It’s a look you get to know well when you’re trapping outdoor cats. That “deer-in-the-headlights” look, the closed down (meatloaf) posture, the tail wrapped tight, cats seeking comfort from their littermates when available. For the cat or kitten recently trapped, life just changed, big time.
And out newest ones, who just got trapped this weekend:
For most of the adult cats, the change will be significant, but life will go back to something approaching normal. We will spay or neuter them, give them their vaccinations and any needed medical care, and they will go back to their home. Same for older kittens, too old to adjust to living with people in a home. Life will, hopefully, be a bit easier without all the chaos around reproductive behaviors, and it doesn’t hurt that vaccines provide a little protection too.
But for the little ones, those two months and under, life changes will be huge. What they don’t know (at first) is that those changes will be for the better. Most, if not all, will get forever homes and never have to live outside again. But first, they have to get used to the two-legged folks who trapped them. If we get them young enough the change happens quickly, within days. They go from “OMG, don’t touch me!” to “OMG, come over here and hold me now!” in no time at all.
For the older kittens, those over about six weeks, the transition is more difficult. Our rule, in the cat house, is that the more you hiss at us, the more you get held. And because we have a number of insistent kitten cuddlers who don’t give up on the little ones, we haven’t failed one of them yet. They’ve gone from the photos above to the ones below over the course of days or sometimes weeks, and then they get their surgeries and go off to adoption programs to find new homes.
In a TNR (trap/neuter/return) program, we are deeply satisfied by getting cats their surgeries and returning them to caregivers who will feed them and often provide shelter and other resources. Over the last (nearly) four years we’ve TNR’d around 875 cats. But it is even more satisfying when we can get them young enough that we can not only stop the reproductive process, but get them off the streets as well. And have a lot of kitten-fun in the process. Hey, there’s got to be some fun to balance all the work, right?!