Two years ago - in August of 2018 - I began Operation Slim Pickens, my first attempt to trap and have neutered or spayed the cats in the colony behind my work-place. I was able to capture quite a few, the majority kittens but, importantly, several adults. In October, 2019, I launched Operation Doctor Moreau, to capture five older kittens who had appeared in the same location. In this endeavour, I was successful. Then just this past June, I opened Operation Raffles, intending to catch still more ferals. This effort too achieved results.
Through all of these attempts, over more than two years, after an endless series of mornings and evenings of traps set out and baited, the cat Bauble, possibly mother to many kittens, has eluded me. Irregularity and infrequency of appearances, wariness, fear of enclosure, knowledge of traps, all had given her a seeming immunity to my plans. That ended today.
It was a tense few minutes. I had evolved a plan using Temptation treats, and the fact that Bauble waited close by for her meals. I set two traps, each with treats on two dishes, one with a few treats half-way into the trap, and the other with more at the back, to draw Bauble in and onto the trigger. Then I sprinkled treats at the entrances. I tossed individual treats toward Bauble, so that they would land increasingly near the cages. Another difficulty, though, was that the other cats who gathered for breakfast were also interested in the treats. I had to throw treats behind those beasts to pull them away from the cage. If one of them triggered the trap, it would not only catch the wrong cat but probably scare Bauble away for good.
But, for once, all worked as it should have. Bauble came closer to the trap, then entered deeper into it. There was a possibility that the trap’s trigger would not collapse under her and shut the door; that had happened before. The chain connecting the trigger-platform to the door sometimes sticks. I watched the whole drama from just yards away. I don’t think I breathed the entire time.
Bauble’s surgery has already been arranged; it will take place at mid-day. She will then stay over night at my apartment, and then be released tomorrow. There is a chance that she has had kittens recently; if so, I don’t want to keep her away from them for too long. If there are youngsters, they will be old enough to survive without their mother; their capture will likely not be an ordeal (at least not for me).
But, as far as I can determine, there are no more cats in the colony who need to be fixed, certainly no adults whom I have seen. With Bauble’s capture, at long last, I can close down Operation Raffles. I can relax. For now.