On May 14th, SCARS received a call from a kind-hearted principal at a school in Fort Saskatchewan. A shy, feral mom had just had a litter of 5 kittens between two portables in the school yard and was wondering if we could help. Armed with a humane cat trap, some smelly cat food and lots of patience, some dedicated volunteers headed out. After meeting the staff and getting permission, the trap was set and the volunteers waited… and waited… and waited. After 3 long nights, a few different tactics and some creative trap modifications, the volunteers were able to trap the mom and her babies safe and sound.
By Laurie Gauvin
Wednesday, May 14, 2019 at 6 PM
My husband and I met with the principal of the Win Ferguson School. She showed us where the mom and kittens were living and had the maintenance staff loosen some boards so we could set the trap and hopefully lure the mom into it. The kittens were located in a narrow space between two cubicles that had been added to the back of the school. We removed a structure that consisted of about six boards and baited the trap with some cat food.
We put a blanket over the trap, set the boards on top and moved a good distance away. We kept a close watch because we couldn’t leave the trap unmonitored in a school yard. It was a very chilly night and our good friends Linda and Jim Burke kept us company. We monitored and trap until 1 AM but mom had not gone into the trap. We had to be up at 6 a.m. so we reluctantly packed everything up, reinstalled the planking and left.
Thursday, May 15 at 6 PM
This time, after doing some research, we decided the use the kittens as bait to lure the mom into the trap. We put a small pet carrier into the back of the trap, put the kittens into the carrier and left the door to the carrier open so mom could see the kittens and have access to them. We also put down a can of food.
This time, instead of propping the wooden planking up on top of the trap, we screwed a dark bed sheet to the opening and covered the trap and the pet carrier with a dark blanket. Mom would now have to go into the trap to get her kittens. If she did, she would be caught. We left the immediate area again and watched from a distance to ensure no one else went near the trap or the kittens. This time we also put some food on the outside of the trap. I also left my cell phone on top of the trap playing a recording of kittens crying.
We checked the trap at 9 p.m. and observed that mom had been eating the food that was outside of the cage. We put the remaining food inside the trap and once again backed off and waited. At close to 1 a.m., we checked the trap and were surprised beyond belief. The kittens were gone!
We pulled back the sheet and the kittens were back in the small passage exactly as they were when we first saw them. The food was gone from the trap but the trap had not been sprung. Disappointed we once again packed everything up, secured the planking to the building and we left. We were baffled at how she managed to go in and out of the trap five times without setting it off.
Friday, May 16 at 6 PM
Reinforcements arrive! Our friend Rene and her family offered to help us by monitoring the trap for a couple of hours. We once again set the trap and put the kittens into the carrier at the back. We had tested the trap at the house and were now confident if mom entered the trap again, we would catch her.
This time we dumped the cat food on the trap floor and again placed blankets over the trap. We had created a dark tunnel with kittens at the end. We left but soon after we got home, Renee called to say mom had already begun removing the kittens but hadn’t set off the trap. Renee and her husband reset the trap and I told Renee I would think of something else we could try.
We went back about two hours later to take over monitoring the trap. My husband and I came up with the idea that we would put a piece of plywood on the trap switch and make the plate bigger. Mom wouldn’t be able to stretch over it to retrieve her kittens. We felt this would be the way we would get her.
We set the trap up once again, this time with the plywood, and once again we waited. After a couple of hours we went and checked the trap. Mom had entered the trap and had once again taken the babies. We were not ready to give up!
This time, with help from my friend Linda, I retrieved the kittens and put them into the small carrier but I did not leave the carrier open. Mom would now have to work to reach her kittens if she entered the trap. I was hoping that she would move around enough that she would trip the switch and get caught.
At 9 PM, we decided we would check the trap, and We had finally trapped mom!