Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cat wrangling, Part II

My descent into crazy cat lady-ness continues, and I’ve drug the Farmer along with me.

If you tuned in for yesterday’s episode, you’re familiar with my epic fail in the attempt to capture Wild and take her to the vet to be spayed. Instead, I took the big gray tomcat, Bonus, who fortunately for me (and unfortunately for him) was totally fine with being picked up and put in a dog crate.

I spent yesterday afternoon contemplating how, exactly, I was going to catch Wild, since I’d pretty much established myself as Public Enemy Number One in her eyes. My failed “scoop up the cat quick and put her in a crate before she knows what’s happening” attempt had probably dissolved six months of trying to earn her trust. As far as she was concerned, I was extremely unstable.

The feline biological clock was ticking. Cat “breeding season” in these parts begins in February, with the first spring litters on the ground in March, give or take a little due to the weather - warm weather creates lusty cats. I didn’t have another six months to coax Wild into even the slightest pseudo friendship so I could attempt another capture. Even with Bonus out of the picture as a kitty baby daddy, I was sure our township was not lacking in other wandering tomcats looking for a good time.

The Farmer has  a live trap that he uses for capturing critters who end up in the wrong place on our farm - mostly raccoons. They are quickly dispatched with the .22 because doing catch-and-release with raccoons in the country is laughable (from the raccoon’s point of view). For every raccoon you relocate, there are three more willing to move into the barn, machine shed or silo. Don’t laugh. The Farmer has flipped the gears to fill the feeder wagon with silage and had raccoons come flying out of the silage chute. A raccoon fell out of the rafters in the machine shed and broke the outside window off my van. We wage a constant battle with raccoons. Disney-esque raccoons are cute little masked bandits. Iowa raccoons tear things up, crap everywhere (seriously, everywhere) and carry diseases.

Occasionally, we catch a skunk in the trap. No. Wait. I am not using the royal “we” this time. The Farmer occasionally catches a skunk. I had nothing to do with it.

No one in their right mind would deliberately trap a skunk. We’ve had several accidental skunk-trappings over the years (and one that was on purpose when a skunk decided to make a den near the house this summer). Accidental or deliberate, it raises an entirely new problem - get close enough to open the trap door and set the skunk free and risk getting sprayed by a frightened skunk or shoot the skunk in the trap and be guaranteed of an explosion of stink. It never ends well for any of the parties involved.

I decided the live trap was probably the best chance of catching Wild. Of course, we have five other cats and I figured Murphy’s Law being what it is, I would repeatedly catch Winnie, Bonus, Siren, Weezel and Gryphon while Wild sat on a hay bale and licked her paws and laughed.

I texted the Farmer with my request: please put live trap in garage.

I had formulated another careful plan that involved putting the trap near where I usually feed the cats, putting food in the trap and letting Wild go in and out without the trap being set, then after a couple of days of becoming accustomed to it, actually setting it. Even a set and baited trap is no guarantee of catching the critter that springs it. Raccoons have proven this ad nauseum. With a little luck, I might be able to catch and deliver her to the vet in a couple of weeks.

The Farmer replied to my text with his usual speed. That is to say, he didn’t reply. I figured he was at another farm or too busy to concern himself with cats.

Four hours later, I got a text back: Caught your cat.

I considered this for a minute. Not only had he put the trap in the garage, he’d baited it, set it and managed to catch Wild? In a matter of hours? Incredible.

Then I called him to confirm exactly which cat he’d caught. With my luck, we’d had one of our not uncommon failures in communication and he thought I wanted to catch one of the other cats. Which could be accomplished by walking out the back door and tripping over them.

But yes, he had caught Wild. I confirmed this by asking a series of very specific questions, just to make sure. Was it the yellow cat? It’s the yellow cat, right? That yellow one?

These were all affirmative. What did I want him to do with her?

Could he take her over to the vet clinic?

Negatory, too busy to mess with cats today. Should he let her go?

I may have had a brief moment of screeching incoherence: HOLYCRAPHELLNODON’TLETHERGOI’LLNEVERCATCHHERAGAIN!”

And so it was decided he would leave the live trap, containing Wild, in the garage. I would call the vet to confirm they could fit her into their schedule to be spayed the next day. Then I would come home, pick her up and deliver her to the vet.

He did and I did and they could so I did.

I got home, popped the hatch on R2, chucked out my lawn chair, Phoenix’s tent crate, a couple of crate pads, a blanket, two sets of scent articles and the water jug I forgot to take back in the house after going to train last week, and set Wild in the back. If I thought she was angry this morning, it was only a shadow of her mood now. For exactly half a second I considered trying to transfer her to a dog crate, then came to my senses. I may be crazy but I’m not stupid. I’d warned the vet’s office about the temperament of this creature - angry, wild, scared demon spawn. They assured me they could handle it. I have great faith in them.

We were about halfway to the clinic when I noticed the interior of my van was starting to smell like a previous resident of the trap. The scent of eau de skunk gained strength as we drove. I may have been the only person in Iowa driving with her windows down on a balmy January day when the mercury had risen to a whole 8 degrees. Please refer to the crazy/not stupid comment above.

I had to take Bonus home from the vet’s in order to free up cage space. Apparently there were no vacancies at the veterinary motel. Bonus was retrieved and put in the small Vari-Kennel I’d brought him to the office in. He looked stoned. Good  kitty. It would be a peaceable trip home. I thanked the staff and apologized again for bringing them a wild cat in a stinky cage. In the grand scheme of things, this is probably not the worse thing they’ve ever had to deal with.

I took off for home in the skunk-stink-mobile, with Bonus ensconced in the back. We hadn’t been on the road for long when I caught a whiff of some new odor rising above the residual skunk stink. Tomcat urine. I drove faster.

When I got home, I carried Bonus down to the basement. He’d earned a night in the house, albeit in a crate. I wasn’t optimistic about his discretion in using a litter box if left to his own devices. Turned out he was just fine and the critter who had the biggest problem was Phoenix, who went back to his OCD “There is a cat in the basement and I must stare at the door because maybe I can make the cat teleport into the kitchen” behavior.

Today is day five of the cat saga. It started on Sunday, when I brought the Adorables inside because of excruciating and dangerous windchills. Tomorrow, I will pick Wild up from the vet. She will stay in the basement over the weekend, to give her a few days in a clean and warm environment to heal. I have no clue how I’ll get her from the small carrier into a bigger crate. Hopefully we’ll have a special bonding moment. Hopefully it won’t resemble the special bonding moment that started all of this.

In the  meantime, I still have the windows cracked on R2 and Febreeze is on my shopping list.


  1. God, I actually laughed out loud at this! Especially the Farmer's "Caught your cat".

  2. Hilarious, you could write a book!

  3. Place the small crate in the large one, leave door open, supply food, water, and litter.

  4. I feel that the need to take Bonus home had less to do with their lack of space and more to do with them not wanting to smell Tomcat urine! :) And I second the statement that you should totally write a book. Heck, just put all your blogs together!