January 25, 2022

Schroeder Update 10

 Yesterday was the day I was to take Schroeder to a neutering clinic to have him fixed, vaccinated, and given other veterinary care. I felt fortunate to have found out about this opportunity to give him all the immediate care he needs at an affordable price. The clinic is sponsored by Cat Aid Network.

Cats were to arrive at the clinic between 7:45 and 8:15 am. Since the drive was to take nearly half an hour, I set my alarm for 6 am, an hour later than usual. I ate breakfast and dressed in 45 minutes. The next step was to secure Schroeder in his carrier in preparation for our trip.

Since Schroeder had been spending nearly all his time in a carrier—see a photo of the arrangement I had created for him in my last post—I expected that corralling him for the trip to the clinic would be a snap. When I walked into the room, I saw that he wasn’t in the cage—good. Then I discovered that he wasn’t in the carrier either. He had somehow escaped confinement. This was troublesome but hardly not shocking, as the connection between cage and carrier was more psychological than physical. I quick look around the room found Schroeder hiding on a bookshelf just off the floor. With my leather gloves and heavy-duty Carhartt shirt, I grabbed the cat, thrust him into the carrier, and closed the carrier door.

I pulled out of the driveway at 7:14 am, a minute before my planned departure time. There was light snow, but the drive was uneventful. The address I was given was for an empty warehouse. I arrived a few minutes early and saw that four or five cars with cats were already in the parking lot. After a few minutes, a woman entered the warehouse and emerged with a sign that said SPAY CLINIC and waved the cat owners inside. The building looked like, well, an empty warehouse. There was a small room at the right, and this is where cats in their carriers were being collected. The place had the ambiance of a pre-Roe back-alley abortion clinic. (I later learned that procedures were not performed in the warehouse room but in a truck that arrive later with two actual veterinarians.) I left Schroeder after filling out a couple of forms and drove home in more light snow.

About 3:30 pm, got the call that Schroeder was ready to be picked up. By this time, the snow was a little heavier, but the retrieval went smoothly. I wrote a check for the veterinarian services. This was the first time I had written a check in a year or maybe two years. Only cash or checks were accepted. (Who writes checks anymore?) I picked up Schroeder in his carrier and headed home.

When I returned home about 4:30, I opened the door of the carrier and let Schroeder roam about. He was most interested in food and water and seemed none the worse for wear. (He had been given an injection for pain.) In the evening, he was walking about, nuzzling my leg, allowing me to pet him, and even letting me pick him up. Suddenly, he seemed very socialized. When left alone, he retreated to a cozy corner he found between the couch and a plant stand.

I am cautiously optimistic that Schroeder will be an adoptable cat, though I will have to find a home for him. I had thought him quite young, but the vets apparently concluded that he is about two years old.

For now, I am removing the cage and carrier and letting Schroeder range about the room. I’ll write more about him when there’s something interesting to say.

Schroeder Back Home
Schroeder back home before I removed the cage and carrier.

January 20, 2022

Schroeder Update 9

The enclosure I set up for Schroeder when I brought him home from the animal shelter—see details here—was frankly jury-rigged. Since I didn’t have a proper litter pan, I fashioned one from a cardboard box. I had some litter-box liners I could use, so this sort of worked. I almost immediately constructed another one from a smaller box to give the cat a bit more room in the enclosure, however. Schroeder seemed to be spending all his time sitting in the makeshift litter pan. The next day, there was litter everywhere, including in the food and water bowls. I removed the bowls for cleaning, and, when I filled the food bowl, the cat at voraciously. I gave him a second helping.

By this time, I had opened the enclosure door and placed an open carrier in front of it. This gave Schroeder a sort of second room to his temporary home. Today, I found a proper litter pan. It is designed for a kitten, but it should be serviceable, and it takes up less room than my cardboard pans.

The current setup for Schroeder looks like this:

Where you may ask, is the cat? Well, he is in the carrier on the left. He has been there all day and has hardly moved. As far as I can tell, he has neither drunk, nor eaten, nor used the litter pan. I have tried to coax him out of hiding, but he has been, shall I say, unmoved. I have—wisely, I hope—not tried to dislodge him. Assuming he is not suffering from depression or catatonia—note the clever use of the term there—he will have to show himself eventually.

The good news is that on Monday, four days from now, I will be taking Schroeder to a clinic sponsored by Cat Aid Network. He will be neutered, vaccinated, and otherwise cared for. Between now and then, I’m hoping that Schroeder and I will become friends.

Stay tuned for further updates.

January 18, 2022

Schroeder Update 8 (caught!)

It was very cold today, and there was about 9 inches of snow on the ground. I noticed that there were prints in the snow leading to the small shelter I had put outside in the hope that Schroeder would find it and use it as a refuge from the cold. (There is a picture of the shelter in yesterday’s post.) I had not put the trap out today thinking that it might not work well in the snow.

