine. No peeps. She did pull the cover into the crate a bit, I guess to comfort herself?

If you are tempted to lecture me or get emotional about the aborted feline fetuses, please first detail how many cats you have taken into your home and how much money you invest in cat welfare programs personally. It is impossible to keep up with the reproduction rate of cats that are not being altered by their humans. A female cat can have 3 litters per year, averaging 4 kittens per litter or 12 kittens per year. That’s 100 or so kittens in her lifetime and each of them will create new kittens, too, males more than females. The best way to reduce terminated pregnancies is to increase spaying and neutering. I invite you to join us in working toward that goal, but not to judging the hard decisions cat ladies everywhere have to make all of the time. Just don’t go there

We took Jennie Jane to the Spay & Neuter Clinic, arriving at 6:50 AM. No kittens so she was good to go. The clinic charges $25 to perform a spay on ferals. We also arranged for her to be tested, vaccinated, dewormed, treated for fleas, and microchipped. It was close to $190 for everything, assuming nothing unexpected happens between now and 4 PM when we retrieve her.

So what is next? There is no room at the Inn of any rescue, foster, or shelter for an adult homeless cat. We don’t have any friends willing to foster or adopt her or the other adults in need of homes. So we will let her recover in our basement for a few days in the crate. And then most likely, she will be released back outside to live her life and not breed again.

If she turns out to be sociable, we face a dilemna. We don’t have any available rooms except our bedroom and the basement. Either way, she has to live in a crate. Either way, our existing household pets suffer losing some of their space. We can’t integrate our two upstairs girls into the main house yet. And the kittens are not yet ready either (nor is the house anywhere near kittenproofed.)

If you have a spare room where Jennie can be housed, please let me know.

Releasing has its drawbacks of course

[A]bout half the cats in neuter/return programs die or disappear within a year,  about the same first-year mortality rate as was observed in 1992.

Of the remainder,  76% survive from two to six years,  about half again more than did before the advent of neuter/return;  17% survive from six to 10 years;  and 3.4% live for 10 years or longer,  about triple the rate of pre-TNR survival to relative old age.

But not releasing means inevitably other cats will move into our space thanks to the vacuum effect. That’s why this is never just about one cat. If we have a stable, altered colony it is good for the whole neighborhood. They will not roam, spray, get into garbage cans, etc. Down our block less than 5 houses is a series of abandoned properties with a ton more cats. I’m surprised they don’t come up here and maybe they will.

What’s next for us is to trap Mx. Pajamas and Oxsana to take trips for a vet check-up. Both are ear tipped so they’ve been altered. Several local vets will see feral cats for treatment. We want them both to get their vaccines updates, get chipped, etc. Mx. Pajamas has a cut on his ear and Oxsana has a lump in his neck that need a little attention.

We also have the stray tom, we call Konstantin who probably sired the #kittencaboodle. We want to trap him and get him neutered ASAP.

Meanwhile, here at home we have to continue socializing the kittens, get them scheduled for spay and neutering, and look for adoptive homes.

Also, our dog Aga has to have surgery very soon for a mass on her tail near her anus. It is expected to go well, but could be as the vet put it ‘a bit bloody’ to deal with the wound care. Great. But we are doing that in the next two weeks. We are also expediting socialization with the upstairs girls because the sooner we can move them to the main part of the house, the sooner we can free up that room.

Because we know there will be more cats. We are by no means experts, but we have enough experience and enough resources to do our best to offer more foster home slots. There’s always someone who needs a bystation for a few nights, much less kittens always in need of a home. We are going to get a very large cat play crate to install in that room so we can still use the room for our needs, but also help some cats.

More is coming. We are talking about organizing a LGBTQ spay and neuter clinic during Pride month to encourage more LGBTQ folks to take advantage of these opportunities.

Stay tuned. And enjoy the video. It has a nice “HURRAH” feeling …

If you can help us with the vet expenses for the adult ferals that are not tied to any foster group and with the purchase of additional supplies for rescue/fostering, we’d really appreciate your support.


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