I have a confession to make. I hate trapping cats. I strongly believe in TNR, but I, personally, hate the “T” part of the process! I feel horrible admitting it, but I hate trapping. I love the thrill of catching them, and the rewarding feeling that comes with getting them cared for and released, but I hate trapping. For one thing I don’t have the patience for it. I like to get things done right away, I can’t sit around all night waiting for the cats to cooperate and go in the trap. I am a get in and get it done sorta girl. I don’t like waiting for others. I like to go in and do it myself, yes I have control issues, I would find the whole process so much easier if I could just go over and put the cat in a trap, or chase him in! (Of course if we could just pick them up and care for them that would negate the whole trapping process wouldn’t it?) Beyond not having the patience to sit waiting for cats, I also get distracted too easily, my mind races with a thousand thoughts and I have to keep my hands busy or I go stir crazy. I cringe whenever I find a new cat or hear about a new situation. So why do I do it? Why do I keep putting myself through it? Because it’s the right thing to do, and it helps ease my guilt.
Having worked at a cat shelter I know first hand just how many people don’t care enough to do anything about the cats in their neighborhoods. People dumping their cats because they can’t afford them, or didn’t bother to get their cat fixed and now have a litter of kittens to deal with. And I can’t even begin to think about the thousands of cats euthanized every day at shelters across the country without a piece of my heart breaking. So why do I trap? To ease the guilt associated with being a human. To help ease the numbers in the shelters. To make a few lives just a little better.
I trap because I have to. I have to ease the guilt, but I also have a certain aura about me, what I call “cat juju.” I was claimed by my parents cat shortly after my birth, since then I have loved and attracted cats. I can’t go outside without a cat finding me. And being the bleeding heart that I am, I can’t just ignore them. I can’t let them suffer, and make more kittens that will suffer. I just can’t. So I suck it up and help the kitties. I deal with the ignorant people who don’t know, don’t care and don’t want to do either. I deal with the people who want to help but just don’t know how, don’t want the responsibility. I stress myself out, send my anxiety through the roof and empty my wallet in attempts to ease my guilt and their suffering.
I have trapped sixteen cats in the time I have been trapping. Sixteen cats who are better off because of me. I am ashamed that it is such a small number, ashamed that I haven’t caught more, that there are still cats in my neighborhood I have missed. So I keep buckling down, but I know I don’t do enough. I know if I really cared, if I was really conscientious I would have trapped them all years ago, that I would be out there all night, every night, until I catch them all, no matter how many alleys I have to sit in, no matter how many sleepless nights I have. But I don’t. I can’t. I have excuses, some valid (work, school, what passes for a social life), some not (not having an appointment, rain, my need for sleep, not knowing where the cats live, and again, what passes for a social life). So I deal with the guilt; the guilt of not doing enough,still having cats roaming my neighborhood and the guilt of knowing there are so many more in the city that need to be trapped, the guilt of knowing how many suffer because of the actions of humans. And, of course, the secret guilt of knowing I hate trapping.
Perhaps the best way to sum everything up is with a dream I had the other night, after a fruitless attempt at trapping. I dreamt that I was at Tree House’s Spay/Neuter Clinic with a recent catch (who for some reason was in a carrier) and turned out to be my Momma cat (who understands these crazy dreams…) but when I realized my catch was really Momma cat, my former coworker started lecturing me, “sure” he said, “you can catch the obvious cats but you can’t catch the harder one, the ones who hide. I see how it is. You don’t care. You don’t want to put the work in. You want the easy way out.” , so maybe I don’t remember his exact words, but that was the gyst of it. My conscience yelling at me in my sleep, telling me to stop making excuses, stop only trapping the easy cats and start putting in more work to catch the rest of the cats in my neighborhood.