A week ago I was in mourning. I thought I lost my beloved Little Poul. She was my first TNR (trap-neuter-return) who'm I've been feeding daily since 2016. She is not tame and I cannot touch her, but she is the TNR I have the closest relationship with. While most of my TNR's live as community cats in one big colony, Little Poul is on her own. She has her own little feeding station in form of a shelter
While the colony have food out 24/7 I feed Little Poul every night and leave enough food out for the night. We have our little meetings that I cherish very much. Some days we miss each other, but I got those days minimized by installing a cat doorbell. That way I could hear from my appartment, when she arrived by the shelter.
Lille Poul disappears
The first day she didn''t show up I wasn't worried. But on the third day of no Little Poul, I knew something was wrong. She has been gone for some days before, so that's not so strange. But the food was left untouched as well.
I put up the wildlife camera, hoping to catch her on film at least. But night after night it came back empty. I went out very night calling on her. After about a week I started looking for her during the day. I wasn't looking for a living Little Poul though, I was looking for her body. I looked by the side of the road and in the forrest. I looked under tarps to see if she may have died there. It was really hard looking for her and imagine her lying dead around every corner.
I really did try not to think too much about it these past weeks. Since I hadn't found her, there was still a chance she was alive. And it's true what they say; if you worry about something that hasn't happened yet, you are going to worry about it twice if it does. But everything around my house reminds me of her. I automaticly check the spots she sits and I have to go out to feed the community cats anyways. So she is just a part of my life here.
A place to remember
One night after having fed the community cats, I completly broke down. I just couldn't keep it together anymore. I really felt I had lost her and I would never find her. Though the walks were though, I really wanted to find her if she was dead. I've never had the need of memorial sites before. I never really got that need to visit graves. But I had a strong urge to get Little Poul back home. I didn't want her lying somewhere. At least she should be propper buried. I felt like having a place to visit, would really help me deal with the loss.
The wildlife camera delivers
Finally after missing for two weeks, Little Poul goes to her shelter at 5 in the morning! The wildlife camera caught a 30 sec video of her. Needles to say, the relief was huge.
By watching this short clip I realised why she hadn't touched the food I had left out in the woodden cart, she sometimes eats in. She was limping, so she probably couldn't even get up there.
Little Poul is a very cautious girl and I'm sure this is how she has survived so far (she's around 5 years old). She got hurt and she decided to stay away from the cart and the shelter as it is close to the neighbor's dog. This makes it high risk area. Little Poul couldn't jump to safety or run fast enough to escape the dog, so she kept a low profile till she felt better. This is my theory anyway.
I decided I had to get Little Poul to the vet and I set op the trap for her. But instead I caught a complete stranger. A big tomcat. I took him to the vet and he was healthy, but also very feral. I got him TNR'ed and set him back out. I named him Timmo.
Of course I wondered if Timmo had something to do with Little Poul's disappearance. This is not the fist time a strange cat starts roaming Little Poul's territory and it always changes her routines for a while. It could even be Timmo who caused the damage on Little Poul's leg? I was worried it could be a bite. Little Poul didn't show up on the wildlife camera or go into the trap for the next couple of days and I was worried about her health.
Little Poul Returns
One night I went out to feed the community cats. As I returned from the big feeding station I see Little Poul heading for the cart! I keep an eye on her leg and I see a slight limp. I would have never noticed if I didn't already suspect something was wrong with it. There was no wounds or damages to see on her, so I figured she probably wasn't bit. She wasn't more nervous around me than usual, but she was very aware of her surroundings. Maybe she was keeping an eye out for Timmo or the neighbor's dog? I still wanted to get her to the vet, but she dodged the trap another night.
The next day Little Poul seems even better. She is waiting in a tree for me, jumps down and runs to the cart, which she has no trouble getting into. She even meows at me like she used to. You can see the video here:
I decided to stop trying to catch her. It would be stressfull for her to go to the vet and she clearly just went through something. Back when she got TNR'ed, she stayed away for 14 days! Like I said, she is very catious. I don't want her to go without food for another two weeks after this. And she refuses to get in the trap anyway, so I'm going to focus on trapping some fertile cats instead
This time my big scare had a happy ending. But I still went through all the emotions of loosing her. I'm glad I waited to share her disapearance with you, so you didn't need to worry needless too. I was so scared one of you would ask about her, before I was ready with an answer. If you follow my stories on Instagram (and Facebook) you might have seen her there lately. I lost my Little Poul, but she came back from the dead <3