They were the best of kitties, they were the worst of kitties. Hahaha, no, that’s not true. They are good kitties.
This cat story starts almost 3 years ago, when we first got two barn cats, aka assassain kitties. Our yard was being taken over by ground squirrels and these two kitties were hired. Papi & Puppet have been awesome. They took their job seriously. Then, one year ago, Uni came into our lives and home and our assassin kitties only came home in the cover of darkness. Eventually Puppet stopped coming at all.
After 6 months of not seeing even a glimpse of Puppet, we started to consider getting another assassin kitty.
As luck would have it, a friend told me that a stray mama cat had recently given birth in their backyard. They waited for the kittens to get big enough and then called the local shelter to see about having them adopted. Unfortunately, they waited too long and the shelter said they are now considered feral and not adoptable (they are not cat people and didn’t know these things). However, they gave them kitty traps and once caught, they took them in to be fixed, ear clipped (marks them as fixed feral cats should they ever get caught again) and then released back on to their property.
One of the household members is severely allergic to cats. Even having the kittens romping and playing outside her window was sending her into an attack. So I told her if they caught one we would take it.
The next day we came home with Lou. We weren’t sure of gender, so we though Louie was perfect. Short of Louis or Louise, we’d figure that part out later. When one gets a barn/street cat, it’s important to kennel it on the property for several weeks, so it learns that there is food, shelter and safety at the location. The kennel we used for Papi & Puppet needs some cleaning and repair work, so we are using a large dog crate in the meantime.
We set up the dog crate, put in all the necessities and locked Lou up in the slammer. Around 11 pm I heard a familiar cat’s meow. In complete shock, I looked outside only to see Puppet. Alive, well and back in our yard. I guess we will be a 3 cat house now. Somewhere around 3 am I was woken by a different cat’s meow. It was much softer. Our new assassin kitty was singing the song of it’s people. I let Lou sing and fell back asleep.
When I got up the next day and looked in the crate, Lou was gone. Turns out there was a bar missing on one section of the crate, making a hole just big enough for a smol kitten to fit through. I was devastated. I looked around our yard, my son looked up and down the street… no kitty to be found.
I went to the local hardware store and picked up a live animal trap. Made for cats, opossum, and raccoons. The gal at the store happened to volunteer at a local cat rescue and told me to get Tuna in oil to help entice the kitten. We set the trap up in our front yard, I assumed Lou would not be tempted to come in our backyard because of the dogs. We caught nothing the first night. I moved the trap to a different location out front for the next night. Meanwhile, my friend messages me and tells me that they caught another grey kitty…did we want it? I said yes without hesitation.
This kitty, NotLou, looked just like Lou, only smaller. We repaired the hole in the crate, looked it over very carefully to make sure there was no escape routes and released NotLou into the crate. NotLou is not fond of the dogs, hissing and spitting at them if they look too long. Mostly I’m trying to keep the dogs away and trying to make NotLou feel safe.
We manage to keep NotLou safely in the crate for hours! Just before going to sleep, I looked outside because I heard a small cat meow. I assumed it was NotLou. However, it wasn’t. It was LOU!!! standing outside NotLou’s crate. YAY! (Except now we have 4 cats!!!!!). Lou won’t let us get close at all, but who cares, he’s alive and in our backyard!
We drift off to sleep, all is right with the world. Except it’s not. NotLou sings to Lou. Lou sings to NotLou. They both sing…for hours. By 4 am both Ben & I are exhausted and ready to send the kittens packing. Instead I give Ben my noise canceling headphones and I used some earbuds. We both get some much needed sleep, albeit not nearly enough.
Morning comes, the cat food I left out for Lou is gone (so is Lou), NotLou is in his bed, both food and water have been ingested. Now all is right with the world! Right? Right??? Nope.
I look out front and see that the trap has been sprung. The door is shut. I know we didn’t catch Lou, I’m praying it’s a neighborhood cat and not a wild creature. I move the towel covering the cage, see whitish fur and start talking to the white kitty I think is in the trap. Until I notice a very long, thick tail. We caught a opossum. I actually like opossum, I know that’s a bit of an unpopular opinion, but there it is. I lift the other side of the towel to see the face of the opossum and this is where it gets awful.
The opossum tried to chew it’s way out and in the process got his jaw stuck in between the wires of the cage. It was doing what opossums do…playing dead. Except I thought it was really dead. (They are so good at that!!!). I am freaking out a bit, at a loss as to what to do. I have to wake Evan for an early morning PT appointment, animal control isn’t open for two more hours and I have a dead opossum in my front yard. Both boys get out of bed to look at the opossum. Owen swears he sees it move. I tell him he’s crazy, I killed it with a trap that wasn’t supposed to kill. I’m getting worked up at this point… exhaustion and hysteria setting in nicely.
Warning: Graphic Image Below
We have to leave in 15 minutes when I, too, see the darn thing move. This is where I lost it. Completely lost it. This poor creature is stuck, scared, bleeding and trying to get free. I’m sobbing, Emma is comforting me, boys are getting dressed and gloved up to see what they can do. I am useless. They get intimidated once outside and couldn’t quite bring themselves to touch it. It’s back to playing dead. Owen gets close and looks carefully. He feels like it can get out, it just needs to turn the right way.
At this point I have to pull myself together and take Evan to PT. We leave the door propped open with a stick, and hope for the best. Animal control is still not open.
As soon as I get to PT I messaged my friend Deb. She lives across the country but has volunteered for a wildlife rehab for years and has a special place in her heart for opossums especially. I didn’t know what she could do or say, but I knew she was the best person for me to reach out to.
After talking and sending pictures (thankfully Owen was home and could take photos). She suggested that I see if there is a local wildlife rescue. This guy would probably need some medical attention. I find one in a nearby town, and that one directs me to one in my town. I call and leave a message, hoping someone can come out asap. However, before we were even half way home, Owen calls me. The opossum broke free. It was gone. I’m torn between relief and sadness. I hope that if it is injured it is minor. Owen assures me it is. He looked closely. Deb reassures me that they are very resilient and that it will be fine, that we did good. She thinks that this was a freak accident, she’s never seen a trap do that. I can tell you that I will never test that theory out! I am incredibly grateful for Deb, my boys, and for Emma and her gentle hugs and reassurances that everything was ok.
Back to the kittens. We now have Lou & NotLou (name TBD eventually). Before all the drama of the previous 15 hours ensued, I noticed something about Lou. Something important. I was already worried about how in the world we would tell these two kittens apart. Aside from size they are almost identical. Except one thing. Lou doesn’t have a clipped ear. Which means… Lou is not fixed!!! The cat that busted out of the slammer is feral and not fixed!! I don’t know how I’m going to catch the little bugger. Not with the trap I have that’s for sure. There are other designs out there, I need to see about getting a different trap. One thing is for sure though, we will have to move the crate away from out bedroom at night. I can’t do another night like last night again.
I still feel like I could collapse into a puddle of tears at any moment. So many what if’s and should I have’s. The sinus issues I was having all weekend come back with a vengeance, my head is hurting, my eyes are burning, I am exhausted and want to curl up and pretend today is over.
Unfortunately, adulting doesn’t allow for that, I have food to shop for, kids to transport, kittens to tend to & dogs to walk. As well as a variety of other tasks for the day. First on the list: Posting a barely used, almost new live animal trap on LetGo.