I had to shed a tear of happiness on the day I caught Sally. I had been trying to catch her for 10 months and "the hunt" was finally over. Here's Sally's story.
I saw Sally for the first time at the end of May 2018. She was clearly pregnant and wobbled around with a huge belly. I was unsure what to do in this situation. Should I catch her and have the kittens removed or should I let her have her babies and have even more community cats to take care of, with the risk of them having kittens? Well it was decided for me, as I was hospitalized a few days later. I stayed at the hospital for 3 weeks that summer and when I came back home Sally had given birth already.
That summer I already had my hands full trying to TNR a bunch of cats in the area. So once Sally had kittens, I focused on trapping other fertile cats. I figured I would wait with her, till I was sure her kittens were big enough to take care of themselves. But then one night Sally walked into the trap. Once again giving me a huge dilemma. Should I let her go and risk more kittens being born or take her to the vet, risking the lives of the kittens she already had? I cursed her for having me make this decision. I let her back out and while I don't regret it, it sure cost me.
I was keeping a close eye on Sally and her belly. It was hard to tell if her tummy was still big from the first litter and from giving milk or if she got pregnant again. But at the end of that long summer, there was a lot of new cats in the colony and at least one litter was Sally's. I never saw her with any of the kittens, so I don't know which ones are hers. Bozzy seemed to be the babysitter of the group. Sally had no apparent interest in motherhood and prefered to come alone or with other adults.
As fall came around and the kittens were getting bigger, I was determined to get Sally to the vet. Sally was the only adult cat left to TNR at the time, so while there was a lot of youngsters to trap, she was my top priority. But it turned out a lot easier to trap the big kittens, than to get Sally.
It seemed Sally her learned her lesson after walking into the trap earlier that year. Even though she was only trapped for a short amount of time, she clearly had not forgotten about it. No amount of cat food would get her in the trap. But then I discovered a new trick: catnip! Turns out that Sally can't resist catnip, so I started using that as bait. It worked like a charm and Sally was suddenly rolling around in pure bliss inside the trap!
Unfortunately getting Sally into the trap wasn't enough. The weather had gotten more wet and cold and I was having dificulties getting the trap to acitvate. So she kept getting away from me because the trap failed.
As we reached 2019 I really started feeling the pressure. Mating season was close and soon Sally could be pregnant again. Late February it got warmer and male cats started to show up in the area. I was afraid that it was Sally signaling them to come for a date! Luckily I quickly caught the first male Timmo and then I caught Sally late March. The bait was a catnip pillow that she couldn't resist. I couldn't believe my luck when I saw her sit in the trap. Phew - that was last minute! In the video below you can see my very first recording of Sally, back when she was still pregnant and clips up to the day she went into the trap.
Sally's spa day
Most cats are very clean when they sit in the trap. But Sally had an accident right in the middle of the trap. I considered taking it out, but changed my mind last minute. I was afraid she would escape while I cleaned the trap. So of course she stepped in her mess as I drove her to the vet. The vet bathed her while she was sedated. She got blowdried and wrapped in a blanket so she wouldn't freeze when she woke up. Sally of course also got neutered, vaccinated and ear tattooed.
The vet estimated that Sally is around 4 years old and she is fine shape. She hadn't gotten pregnant yet and won't be ever again. She can fully enjoy her freedom now.
Sally was back at the feeding station a few days after she was released and she is looking good.