Everyone who has done Trap, Neuter & Return (TNR) for a while has the stories of cats that played especially hard to get. HART, our #MonthlyMojo shelter for December, has plenty, but Patches was by far the toughest customer. She was born in a feral colony, and lived behind a large grocery store for approximately nine years. The dedicated caregivers who provided the cats with daily food and water asked HART to help with TNR, and one of HART's volunteers became a caregiver of the colony. They were successful in trapping all of the cats - except for a beautiful calico named Patches. She'd had multiple litters over the years, and although most were taken into rescue for socializing when they were young enough to grab, it was time to end the cycle. HART would do whatever it took to get Patches trapped and spayed. They came up with a plan to feed exclusively under a drop trap for several hours each night, hoping to get Patches to go under it. At the end of each night, all food was picked up until the next night, when they returned with the drop trap again. Security guards helped keep people from passing through and disrupting the process. People who worked in the stores and restaurants cooperated and wished them luck each night, but some were skeptical. They said HART would never get her, because many had tried and failed.
Each night they set up the drop trap, and placed a very large bowl underneath it filled with a variety of cat food, including rotisserie chicken, tuna, sardines, and mackerel. All of the cats came and ate, then came back later for seconds and thirds. Some lounged on top of the drop trap or camped out close by, waiting to go back for more. The volunteers watched Patches, as she watched them all come and go.
Each night she would get closer to the trap, but an employee throwing out trash or another loud noise would chase her away and she'd be gone for hours. The volunteers took shifts, bringing each other meals at the trap site. One was always there, manning the drop trap for several hours each night. On the 5th night she got close, and clearly wanted to go under, but she finally ran off into the night.
On the 6th night, they were confident that she was going to go into the trap for food that night. The volunteers set up, and Patches was one of the first to arrive. In a short time, Patches went under the drop trap! HART finally had her, safe and sound, and transferred her into a TruCatch trap for the spay/neuter clinic in the morning. They logged over 50 hours of trying to trap Patches that week! She received lots of food and TLC during her spay recovery time, and a few days later, she rejoined her colony. They all live peacefully, and there have been no more kittens since.