In early January, a cat named Buddy escaped from his foster group during a routine transport. He was spotted on the Northside in the Allegheny West neighborhood.
In early February, two lesbians also on the Northside got married. One of their wedding registries was primarily cat rescue gear – traps, crates, nets, gloves, food, and trail cameras. The bride’s college roommate sent a trail camera because she thought it was hilarious.
In mid-February, the camera was set up at the wives’ feral colony. One of the brides quickly noticed something – she saw Buddy eating from the feeding station. That was Laura, not me. But we quickly poured through all of the photos to confirm and send evidence to Buddy’s humans.
I met one of the rescuers the next day who gave me suggestions on how to trap him. We pulled up all the food to make him hungry. We got nearby feeders to do the same. When it became evident Buddy was not coming back around, the rescuer used her trap to nab one of my ferals, Pretty Girl. That’s efficiency.
I took Pretty home and then to the vet Friday morning.
That afternoon, I arrived at the colony and quickly set up my four traps. It was cold, so I scurried back to my car to wait. Just minutes later, here comes a cat I thought was Buddy.
It was Buddy!
He took the bait and walked into the trap. Then he flipped out as I ran over with a blanket. That’s when I realized 15 lb Buddy had broken part of my trap. I was not letting him escape again so I quickly wrapped the entire trap in the blanket, tying off the ends like tootsie roll wrappers.
So I had to get McThrashy to my car without any tools except ingenuity, a blanket, and pluck. I couldn’t safely carry him in my arms. I couldn’t use the handle and let up pressure on the door. No one was around to help me.
So I dragged him, foot by foot, in the blanket to my car. He did not love that, but we made it and I used my last bit of energy to hoist him and me into the rear of the car.
I dug out my zip ties and wove at least 20 onto the traps weak spots. Buddy stopped growling and just watched me before turning around to finish eating the bait.
My fingers were numb when I finished, but finally he was secure. I tucked the blanket securely around him and crawled to the driver’s seat.
His people were scheduled to arrive at 5. It was 1:30.
So we continued to monitor the other traps. We went to the gas station. We listened to a podcast episode from ‘The History Chicks’…
At 6 PM, I gave in and dropped Buddy at another cat lady house who has a heated garage. I was starving, freezing, achey, and exhausted.
It was an anticlimactic ending, but a happy one. Buddy is now in his new home with my mangled trap and lucky blanket. I thawed out, ate hot food, and went to bed early.
On Friday, I went to pick up Pretty Girl after she was successfully spayed and vaccinated. She was 18 months, so not eligible for placement.
Literally, 15 minutes before I was planning to release her – a foster stepped forward offering to keep her at least until the cold snap ended.
She wasn’t home yet, so I drove around for another hour or so until Pretty Girl was transferred and set up in her new temporary home.
I came home and learned my wife had made me soup. Then I crawled upstairs for bed.
I called my friend BJ to tell her the story. Every other sentence was “Did you get THAT on camera?” as she reveled in her long-distance cat lady complicity and howled at the vivid descriptions of my struggles. I’m not sure BJ understand the constraints of one field camera strapped to a solid object in a field. Good thing she’s a nurse.
The moral of the story – while pots, pans, Fiestaware, and juice glasses might help us set up our next phase of home, none of it will likely save a lost cat.
Our cat lady registry can be found here if you’d like to help us with future cats. Or just send us a present to celebrate our marriage. Our reception is tentatively set for summer 2022 but we reserve the right to postpone until Dr. Fauci gives the all-clear.
Feral cat caretaker food drive
I knew that trail cam was a good ask!
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