Friday, February 5, 2021

But Am I Lucky?

Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, is not one of my favourite personalities from history. But he was undoubtedly a leader of men, and he knew the qualities other men needed for leadership. He would often review army officers’ records himself when promotions were considered; once, when other members of the promotions board were extolling the virtues of one particular officer, Napoleon asked a pertinent question: “Is he lucky?”

Napoleon knew that some people are simply luckier than others. Like Gladstone Gander, in Donald Duck comic-books, some have good luck all the time; some have it once in a while, over a period of a day or a week; others possess it when doing certain things. I consider myself very lucky in my trapping-and-neutering operations, especially in the recent Operation Mini-Raffles.

I realised how lucky I’d been when trying to comfort a terrified Nocturne who was spending the night at my apartment to make sure of his recovery. (I was unsuccessful in reducing his terror.) I thought about my recent activities.

I caught Nocturne’s sister, tortoiseshell Sonata, the first of Bauble’s kittens, on a Monday. I sent a message to that effect to my contact in the group that facilitates the neutering and spaying. I was told that the veterinary would be able to take Sonata the next day. That was unusual: the doctor with whom we work is normally able to take one of my prisoners the same day. I learned later that he now is closed on Mondays, but works Sundays. (I find that strange, but perhaps he has tumbled to something that provides him with more custom; if so, more power to him.) In any case, it meant keeping Sonata another day. And, since I keep a newly fixed cat over-night and release it the next day (as in Nocturne’s case), Sonata would not be freed until Wednesday. In the meantime, the trapping continued.

Wednesday morning, I was surprised to trap another tortoiseshell, Sonata’s sister, whom I named Serenade. Later, seeing their photographs together, their difference was obvious: one was a light tortoiseshell, the other dark. But had I released Sonata on Tuesday, as I would normally have done, I would not have recognised Serenade as another cat; I had not thought there were two tortoiseshells in the litter. I therefore would have let Serenade go, thinking that I had caught Sonata again. Only the knowledge that Sonata was still caged in my apartment allowed me to see Serenade as a different cat, and prevented me from inadvertently letting an unsterilized female cat back into the colony.

Furthermore, I would never have known the source of all the kittens that would have indubitably resulted from such a mistake, since I would not have realised that there were two tortoiseshells; thus, the possibility that I had captured two and let one go unfixed would not have occurred to me. Even had I seen the two sisters together, I probably would have thought one was Fanta, a slightly older tortoiseshell caught and spayed last year. So I would have had no notion of who to catch to stop the multiplication of litters in the future.

It was the sheerest luck that the veterinary changed his schedule, disarranging my plans in a minor way - at the moment that they needed disarranging. I have been lucky in catching other cats, but these instances have been influenced also by circumstances, the process of elimination, and, as in Nocturne’s case, having a feeling about how he would behave in a situation stacked against him. Sonata and Serenade’s case was nothing but luck.

Of course, I still may have missed a kitten. I and my colleague who manages the community colony have not seen any other smallish cat, who might be a kitten. We had feared Bauble was pregnant when, in fact, she was, but have seen no other cat who could be expecting, and know of no other cat in the colony who is not fixed. Yet I could still have missed a kitten. However, I don’t think so. I think Mini-Raffles concludes a chapter in my trapping operations. I am under no illusions regarding the future. One new cat, straying into the neighbourhood, could initiate yet another long campaign of sterilization. But for now, I can rest.

So what would Napoleon think of my luck? Well, my luck isn’t so great in any other field that I would be promoted swiftly in the French Army. But I might be posted to look after the imperial clowder. If I were lucky.


  1. I think you, and all the cats trapped for neutering have been very lucky. I also think the "hand" of Fate, or the Universe, or of God if you prefer, might have had a bit of influence too. Sometimes everything does conspire to come together for the Highest Good of All Concerned!

  2. You may never conquer Europe, but conquering the local feral colony is no mean feat. Congratulations!

  3. I think Luck comes in small and large categories and are not connected. I myself am (usually) lucky in large (important) matters but amazingly unlucky at small things. I am the one untouched car in a pile-up or the one who doesn't get sick ever. But put me in a card or dice game. I can't get the likeliest roll or card and my opponent can get boxcars or draw to an inside straight. :(

    On the whole though, I'll take my large luck and suffer the bad cards in exchange!

  4. I agree with Kea. Lady Luck or fate was on your side and everything came together perfectly.

  5. I agree that you are indeed very lucky, but all of the cats that you've helped over time are even luckier. I've always believed that things work out for the best even though it might not appear that way at the time, and your vet's change of schedule may be an example of that. You've done terrific work with your ferals. God bless you, John!

  6. I especially like Kim's last sentence. Sometimes that DOES happen and it makes everything wonderful! I smiled at Napoleon the cat. If anyone ever read my profile on my own human blog...Katie's is different of course, they would know I am a Napoleon aficionado. A look in one of my bookcases would certainly be a hint.

  7. No! I must say..l am a fan of Napoleon..
    More so..since l saw Rod Steiger play him
    in the 1970 film Waterloo..!
    I have this thing about dictators..! :).

    And l was thinking John, you ought to
    change the name of your about,
    'The Cat Flat' not trap but flat..! Have
    you ever kept count of the pussy~cats going
    through your place..Hundreds?
    As a follower l'm tail there must
    be quite a few...! :).

    Ah! Well..C'est La Vie..! :o)

    1. There have been quite a few, but not hundreds; that's counting all the cats and kiittens I've caught and who've spent a night at my place. Many others have brought many more into their homes. Still, there've been more than my perma-cats have liked.

  8. Great effort on your part to trap and neuter. I would like to think
    Napoleon would have bestowed you with at least an honorable mention for
    this undertaking of clearing a path through the clowder. Do you have
    any idea how many ferals are in this group at the office?

  9. Well done John, whether it was luck or, as Kim put it fate, the operation was a success.

    Love the photo of Cammie! Take care, stay well!

  10. What a great way for the story to end!

  11. A saying is "It is better to be lucky than good." I would say at time that is true and in this case it is spot on. I myself was lucky with my last foray into TNR with catching Fanny, her beau Curly and her three kittens in only a long weekend. Luck was in the air and today Fanny still comes by for a snack which I am glad to provide as there is a foot of snow out there

    1. I remember how astonished I was when you were able to capture all of them so swiftly. You had luck all right - but you also knew your stuff. (We have plenty of snow this weekend, too.)

  12. Cammie, I think you captured the Napoleonic way of thinking and living actually, from all I know of you.

    1. That's why I put the hat on her, rather than anyone else.

  13. Just rolling with what the gods offer, is a talent!
    Call it luck, call it fate, call it coincidence...but take the gifts as they are presented.