In September 2017, we got a call from a woman who boards her horse at a Weld County horse farm. She stated that she believed there were approximately 60 free-roaming cats on the farm. We got the farm manager's approval to trap and Tab and I prepared for a "Large Trapping Day".
On Saturday in mid-October, we showed up bright and early with approximately 20 traps. The farm manager, who normally feeds the cats, had withheld food for 24 hours, so our quarry was good and hungry. Tab went to the right side of the farm and I went to the left - it's a large farm. Neither of us saw any cats milling around, which was unusual at a farm with so many cats.We were questioning why we'd even been called out there. Little did we know!
I baited my traps with stinky, canned mackerel - nothin' spells breakfast, to a feral, like the odor of mackerel in the morning. Things were quiet on my side of the farm, so I started walking around picking up aluminum cans, which we recycle as an LFFAC fund raiser. I had about 3 bags full of crushed cans when my cell rang. It was Tab. Tab said the ten words a cat trapper dreads, "I need help. Cats are coming out of the woodwork!" She breathlessly asked me to bring as many traps as I could and help on her side of the farm. She'd trapped 4 cats in quick succession. I gathered up the close-by traps and drove over to the east side of the farm. I replaced traps in those areas where we'd successfully trapped and within a few minutes, we'd caught even more cats. Each cat needs to be checked to see if its left ear was tipped - removal of a quarter inch of a cat's left ear is a universal symbol of a spayed or neutered community cat. If a cat has already been sterilized, we release them from the trap immediately, however, we weren't finding any tipped cats. We'd also caught a large number of kittens. We worked for approximately 1.5 hours, trapping cats and kittens and putting them in the shade of the car - a real cardio workout! Some traps caught more than one animal at one time!. I said to Tab, "We're going to have to consolidate some of these kittens into carriers - we're running out of traps". We took several trapped kittens into a small room in the barn. Tab donned heavy leather gloves that extended to her elbows. She reached into the traps to grab the alarmed and aggressive kittens and placed them into carriers. If the kittens weren't so angry, it would have been funny. They're very nimble!
Over the span of approximately 2.5 hours, we caught 13 adult cats and 10 kittens. Tab returned that evening to trap 3 more adults. The adult cats overnighted in their traps in Tab's garage. The kittens immediately went to foster homes at Boulder Valley Humane and Longmont Humane. Within a few weeks, these kittens would be tame and on their way to forever homes. At 6 am Sunday, I returned to Tab's, picked up all the cats in my (large) SUV and drove them to Denver to Denver Dumb Friends League (DDFL). DDFL provides free sterilizations and vaccinations for free-roaming cats (and house cats too), with help from a 3-year grant they've received. At 6 pm Sunday, I picked up the cats and drove them back to Longmont, where they overnighted in Tonni's heated shed. Monday afternoon, they were returned to their home on the farm. TNVR - Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release. 14 of the 16 adults were female - the population of cats on this farm was ready to grow dramatically. Many cat's lives were improved due to this team effort.
Since then, we've returned to the farm twice and trapped 3 more kittens and 2 more adults. With each subsequent trapping, the community cats become more and more wary of the traps, reducing the effectiveness of each day's trapping. We'll need to return a few more times to catch every un-neutered cat on the property.
The cats are now cared for and fed by an employee of the farm. One of our volunteers is providing food to assist in this effort.
Our thanks go out the woman who reached out to us to help control the cat population on this farm and to the farm manager who cared enough to allow us to TNVR at the farm. Arranging all the logistics of a big trapping event like this is huge. But the rewards of helping the free roaming cats are huge, which is why we keep on trapping!
LFFAC adventures, stories and maybe even a cute cat video every now & then.