week nine: the atcay-atchingcay saga, part two

summer 2018

I have captured the renegades.
Of the five original kittens, three were subdued in a timely manner, caught and tamed by food and affection. We gave them away easily fo delighted families
Yet two kittens maintained their independence, growing larger, stronger, and faster. Grandma and I knew that even if we saw them, we couldn’t catch them by our own strength. They were simply too quick. It would take wit to catch them, wit and strategy.
So I bided my time, watching and plotting. The remaining kittens were beautiful, one orange and other a fascinating calico. I was determined to corner them eventually, and so every flick of a brightly-colored tail caught my eye. I or Grandma saw them many times before I managed to take them into custody, often in the early mornings–hunting with their mother–or late evenings–coming to the house to eat the food we leave out.
An opportunity finally presented itself. I was reading at the kitchen table when, glancing up, I saw a small yellow cat on the porch. Could it be? It was. I crept to the sliding glass door to see if I could slip out and corner him before he knew what was happening. No such luck. Cats, in general, have incredible hearing and this one was no exception. He turned and stared at me.
I froze and stared back, doing my best not to blink. The plot might’ve worked if Grandma-Cat hadn’t come up to join her child. She knew all my tricks and growled in warning. I’d already taken most of her litter; she wouldn’t make the capture of her remaining progeny easy.
The kitten didn’t see the threat himself, but he trusted his mother and skipped off. I watched from the window and saw him join his sister, the calico, by the basement door. A plan began to form in my mind.
Quickly I ran into the basement, startling Cali, our old calico cat. She moved reproachfully at this disturbance to her evening nap. I ignored her grumpiness and crept behind the door to peek at the kittens which were hopefully still below. Sure enough, they were there, scrounging for food.
I could provide food.
Taking dry cat food, I made a trail from the doorstep into the basement through the barely-open door. The door has a window in its upper half, so I could stand behind it and watch the proceedings. If I could get the kittens into the basement, I could quickly slam the door on them and deal with the situation from there. (Little did I know that these actions would open a whole other can of worms.) The mother cat began to create problems again, though. She could see me through the window, and though I didn’t move, she was (rightly) distrustful. The kittens were unconcerned, however, and I might’ve caught them in that situation if my grandparents hadn’t come outside at that moment, scaring them away.

Their interruption was for the best, though. Cali had eaten part of the food as well–the part that would bring them further into the basement–and was not happy with her fellow diners, growling as they attempted to join her. I took the opportunity to replenish the trail of treats and then retreat to a new waiting post on top of the workbench next to the door. I could sit there with one leg lifted against the door handle, out of sight but ready to close the door as soon as the kittens wandered far enough into the garage.

It was a good place, strategically, but had one flaw: time. I work out, but sitting with one leg parallel to the floor and with nothing to lean against is hard, and cats eat slowly when they’re nervous. I remained in that position for about a quarter of an hour, unable to move but unable to stop my leg from shaking. It was miserable, but I was determined. These renegades had caused enough trouble. I had to catch them.

My patience–and squats!–finally paid off. As soon as the tail of the orange rascal crossed the threshold, I slammed the door shut. The calico kitten sprang down the stairs, into the dark of the true basement, while the tabby hid somewhere below me. I raced off to tell my grandparents the good news: finally, the rascals are contained!

It was a few more days before we could fully capture them. The calico was especially wiley, hiding in the deep dark corners, behind the water heater and cobwebs, but we managed. They’ve yet to be tamed–it takes time to undo three-plus months of wildness–but they’re coming around. The soft food helps.

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