It should have been easy. We made a sort of plan but didn’t think it should take much time or effort. We were so wrong.

It started with coming to the realization that if we were going to stop the neighborhood from being over run with feral cats, we had to do our part. I will readily admit that I’m an old softie when it comes to animals – even feral cats – which is why I have been caring for five kittens from a feral mother cat. She had two in her first litter and three in the second.

In order to break the cycle at least in part, dad and I decided to have these five felines fixed. The Clearfield County SPCA has a program where you can purchase a spot for a cat to either neutered or spayed. They have a limited amount of spaces when they hold these clinics. We had hoped to get the cats from the first litter – a male and a female – fixed at the same time. However the slots for male cats were filled and we were only able to purchase a slot for a female cat. That meant Princess, as I’ve been calling her, would have to go on her own.

We first purchased two soft carriers in preparation of taking two cats to the SPCA. That turned out to be the wrong decision. The SPCA requires the cats to be brought in a hard case. Dad, who was dropping Princess off Thursday morning, inquired as to why that was necessary. Well, it seems cats are very intelligent creatures. In the past, several made their escape by unzipping the door on a soft carrier case. As there were about 30 cats that would be brought to the SPCA that day to be fixed, they staff, understandibly, did not want 30 cats getting loose within the building.

So with hard case in hand, Dad and I set about trying to get Princess to believe that going into it was a good idea. Princess was not of the same opinion.

We brought her into the house by herself. I put a few small pieces of chicken in a line from just outside the carrier to three-quarters of the way in. Thinking she’d keep moving forward to get the next piece of chicken and I’d eventually just push her butt in and shut the door with no trouble at all. Well, with many a best laid plans, the outcome was not how I had envisioned it to be.

She went cautiously into the carrier after the chicken. I figured she was in far enough and laid my hand on her backside to push her in. The minute I did she put herself in high drive going backwards. I grabbed for her and she swung her paws with claws extended. By the time it was over, I had two nicks in my forearms and she was halfway across the room. As I looked at her, I knew the job of getting her in the carry case had just gone from “it shouldn’t be too bad” to “I don’t know how we are going to do this.”

Knowing better than to go after her, I thought calming her down some may help her relax and give us a better chance of getting her in the carrier. So I sat on the loveseat and called to her. She eventually came over and even jumped up next to me. I petted her, scratching behind her ears and on her tummy. While she enjoys the attention she doesn’t really settle down but is ready to run at the slightest wrong movement. She eventually jumped down and kept some distance from both myself and Dad.

Then Dad had the idea of throwing a small throw over her to keep her from scratching and possibly keep her calm in the dark. We figured I’d throw the throw over her and then wrapped up in the blanket I’d take her to the cage and push her in. As I attempted to lift up the cat with the throw over top of her I wondered how a cat could have so many moving parts. She seemed like she was going every direction at once until she found a way out of the throw and took off through the house.

A half hour later after checking two bedrooms and a bathroom (whose doors I shut thereafter to keep from having to search them again), I found her in the upstairs bedroom. One step toward her and she was on the move again, down the stairs, through the hall and back under the love seat. Dad and I leaned the loveseat toward the front as we raised its back legs and there she lay. But one move toward her and she was off to the races again.

We did this route of loveseat, through the kitchen, down the hall, up the stairs to the bedroom and back several times. “Instead of Princess, I should have been calling her Flash,” I told Dad. She was like a blur as she ran from room to room. On one of the times that she was under the loveseat, Dad and I rested and thought about how we were going to catch her and get her in the carrier or more to the point if we even could achieve that goal.

Of course while we were chasing her, her brother – Midnight – was watching and meowing at her. He had started to climb the screen door before finally getting down. I knew she would race for the outside porch – her safe spot – if the door was open. I told Dad maybe I could put the carrier outside the sliding doors on the porch. Then hold the throw up around and above it. I figured if I didn’t let her through anywhere else, she’d run right into the carrier. Dad, however, noted that if she did get by me (as she’d been doing for the past hour) we would not be able to catch her as she’d make her way behind all the deck furniture that is stored on the porch.

He had a better idea. He’d get his fishing net from the garage.

So began phase two of Operation Catch and Cage.

Dad with fishing net in hand would try to net Princess as she lay under the loveseat. We leaned it forward and Dad swooped down with the net. Princess shot out from the other side of the loveseat and back to the bedroom on the other side of the house. But after a couple of runs Dad and I split up. I followed her upstairs and got her moving downstairs. He awaited at the end of the hallway ready to net her. Princess decided to throw a spanner in that plan and made a detour in the hallway into the bathroom. That change ended up being her undoing.

Dad followed her in and shut the door while I went to get the carrier and bring it back. He missed her the first time, but the second time she was netted. As I came into the bathroom and quickly shut the door he showed me Princess curled up in the bottom of the next. She was laying quietly and not moving. A little maneuvering had her inside the carrier with the door shut and locked. She made no noise as I carried her through the house and onto the back enclosed porch – her safe place. Once I put the case down, it rocked several times as she tested whether she could escape from it or not. But the carrier held firm.

Thursday morning she was transported to the SPCA for her operation and as I write this Dad is on his way to pick her back up.

Some parents says boys are easier to raise than girls. Dad and I are hoping that is true, or at least, that getting Midnight into the carrier won’t be so tough.

The theory that boys are easier is a fallacy, as least as far as felines are concerned. I had a note attached to Princess’ carrier when Dad went to pick her up. It said, “It’s a boy! Princess is a Prince.” Now I’m wondering if we’ve had two male felines on the back porch all this time or if Midnight should have been named Dawn.

Midnight seems a little distant tonight. I’m sure Prince told him all about his capture. Let’s hope that memory fades by the time it’s his time to go for a little ride. If not, there’s always the fishing net.

I’ll have to ask Dad what type of fish tales he use to describe this. I can hear him now. “You should have seen the big ‘cat’fish I caught the other day...”

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