In the early afternoon, I saw Schroeder leaning against the glass surrounding the back door. I quickly got a food bowl for him. When I opened the door, he clearly wanted to come inside. I put out the bowl, closed the door, and took a moment to think. The cat was clearly hungry, so perhaps I could induce him to enter the trap. I removed the food bowl and put out the trap, which had more food already inside. Schroeder walked around the trap, eying the food. Eventually, he entered the trap, but, to my surprise, he didn’t trigger the door that would have trapped him inside. (The trigger for the trap is a metal plate just in front of the bait.) I tried to close the trap door, but the cat came out. I decided to go inside and see what would happen next.

A few minutes later, I saw that Schroeder was inside the trap, and the door had been triggered. I had caught my intended quarry!

I brought the trap inside and was surprised that the cat was not struggling, though he did protest verbally a little. I set the trap down so I could call the shelter. The photo below shows Schroeder just after I brought him inside. Note the snow still clinging to the trap.

The next step was to take trap and cat to the animal shelter to check for a chip. The trip took 10 minutes or so, and I heard not a sound from Schroeder. It took a few minutes to check if the cat was chipped, as he really didn’t seem to want to move. We finally succeeded in checking. As I expected, there was no chip. Schroeder seemed to be on his own.

It isn’t clear what the step after neutering should be. Is this cat adoptable or will he need to be returned to the wild? The shelter did not have room for him, but I was sent home with Schroeder in a cage. On the way home, I was deciding where to put the new boarder. For safety’s sake, I wanted to keep him away from my own cats.

When I got home, I put Schroeder in a room I could close off (though Linus seemed to sense that something was up). It took a few tries before I constructed an adequate litter box and found bowls that took up as little room as possible in the modest cage (approximately 24x17 inches). I took the photo below once the cage was equipped with litter, food, and water. After the photo was taken, I replaced all three containers with smaller ones to give Schroeder as much room as possible.

Schroeder has been very quiet and still. I have not tried to handle him at all. Tomorrow, we’ll see if we can be friends.

January 17, 2022

Terrorism? Really?

President Biden called the hostage incident in a Texas synagogue “an act of terror.” The FBI, which is now investigating the 11-hour standoff that resulted in no casualties other than the hostage-taker, is calling the event “terrorism-related.”

Given that the perpetrator, Malik Faisal Akram, apparently demanded the release of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, the “terrorism-related” description appears justified. But did Akram really commit “an act of terror,” as the president asserted? Was he himself a terrorist?

Not everyone agrees on just what terrorism is. Merriam-Webster offers a straightforward definition:

the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

Merriam-Webster further provides multiple definitions of terror, including:

a state of intense or overwhelming fear
violence or the threat of violence used as a weapon of intimidation or coercion, especially violent or destructive acts (such as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands

The first definition captures the meaning of terror as a human emotion. For example, someone trapped in a burning building and facing a horrible death is surely experiencing terror. The second definition seems too broad, though the description following especially captures what most of us think of as terror or terrorism.

Malik Faisal Akram did indeed employ “violence or the threat of violence used as a weapon of intimidation or coercion.” But does not an armed bank robber do the same? Yet it would be viewed as odd to call the run-of-the-mill bank robber a terrorist.

Akram did not seek to intimidate the government or American citizens generally. As most of us understand terrorism, it necessarily involves inspiring fear (i.e., terror) in a wide audience. For example, flying airplanes into the World Trade Towers was a crime, but it was certainly also an act of terrorism. It scared the shit out of the entire country, which, no doubt, was the desired effect. Akram’s deeds not so much. He was a kidnapper and extortionist, and his crimes may have arisen in part from antisemitic animus. But I do not think him a terrorist.

President Biden, like many of us, was appalled by Akram’s actions. Rather than thinking deeply about the matter before speaking, he used the word “terror” because of the reaction that word elicits. He acted as many dictators do, labeling any violent act they dislike or fear as “terrorism.”

After 9/11, the words “terror” and “terrorism” themselves have become terrifying. They have become weapons in the hands of self-serving politicians because they call forth such visceral reactions and discourage further rational thought.

I do not believe that President Biden had ulterior motives in saying what he did. He is, after all, known for his less-than-precise declarations. This is not to excuse him, of course, and one could wish that, as President of the United States, he would edit his pronouncements more carefully. I think the president simply meant that Malik Faisal Akram did a really bad thing, something that was more reprehensible for having been committed inside a synagogue during a worship service. What he did was terrible, but it was not an act of terror.

Schroeder Update 7

My previous post about trying to capture Schroeder can be found here.

Yesterday was a frustrating day. I got up, went to the bathroom, and fed the cats. As I began fixing breakfast, I noticed that Charlie was staring out the back door. Sure enough, Schroeder was there, and I hadn’t put out the trap. It was a cold day (about 12 degrees), so I put out a bowl of food for the cat. Schroeder ate, though not all that much. After his snack, He sat for a time under the deck, a few yards from the back door. Since any water nearby would be frozen, I put out a bowl of water as well. Schroeder seemed uninterested.

