As I was leaving work Wednesday at lunchtime I turned on the engine of my truck and suddenly saw a very small black blur hightailing it across the parking lot and heading for the hills. Being one of those crazy cat ladies, I immediately recognized it not only as (a) a small black kitten but also (b) a feral kitten from a mother I’ve been feeding. The little booger had been underneath my truck since early that morning riding all the way from the house, sitting through about five hours in the parking lot and then, when I turned on the key, he bolted. That’s always upsetting; it’s happened before but it’s still always upsetting. The question was what to do next.
I figured was a lost cause for that day but I a listened and I even went back later in the afternoon to see if he had shown up again. I heard nothing so I thought that the kitten was toast. There too many predators and too many raptors around. The next morning I went to work early and walked around, listening for a sound, but I heard nothing. My head said there was no nope for that kitten but my heart hurt for the little guy too little to be out in the big, scary world all alone.
Friday morning not I heard the very loud, hurt and confused cries of a very small cat, but where was it coming from? Throughout the day I went out periodically check to see if I could see him, but he was somewhere in the neighborhood of the dumpsters which also happened to be the home of a rather dilapidated golf cart belonging to the owner. That kitten was somewhere but I couldn’t find him. I left some human tuna and a container of water near where the noise was coming from. After work I decided that okay, I was going to try Plan B.
I went home, got his mama, put her in a cage and took her to the office. My friend met me there with some additional foodstuffs (which I had forgotten to take with me) and we put some plastic pallet covers around the end of the exposed edges of the golf cart so that there was an enclosed area. Then we opened the cage and let mama out. Mama took a seat underneath the golf cart and meowed twice, having heard the cries of distress. She meowed twice and that was that. I managed to sneak a peek and the kitten was very happily nuzzled up against her, making up for having missed breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the last two days.
My first mistake was trying to slide a piece of cardboard underneath them to make it easier to retrieve them, or so I thought. Well, that discombobulated them and the kitten went back up to where he had been hiding under the golf cart. My friend came we attempted to locate and catch the kitten. One of us evidently had gotten too close to where he was and had run out from underneath only to get entangled in the plastic. Success! We got him in a cage.
Then we thought, well, it shouldn’t be too hard to get mama now as she was fairly tame. We stood the cage on end and opened the door just so we can have an opening case mama came out and we could grab her and put her in. We didn’t count on the determination of a very small kitten who wanted OUT. NOW.
Needless to say, he escaped, so rather than chase him, we went back to trying to retrieve Mama, but when we looked underneath --no Mama. She had taken a powder. My friend located her outside the fence and actually followed her until she darted under a gate and ran under the friend’s car. Trying to be helpful, I tried to encourage her to go back to her kitten but she was having nothing to do with that idea. I didn’t realize that she could flatten herself enough to get through the holes of the block wall but she did. And off she went. Rescue plan C was a failure so we left some food and decided to come back Saturday morning and try again.
Saturday morning I was up at a 2:45am, worried about the kitten. Glomming onto the idea that my faithful Internet could help me, I googled humane traps and actually found that my local big-box hardware store had them in stock. At 4am I ordered a one to be held for me to pick up. I ran down to the store when it opened at 6am and found several people were interested in the fact that somebody actually was up and ordering something at 4 o’clock in the morning. Thank God for early opening hours.
I went down to the office got the traps baited with some food and water and covered it with an old sheet. My friend and I decided that we would let nature (and God) take over so off we went for our morning’s adventures. I checked back on the cage on my way home and found that some of the food had been eaten but the trap had not been triggered. Interesting. I re- baited the trap, checked to make sure that the trigger mechanism was in place and went home for a few hours. I came back about 5:30 pm and found it had not been touched. I was beginning to feel like plan C was not going to go well either but I decided to wait overnight just to see.
This morning being Sunday, I had planned to go to the grocery store before getting ready for church but I decided to swing by the office just on the off chance that the trap would work. If all went perfectly there would be two cats inside--a mama and a very small black kitten. By this time the cat had acquired the named Hagar and the kitten became Ishmael. The illusion was rather apt, I thought.
Arriving at the office I heard nothing, no meows no cries of distress or anything else. Oh, dear, I thought. Imagine my surprise when I looked over the railing down into the dumpster area and observed that the cat flap on the cage was now down and the sheet was covering the entire trap. Something had gone in and was still there. With almost a sense of dread I lifted the edge and saw two grayish-green eyes, some rather battered looking whiskers and the face of Hagar. She made no sound but she had eaten all the food. She made no noise whatsoever as I picked up the cage and walked to the truck. She meowed only once when I tried to fit the cage into the truck and once again as I was driving home telling her how glad I was to see her and how happy her kittens were going to be when they saw her, neglecting to mention Ishmael who’d been left behind. It was a quite different scenario than the first car trip on Friday where she registered her fear and discomfort in no uncertain terms.
I probably didn’t do it quite the way you should, but when I took the cage and put it on the ground, I could hear one of her kittens meowing. This was something she would want to investigate, I was sure, so I opened the door and off she ran. I looked up and watched as a little kitten came towards her and, lo and behold they met and off they went. Where the second of her stay-at-home kittens was, I don’t know, but at least one baby kitten had Mama back for Mother’s Day. She meowed for hours, probably looking for Ishmael, possibly searching for the third kitten, trying to get her bearings. After several hours I saw her nursing the remaining kitten and when I served dinner to the outdoor cats, she came and rubbed against my leg, allowing me to pet her and tell her what a lovely girl she was. Hagar is still a bit skittish, but she is home.
It’s an odd sort of Mother’s Day story. There may be one kitten that I’ve condemned to death by taking away his mama and her milk, but I’d given her back to at least one other. It doesn’t make it any easier for me, and maybe it doesn’t for her because no matter how many times she counts she only comes up with one and not three. Still, Hagar’s home, a kitten is with her and things will settle down sooner or later God willing.
Tomorrow, the search for Ishmael begins again.