December 3, 2020
I sometimes think about quitting all the local Facebook groups I’m in, or at least muting them so I’ll only see them when I specifically go looking, since there are so many folks around here who cause my blood pressure to rise from their assholery and/or willful ignorance, but if I’d done that, I wouldn’t have known about the kittens.
Just after Labor Day, there was a post in one of the groups asking people to keep an eye out for three kittens, two grey (actually stripey tabby, it turned out) and one black, that had been trapped in town and dumped up on the mountain, my mountain. I put a sad reaction on the post and went about my normal life; a week or so later, I was coming back from getting the mail in the village and a small black cat literally crossed my path. Ding! I soon lost sight of the catâ€”small black animal and tall weeds at dusk were not a great combination for visibilityâ€”but remembered the post and let the woman who made it know at least that one kitten was still around.
A couple weeks after that, I saw a greyish brownish stripey kitten in the same general area, again at night. The lady who was trying to rescue them and I got to texting and messaging and a couple more sightings of the black one later, we decided to put out traps. At first, we hid them in trees next to a trail near where I’d seen the black one, but eventually moved them up closer to the spot under a bridge where the kitten had been, even though that was in full view of anyone walking that trail. Since it was easier for me to get to the traps, I usually took the morning and evening checks while the other lady took the afternoon. At times we had an open bowl of kitten food outside the trap along with fish inside; the bowl would often get eaten out of, but there was no way to tell what was doing the eating. It was frustrating.
Then, near the end of October, there was some snow that was just the right consistency to form a light layer near the trap, and one morning I saw what very much looked like cat paw prints in it near the trap and food bowl. I felt hopeful.
Not even a week later, my partner in this project texted me to say she’d found a kitten in the trap! Oh, how I wished I hadn’t picked that afternoon to take a class on Zoom. Since I couldn’t get down there to see for myself, she texted me a photo. Oh, sweet baby. I was surprised it was one of the stripey ones, as other than that first time, I hadn’t seen them at all, only the black one.
One down, two to go. We kept up our routine of checking and refreshing food in the traps regularly, but the weather was getting colder and the snow was getting deeper, and I worried. A week after the tabby got trapped, Mr. K and I walked down to the village together for the last check of the day. He went up to the P.O. boxes to get our mail while I went down to see what I could see by the trap. What I saw was a black kitten in the trap, none too happy about it. I could barely believe it. I decided it would be just as fast and about the same level of traumatic to just pick up the trap and walk home with it as to leave it while I went to get the truck, drive back, load the trap in, and drive home. So there I was, standing by the side of the road with a kitten in a trap when Mr. K came back down from getting our mail. Surprise! The kitten was pretty calm by this point (or in shock maybe); I talked to it in what I hoped were reassuring tones. Since it was late at night, this little one spent the night in one of our bathrooms and my partner could come to pick it up the next morning. It stayed calm, ate a little and drank some water before curling up for a nap.
I wish I could continue this story with a photo of the third kitten, but I don’t have one. My partner and I kept to the routine that had worked to get the other two, but the third one didn’t take the bait. We’re not even sure it’s still around; we never saw all three together (though Mr. K did see two of them one time early on). I did see some paw prints in the snow about a week after the black kitten got trapped that looked a lot like cat paws, but it’s hard to know for sure.
What I do know for sure is that an ermine took and interest in the trap, and was light enough to get in and eat the tasty fish bits without triggering it. I know this because said ermine was there one morning when I was checking the trap and refreshing the food. It peeked at me from the rocks at the side of the bridge, would dart a few steps toward me, then retreat back to the rocks. On snowy mornings, I’d see ermine prints from the rocks into the trap and back out again.
With no clear signs of the last kitten in several weeks and the resort opening up for ski season (the trail the trap was next to is an active ski road in season), my partner and I reluctantly decided to call off our effort. I’ve checked for tracks a few times since, and seen nothing that looked like it was left by a kitten. I’m sad that we didn’t get all three, but glad to know that the two we did get off the mountain have been fixed (the tabby is a female, the black one a male) and are being fostered and learning to live the life of pampered house pets.
On this date in 2019: Fall Road Trip Loop, Part 1: It’s Not a Canyon, Really
2018: Mundanity on the Mountain
2017: The Mountain is Calling
2016: Driving, Driving, Driving
2015: Achievement Unlocked
2014: To Everything There Is a Season
2013: Creepier Than Elf on a Shelf
2012: Getting Better
2007 through 2011: No entries
2006: Eye Candy is Better Than No Candy at All
2005: No entry
2004: Catching Up, Again
2003: Bad Logo on the Rise