Firstly, let me write that little Eos - now re-named, due to some confusion, Fanta - is recuperating in the Cosy Apartment. She will be released later today. She has, to my surprise, eaten a little food, drank plenty of water and even dribbled a little in a small container of litter I have provided for her. She hates me, however, and makes no effort to hide her feelings. That’s all right; I expect defiance from a tiny tortoiseshell.
Secondly, I will explain the excitement surrounding the capture of Ambrose. It constituted one of the most suspenseful episodes of my life, which is rather sad since it involved a cat. But nonetheless…
I had determined to set my trap early last night, as Ambrose had found me unprepared previously by showing up about nine o’clock. I therefore set it about eight-thirty, aided by a pleasantly cool evening and gathering clouds, that kept the sun from heating the bait and attracting flies. The early evening gave us rain, which I knew would keep all cats under shelter. I enjoy a rainy day, but this time, I wanted it to cease. It did, thank goodness, soon after nine o’clock. Half an hour later, Ambrose appeared, and the fun began.
In the dimming light - due not only to the setting sun but to clouds which, after thinning subsequent to the rain, were thickening again - I saw a cat on the grass by the fence a dozen feet away. It was Sable, my friendly regular visitor to the food bowls. But then I observed, emerging from under the fence, Ambrose. He sat behind Sable; they obviously both wanted food. But if Sable were to eat the bait and trigger the trap, it would be a disaster: not only would I not get Ambrose this night, but I would likely never get him, after he witnessed another cat being seized by the trap.
Sable, however, has a sweet-tooth - well, a preference for hard-food. She ignored the food in the trap where it was lying on the parapet of my concrete ditch, and dropped down to eat from the hard-food bowl in its shelter by the door. I was grateful for this but was reminded that Ambrose too might pass up the more threatening soft-food for the safer hard. Sable, oddly, did not remain for long, for which I was also grateful. This left Ambrose to explore the food in the trap.
And explore it he did. He knew there was food there; he could smell it, he could see, he could almost taste it. But he distrusted the strange metal cage in which the food had been placed. He circled the trap slowly, numerous times. He dropped into the ditch and considered it from below. He pawed at it through the mesh of thin bars. I watched him discreetly the whole time. If I had been sitting on a chair, I would have been on its edge.
Then, he left. I was disappointed but not despairing. It was only about ten o’clock. I knew Ambrose was hungry, and thought he might be back. I re-charged the bowl with fresher food, and more of it. I waited. Sure enough, my quarry returned. He spent some time picking at the hard-food in the grass; I scatter it there to attract birds for my cats to watch. By this time, I had removed the hard-food bowl, so that my visitor wouldn’t be tempted to eat from it instead of the more tempting but possibly dangerous soft-food. Ambrose came back to the trap, circling it some more. Then, he squatted in front of the trap, staring at the food. For ten minutes. He eventually stood and trotted down to the far end of the apartment building.
I re-positioned the cage so that he would encounter it on his way back, as I knew he would exit the lawn by the way he had come. I would wait. I had time, right? Wrong. The clouds had built up, and lightning flashed in the west. The storm was coming back; it would be a thunderstorm this time, and I noted that Ambrose glanced up at the rumbling sounds. They would frighten him away, and soon, if the rain didn’t cause him to seek shelter sooner.
I decided to add to his temptation - literally. I took a handful of Temptation Treats and scattered them within the trap, concentrating a pile of them on the platform-trigger. Ambrose re-traced his route toward my apartment. He spent some time jumping, presumably on insects or the like, some of which he caught and ate. But they hardly sated his appetite, and he caught wind of the treats. By now, that wind had freshened, and it brought something to me: rain, on its way.
Ambrose found some of the treats that had fallen outside the bars of the trap, but he smelled many more inside. He worked his way around the oblong cage and, at last, inside. He didn’t trigger the trap, however, and I held my breath, in case I should panic him in the decisive moment. He crawled farther in to the trap - and the door closed.
I immediately called his owner, the young woman who had contacted the PAW Society about him in the first place. She and a friend hurried over. Immensely happy over the recovery - I had them identify Ambrose on the spot, just in case - they loaded the trap into their car. (I thought it much safer for him to be released in the security of his home, rather than venture a transfer where we were.) Ambrose’s hazardous adventure was over, and he would be with his family again. The rain started to fall heavily fifteen minutes later.
I have no pictures from the evening; it was too dark for photographs. But below are a couple of images from before Ambrose’s escape, showing how his life will be, once more.
I think I aged several years last night. But all is well that ends well, as the Bard wrote, and all was worth the effort. I hope Ambrose slept well last night; I suspect he did. I know I did.