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.

Note: Schroeder’s story to date can be followed here.

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