I know the Garage Cats like to wander. It’s just part of their nature to wander and explore, especially since they are all still so young, even Mom is still pretty much a “baby,” being no more than two years old, she still has kitten energy!And I knew that they liked to check out the neighbors’ yards, but I suppose I was a little naive when it came to just how much trouble they were capable of getting themselves into. Especially after the two minor incidents I had with the neighbors, I probably should have done a flyering of the neighborhood to tell people the cats were being cared for and that I would help with any problems ’caused by the cats. I just didn’t want to get constantly harassed, I hate confrontation. Yet, that is exactly what happened. My fellow caretaker, Veronica, was giving the cats their breakfast this past Monday when one of the neighbors drove past, stopped and backed his car up then started yelling at her to stop feeding the cats. When she called and told me about this later she said she talked to him, tried to explain that the cats were already fixed, vaccinated and she had the permission of the property owner. The man, as so frequently happens, was pissed and not listening to her. He said they keep shitting in his yard and he was going to poison them. She didn’t think to ask his name, which he probably wouldn’t have given, and wasn’t able to get his license plate numbers.
After listening to Veronica I will admit I went into panic mode. I wanted to get those cats out of there right away. That very night if possible. At least to some place temporary where they could be safe from any attempts at extermination. I wanted to fix it! I wanted to find the guy who threatened them and try to have a rational conversation with him, offer to clean up after the cats and help keep them out of his yard. I wanted to remind him that it is a crime to poison companion animals and that leaving poison out could hurt someone’s pet, not just these “unwanted” cats. But I didn’t know who he was or where he lived, I felt so useless. I posted a message on the Chicago feral cats message boards I belong to, and the director of Animal Care and Control offered to send someone out to remind this neighbor about the illegality of poisoning companion animals, which was a great moral booster. But I was still upset. My desire to relocate them became even more urgent. I knew their garage will be boarded up this summer, and now the neighbor is threatening them, it was time for them to move.
Fortunately for me and them, Tuesday was my day to volunteer at Tree House with their Feral Friends program. Somewhere along the lines of returning phone calls and e-mails I had to talk to Jenny, the head of the Feral Friends program and we started the process of selecting a barn to relocate them to. A few hours later Jenny calls me back and mentions there is another cat that has to be moved this weekend, and there was a place just outside of Springfield looking to take on six to eight cats, I should call and see if she was willing to take on seven cats this weekend. Sure enough she was! Suddenly I had a new home for my Garage Kitties! With moving day coming up fast, there were still lots of preparations to make, such as finding a driver, getting traps, and of course catching the cats. This was all far too much stress for me to handle, especially with the whole personal connection to the cats.
For a while it looked like I was even going to have to miss my journalism conference on Saturday to drive the cats down myself. (That opened a whole new can of stress as I have issues driving to Round Lake Beach on my own, and that is a much shorter drive). But things have finally started falling into place–we have a driver for Sunday, three of the six cats walked right into the trap last night when I did a trap rehearsal, and I can go to my conference on Saturday. It will all work out wonderfully. I can finally relax just a bit. Now, I just have to deal with the bittersweetness of them moving.