After Schroeder went away, I put out the trap and a cat shelter that my own cats have never used. I thought the shelter might be attractive in the bitter cold. (See photo below,)

Cat Trap & Shelter

My visitor did not return. Snow began falling about 3 PM, and it was supposed to continue for 24 hours or so. Since I didn’t want to drive to the animal shelter in the snow should I trap Schroeder, I brought the trap inside.

This morning, there is at least six inches of snow on the ground, and it’s still snowing. Cat trapping will resume tomorrow.

January 14, 2022

Schroeder Update 6 (again, sort of)

Let me begin by saying that, despite deploying the trap again today, I did not capture Schroeder.

A neighbor reminded me that I had a list of e-mail addresses of people in the neighborhood. Hoping that someone knew something about the orange tabby I caught in the trap yesterday, I sent a message to all my neighbors. It didn’t take long to get a message back that an orange tabby had escaped his home and was missing. It seemed unlikely that there were two orange tabbies roaming about, but I was perplexed by having been told that the escaped cat was chipped. Nevertheless, I told my neighbor that the cat I had trapped was at a local shelter. The cat, Ozymandias (Ozzie for short), a neutered male, was retrieved from the shelter this afternoon. As it happens, the cat was inherited from a relative who said the cat was chipped, but that may have been a misrepresentation. (Ozymandias is a name I had never heard before. I doubt that many cats are given this name.)

Anyway, the orange tabby adventure has ended happily. The trap will be set out tomorrow in the hope of capturing Schroeder.

As I mentioned yesterday, I forgot to take a picture of the cat I trapped. His owners have kindly provided a couple of pictures of Ozzie at home:

January 13, 2022

Schroeder Update 5 (sort of)

As I reported yesterday, I put out a trap in hopes of capturing Schroeder. I brought the trap inside last night, as I did not want to capture any of the wildlife that sometimes shows up under my bird feeders at night. I returned the trap outdoors early this morning and gave it a look from time to time.

A little bit before noon, I saw that the trap held a cat. Alas, the cat was not Schroeder! Instead, I had caught an orange tabby I had seen a few times before. This cat was larger than Schroeder and, I assumed, older. When I went out to the trap, the cat was running about frantically and loudly protesting its confinement. I knew my next step was to check whether the cat had an identifying chip. I didn’t know what the next step was going to be after that.

I put the trap and cat into the car and drove to the animal shelter. The cat was calmer by the time we arrived, though it meowed constantly during the trip. It was not possible to check for a chip while the cat was in the trap, so the cat, Judy—a shelter employee, not her real name—and I went into a small bathroom where, if the cat eluded human control, it couldn’t get far. (I don’t yet know if the animal is male or female and didn’t make any attempt to find out.) We opened the trap, got the cat’s head and neck out, and scanned for a chip. The scan was negative.

At this point, I was afraid I would face an unpleasant choice: return the cat to where I found it or have it neutered at my expense and return it to where I found it. The former option seemed to miss an opportunity, but the latter one would be costly without advancing my original objective.

Judy was convinced that the cat was not feral; once out of the trap, he could be handled without the huge pair of gloves Judy brought into the bathroom. She left me with the cat and returned with a carrier. I was afraid this was being lent to me to take the animal away. But no. the cat was to stay at the shelter for now. I filled out a form identifying me and the place the cat was captured, and I was sent on my way with the now-empty trap.

When I got home, I decided not to put the trap outside again; the day had been too traumatic. Instead, I returned to folding underwear I had washed earlier. I did this with the help of a glass of brandy to calm my nerves. I’ll put out the trap in hopes of catching Schroeder tomorrow. Since I know the orange cat hangs around the neighborhood, I plan to ask around to learn if anyone admits to owning the cat or knows who does.

I did take away some lessons from today’s adventure. First, when you set a trap, you can’t guarantee what you’re going to catch. I had worried about catching a raccoon or (heaven forbid) a skunk. I hadn’t considered that I might catch another cat. Second, a trapped animal can seem pretty wild, and I found this unnerving. When I brought the trap inside, the cat stopped moving about frantically, though it was still very vocal. I tried talking to the cat in reassuring tones and assumed that, even caged, there was something to be said for being in a warm place on a cold January day. Finally, I learned that my choice of a stainless steel bowl to hold the bait (i.e., cat food) was a good choice. Both cat and bowl seemed to be flying about the trap when I went out to investigate what I had caught.

Well, we’ll see what we catch tomorrow.


P.S. I meant to take a picture of the orange tabby, but, amid all the excitement, I forgot to do it.


Update, 1/14/2022. Rereading my post today, I found several errors resulting from my having written rather hurriedly yesterday. These have been corrected.

January 12, 2022

Schroeder Update 4

Schroeder came by again today. I had not yet eaten breakfast when I saw Linus looking intently out the glass near the bottom of the door. He then moved to look out the glass on the side of the door. I looked outside and there was Schroeder. I quickly filled a bowl for him with cat food and set it outside. A couple of hours later, I picked up a trap from a local animal shelter and placed it outside.

Here is a picture of the trap, filled with food and armed:

I don’t know if Schroeder is smart enough to notice the food but not smart enough to recognize the danger of being trapped. I also worry that I may trap other non-feline wildlife in the area.