By Anita Bradley, FAN Volunteer –
Some trap-neuter-return (TNR) projects go on for many months, and the Newport Avenue project was one of them. Interruptions may occur, but FAN’s dedicated trappers do NOT like to leave cats behind! In July of 2020, a Norfolk community member reached out to FAN about kittens living under her apartment building. At least one of the residents was feeding the cats.
FAN trappers sprang into action to round up the babies catching four orange tabby kittens that day. A month later they trapped one orange tabby tom, assumed to be the father of the kittens. The mother was quite a bit more elusive. She would not go near the traps. By mid-summer, FAN was involved in numerous large projects. When communication broke down with the apartment complex residents, the project was left uncompleted… but not forgotten!
In the words of intrepid trapper, Michelle Keith, “I HATE when we leave mamas behind!”
This particular mother cat had been nagging at Michelle since she’d paused trapping. At the beginning of 2021 she took a Friday afternoon off work and planned to go to back to the apartments and set traps. She decided to try a circular trap since mom wasn’t being lured into the box traps she’d been using. Michelle recounts, “Maybe this one would be different enough that the mother might be curious and go in. I remember thinking on the way over, it’d been long enough that she could’ve had another litter. Sure enough, when I pulled up, there were 2 kittens, about 10 weeks old, in the bushes with mom, just like the previous litter had been.” Both babes were female so that would’ve added to the kitten situation in another few months.
Michelle set multiple traps & managed to nab one baby pretty quickly. She would set the traps in the morning on the weekend, then recheck at lunch, rebait, and come back before dark. She caught the second kitten and another orange tom by Saturday, but still no mama! Sunday morning she went back with a fat cat trap* and set it up. Our trappers have had luck with those traps and hard-to-catch, scaredy moms. She reset another trap and caught a tabby tom. When she returned at lunch mama cat was in the trap! Finally!
The babies were placed in foster care to be vetted, socialized and adopted, and the adults were spayed/neutered, vaccinated and returned to the location. And so, the cycle of reproduction was ended for this location. We call this full-circle TNR where no breeding cats are left and all kittens are removed. 🙂
It takes tenacity and dedication to complete a project like this, but as Michelle says, “I’m glad I got them! Those mamas stay in my head & gnaw at me until I can get back to them.” We’re so grateful you did!