I have learned quite a bit the last couple of weeks about rescuing a cat -- something I've always talked about doing but had never actually done. It all started two weeks ago. Allan and I had just pulled up in front of the house with a backseat full of groceries when we saw a little brown tabby cat running frantically up the street.
I hopped out of the car and said, "hey" to the little guy or gal, not really expecting anything.
The cat stopped and stared, ran to the middle of the street, and looked up at me while meowing over and over and shaking. I could tell that the cat was starved, so I did what felt natural -- I went in, popped open a can of wet food, plopped it in a plastic bowl and brought it outside. It took him all of 10 minutes (or less) to eat the entire thing before he tried to follow me into the house. Not knowing what to do, I slammed the door. Tears came down as I walked up each stair to our apartment front door. I know it's been a mild winter but it has still gotten cold. How could I let this sweet guy or gal stay out there?
In the event that this cat was somebody else's, I put two ads on Craigslist, posted flyers around the neighborhood including the businesses down the street, and emailed the neighborhood list serve. No response. I called every single rescue, shelter, homeless pet place in Maryland that I could find online. I heard from a good number of them, all with kind but unfortunate "no, we cannot take this cat" responses.
It was during the many conversations I had with experts from shelters and rescues that I realized that I would have to look into getting a humane cat trap. I tried as hard as I could for days to get this cat into the cat crate that we had. Nothing worked.
So last weekend I found myself at Small Miracles Cat Rescue with my friend Liz, scoping out traps they had in the basement. It was because of her regular volunteer work with the organization that I was able to get my hands on a trap, fast, with no runaround.
In the meanwhile, I was able to line up two potential rescues for the cat, who we had started to call "Pickles." Both required only very limited windows of time for capturing Pickles -- definitely not conducive to capturing a cat that came by at unpredictable times.
We put out the trap for the first time last Sunday and almost caught Lucy, our neighbor's cat twice. I had a feeling that night that we would catch Pickles the next day.
And my instincts were correct. I had just started eating my lunch at work when I called Allan to see if we had caught anything. He was just about to bring in the trap when he saw Pickles sitting in there puzzled.
The next thing to do was to have Allan take Pickles to the Falls Road Animal Hospital, where we could find out what sex the cat was as well as have him/her tested for feline leukemia and other diseases.
The experience with the Falls Road Animal Hospital went way better than expected. I have heard mixed things but am definitely very pleased about how they treated Pickles and us during what felt to be the most stressful part of the whole rescuing process. The prices weren't so bad and after visiting Pickles (he had to stay over), my mind was at ease.
We found out that Pickles was a boy (I was right) and he was in perfect health. I had a rescue all lined up so the next part of the plan included taking Pickles there once released from the Falls Road Animal Hospital. It ended up that Pickles was released a day early, which would not fit into the limited time-frame I had to take him to the rescue the following day. So we had two options 1) leave him at the animal hospital and pay an extra $17 to board him or 2) bring him home.
We had gotten this far and I had my reservations about the rescue we had him lined up for. Not only that, but we had been talking about getting a second cat sometime down the line.
We ended up keeping Pickles, who is adjusting to his new life very well. We looked into how we should go about introducing him to our cat, and so far it's going pretty well. He is still a bit skidish, but fits in well here. He's litter trained and loves spending time with us.
All in all, I feel very lucky to have gone through this, although it was extremely stressful for all of us. And if anyone ever needs any help capturing a cat, I now have some sensible advice to share.
Carrie Oleynik is a writer based in Baltimore, Md.
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