In the interest of finally finishing all those responsibilities I've been putting off, I headed into Ithaca to trap Fast Food Ferals, as there are at least three "new" cats there -- or so I thought. As I drove in, the fuzzy tom cat, stepped out of a shelter and trotted away, which was surprising because he normally sticks around to watch me. Maybe he knew what was up. Hope's mom shot out of the same shelter, ran across the bridge, and watched me from the other side of the creek as I set a trap, baited it with tuna fish/dry food mix, covered it with a slit pillowcase, and retreated to my truck to watch.
She didn't disappoint me. 15 minutes later she was in the trap, in the back of my truck, and I was happily erasing feral kittens from my list of "unwanted things that could happen this spring if I don't get my butt in gear." I set a second trap and went back to my truck.
Fuzzy Tom did not appear, and it was starting to get dark and rain more heavily. Soon I wasn't going to be able to see the trap.
A black shape detached itself from the weeds and slunk slowly up to the trap. I had seen a black cat now and then across the creek. He or she always ran away when I arrived. I could never be sure if the cat were an old or new resident. Over the years, I've fixed at least six black cats there. This cat took forever to finally decide to go into the trap. At least...I thought the cat was in the trap. It was so dark, I was unsure if the door had fallen or not, and the last thing I wanted to do was scare the cat off if it were partway inside and the door was still open. Finally I was convinced that the trap was shaking (cat trying to get out) and I headed down to check the trap.
When I peered in, I saw my black cat. Only she wasn't black. She was torti.
It was Pichou!
Pichou was the cat who started it all. Back in 2001, when the fast food strip was still swarming with cats and kittens, a few cats, Pichou included, sported eartips. Someone was trying TNR. However, no one was feeding or sheltering the cats, and they continued to hang out forlornly in the bitter winter on the edges of dumpsters, etc. and kittens were still everywhere, because no one was attempting to catch all the cats. After learning who was responsible, and confirming there was no caretakers, I got my back and attitude up (as only I can!) and took the colony over. However, I was never able to catch Pichou for a booster rabies shot. She avoided the traps at every turn. For awhile, she almost became tame. When I was fixing the skirting on the old trailer (since removed) where she and Annie-the-gray-cat were living, she used to sit right behind me and watch me work. But one day she was suddenly shy again, and I often did not see her for months at a time.
Here she was, in my trap! I am thrilled. I'll take her off to the vet, have her teeth checked and get her shots, and I'll probably return her, since she's lived eight long years on the fast food strip and seems to have avoided the hazards of four-lane highways and parking lots.
Pichou was the fund-raising poster kitty for Alley Cat Allies during Hurricane Katrina. In the photo above she is genuinely perched over a flood, but a local one, not Katrina. If I can find the ACA announcement, I'll post it.
The other "new" cats will come to my farm to live as free-roaming barn cats, as I need to reduce the population on the fast food strip in case the abandoned lumber yard gets bulldozed. Only original cats will go back.
I'm afraid my camera is MIA, so no new photos until I track it down.