I really wanted to try and get three cats in (seeing as I've now got three traps -- four if you count the smaller "kitten trap" that came with one of the bigger ones) but the HS has a 2-cats-per-appointment limit right now except on special clinic days. I was surprised and somewhat disappointed to learn of that limit, though I can understand it from a resource standpoint. And I will definitely be on the lookout for the "special clinic days" where apparently you get to bring in more cats at one time.
On the major plus side, though, spay/neuter for feral cats is free this month (March 2011), so even though we're "only" going to manage to get four cats total done this week, that's at least $100 saved. The normal $25/cat fee is still pretty manageable as long as we work in increments, but still, kudos to the HSSV for offering the service for free even if for a limited time. It's this kind of thing that demonstrates and helps set a new example for shelters and animal-welfare organizations, in line with the realization that the goal should be fewer cats being turned over to shelters in the first place.
The cats we got last night were Blue (the
Matt's little niece and nephew have been calling the grey and white kitty "Tuxedo" (or "Tuxie"), but I really think he needs a better, less generic name. He's probably only about eight months old, but he's clearly got quite the personality already: he's brash, bold, and insufferably charismatic. He just has this sort of swagger to him, like he's just totally awesome and knows it.
As one of the "braver ferals", he was pretty easy to trap: I had him chasing a feather-wand toy, and with that I was able to entice him into Matt's parents' house, wherein I managed to corral him in the bathroom. He panicked a bit when he realized the door was closed, and proceeded to literally climb the wall, right up to the top of the medicine cabinet (which is mounted next to the window -- which, much to Tuxie's dismay, was closed). When he realized he wasn't getting out, he climbed back down the cabinet and onto a shelf. He sat there, all scrunched up on a folded towel, until Matt came in and picked him up in a blanket and sort of eased him into the trap.
I should note that this is NOT an orthodox trapping technique, and in general, it is NOT advisable to try and pick up unsocialized cats. I was actually really surprised Matt was able to do it...my idea had been to just put the trap in the bathroom, cover it with a blanket, and then wait for Tuxie to enter it on his own (which he most likely would have, given the trap would have been the most 'cave-like' space available).
But it worked out fine in the end, and we got to at least spare Tuxie the sudden BANG-SLAM of the trap door closing behind him (which, though cats seem to "get over", freaks them the heck out to the point that they often wet themselves). There is no way the "corral in bathroom then place in trap" technique is going to work for the warier colony kitties -- they're just going to have to deal with the BANG-SLAM -- but in Tuxie's case it made sense to do it the way we did.
Blue (whose name fits
Lo and behold, Blue came right up and sat watching me do all this. For whatever reason, the other cats (there were about 10 outside at that point) didn't bother coming over; apparently there was something more interesting to them on the other side of the yard. And once Blue smelled the sardines
The rest was uneventful: into the bathroom
Initially I had been thinking of putting the traps in the garage overnight, and that would still be an option if the need arose (due to managing appointments for more than two cats at once, etc.). Matt's parents' garage is a large, well-constructed building that has its own plumbing and everything, so while it's not heated, it definitely offers plenty of protection from the elements (and from any suburban predators, humans included). But the bathroom easily accommodated two cats, so there they stayed for the evening.
Then, this morning Matt's dad took the kitties to the clinic -- he generally gets up early anyway, so that worked out fine. He also picked them up this afternoon post-surgery, and they will remain in the house until the anaesthesia wears off (probably overnight at least).
So yeah. Overall, the first round went so smoothly that this whole project is looking a lot more doable. Hopefully tomorrow (Wednesday) goes just as well, because we get to do it again (albeit with different cats this time)! I am not sure which cats we'll try for, but I am hoping to get at least one of the less bold ones, and I imagine since we were able to trap last night's pair so quietly and unobtrusively the shy kitties won't have been startled away from any willingness to investigate the traps.
* As I've noted previously, Blue is more likely a "nervous stray" than a wild-born feral cat. However, given that
[UPDATE/EDIT: Blue turned out to be a boy, as noted in my next post with more supporting detail. I was pretty surprised by this but in any case it certainly suggests a re-interpretation of why so many other boy kitties were following him around...my guess now is that they were trying to challenge him to fight!]