12.12.2006

Cats on Tuesday, Pt. 2



How I Met an Emma



In the Fall of 1999, a friend of mine was feeding a litter of four orphaned kittens living under a dumpster behind his apartment building in Kearny, New Jersey. We were never sure what happened to their mother, but as winter was approaching, it became clear that the four needed to find shelter, and soon.

The two males—one all grey, one all black—were fairly easy to lure into a cat carrier with some tuna, and found a home, together, in Manhattan. My friend took in one of the females, a willowy tabby. That left the shyest one of the bunch, a cinnamon tortie that’d I’d taken to calling “Emma,” and I decided to adopt her myself.

Easier said than done. She was extremely wary of people, skittish, and quite wild. But we were determined, and, now November, it was beginning to get cold. So we set back out with more tuna and laid a trail for Emma to follow into our cat carrier.

It’s one thing to catch a wild animal in a Have-a-Heart trap that springs shut once the animal is safely inside, as it had when Grey Cat had been “adopted” years earlier in a rather similar parking lot in Hoboken. It’s quite another to catch a virtually feral kitten in a regular cat carrier, attempting to somehow yank the door shut with a long piece of string, hoping to rush in and secure it before the unwitting victim wises up and flees.

Which, with Emma, happened on our first attempt. After she finally followed the tuna trail and had nosed into the carrier, a yank on the string alarmed her and she took off like a bottle rocket, and we scrapped trying to catch her that evening, sure she wouldn’t reapproach the strange tuna-scented plastic people-box again that night.

The next morning it was colder still. I remember lying on my stomach on the cold asphalt with the string in my hand, waiting for the nervous kitten to slowly nibble one bite of tuna at a time, her belly to the pavement as she crawled cautiously across the parking lot, drawing ever nearer to the carrier. She froze at the sound of every passing car, then would resume her slow progress toward the box. Nibble, nibble…sniff…freeze…nibble…

Finally, she was at the door of the cat carrier. One paw in…nibble. Sniff. Another paw. Then three paws…finally, I jerked the string and darted for the carrier, slamming the crate door—on her tail! She screamed, fought, slammed her tiny self against the cage door; desperate, I cracked the door slightly, she attempted to hurl herself out, all claws and screams and, panicking, I slammed the crate door closed and managed to lock it.

Hell hath no fury like this trapped kitten. She screeched, she yowled, she scratched, she bit the metal bars of the carrier, she threw herself against every side of the crate in terror. It was simply horrible. If I hadn’t been so convinced that she’d never make it through the winter on the street I’m not sure I could’ve survived the 20-minute drive to the vet’s office with this going on in the back seat of my tiny car.

Poor thing, she’d never been in a cage, a car, a building, or, worse still, a veterinary office. But that’s exactly where we wound up next.






Next Time: Emma Meets the Vet

13 comments:

RheLynn said...

Oh my what a harrowing tale of suspense! And she looks so sweet in that picture for contrast ;o) I'm sure she thanks you every day (especially on cold ones) for her rescue!

srp said...

And now she trusts enough to "show you the tummy"! I have done the same with a dog left in a culvert. That took nine months of feeding every day, leaving food and slowly having her start to wait for me, eat out of my hand, follow my car but not let me touch her. We were successful just before the winter set in and now she is in her forever happy home with a greyhound rescue. What a story your Emma had and what a lucky kitty!

Carrie K said...

Oh, poor Emma! Poor you! I'm glad you presevered. I'm sure she looooved the vet's office.

Joanie said...

Emma is lucky you found her. You can tell by the picture that she is a happy cat.
I also found Otto, my cat,on the street in 2000. When I gave Otto his food each day and night he would eat the entire dish in one sitting. It took almost two years before he would pick at his food walk away for awhile and then come back later like most cats do. I am happy to say he is also a happy "Fat" cat who is so loved.

Chris said...

I'm glad you persevered!! And what a cliffhanger until next Tuesday...

msfortuknit said...

Oh the illustrious

Gattina said...

That was a breathtaking story ! I red it like a crime story. You really have a very good writer style. How happy Emma looks now and how lucky she were that you insisted to catch her !
I know what it means to drive a cat to the vet ! Especially Arthur is horrible because of his siamese cat voice and he sings loud like a primadonna the whole way through ! Horrible ! Lisa/Emma complains in a heart braking voice. I am thinking about putting ear plugs in next time it happens !

Meow said...

Emma sounds like a very lucky kitty to have been adopted by you.
My kitty doesn't like the cage, or the car, or the vet, either !! Must be something in-bred !!!
Take care, Meow

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story. :) Emma is very lucky to have you. So wonderful that you persevered and finally managed to catch her in the carrier. She's a beautiful cat.

thursday said...

I love your story! I've been trying to figure out what to do about the family of cats living in and about my backyard. How do I catch feral cats? And then what do I do with them? The kittens are so adorable, too, and I hate to leave them out there (but there is a mother and a male un-neutered cat...who is getting very teritorial and spraying everything...). Oh, and your story-telling is terrific, btw!

mrspao said...

Emma is very lucky that you went back again to get her. We have a very feral puss but she is getting mellower with age!

Elizabeth said...

I just joined Cats On Tuesday. With a blog name, KittyCafe, how could I not? That name came directly from feeding stray/ferals, but I'll save my story for Tuesday!

Glaistig said...

Oh my god, I can totally visualize an image of you lying on your stomach waiting for that little one.

And stop making me get all verklempt and choked up, wilya!!!!!

And give her a hug from me, a perfect stranger hundreds of miles away. . . .