Trapping feral cats for sterilization means encountering something different each day. It’s the fun aspect of this work. Now don’t get me wrong; that doesn’t mean it’s one big party. On the contrary. The list of unpleasantness is long, but I’ll refrain from boring you with most of that.
Needless to say, working with Marin Friends of Ferals has its moments…I’ve broken my finger, been bitten through my knuckle by a kitten barely bigger than my hand, been saturated with poison oak and nearly lost the tip of my pinky from another bite. Scrapes and bruises come with the territory from efforts to spay and neuter feral community cats, yet I love what I do. But as it turns out, love hurts.
One joy of the job includes meeting new people and traveling to places in Marin County (and beyond) where I don’t often venture. For instance, last week a family in Sebastopol contacted us wanting 4 ferals for rodent control on their 5-acre spread.I always do a site check first, so I took the long drive out one afternoon. Talk about the boondocks. Finding this place was like being in a maze. Luckily I had my trusty Waze app to lead the way, or Search and Rescue would still be looking for me.Homeowner, Chris, is a gregarious guy, a pony-tailed ex-Marine with two adorable little girls and wife, Megan. I’m a talkative person but Chris puts me to shame. I could listen to his stories for hours. And I did. Trees, beetles, politics, the marines, his daughters, goats…I knew lots more when I left than when I arrived.
Chris took me around his expansive forest-like property, pointing out where we could place the cats in holding cages during their 3-week acclimation. On my tour, his two rambunctious dogs covered me in mud with their leaping exuberance. But with 4 mutts of my own, it didn’t faze me. Then, heading home, I began to itch. Poison oak? Too soon. Fleas? Could be; I kept petting their dogs. As I drove along, the itching continued…first in my hair, then along my neck and down my back. Talking on my speakerphone with my friend Sue, I scratched an itch on my arm and felt a tiny lump. Turns out a tick had already embedded itself in my wrist. Naturally, I envisioned Lyme disease already surging through my veins.
Turns out one of Chris’s stories described the abundance of deer ticks on his property and how they carry Lyme disease, so his family constantly search each other like monkeys do in the wild.
Horrified, I pulled over and told Sue. She immediately searched online: How to dislodge a tick.
Do you have tweezers with you?
No. Why would I have tweezers with me?
How amount dental floss?
Yes. Who doesn’t carry dental floss?
Okay. It says wrap it around the body and tie it into a knot.
It’s on my wrist and since I’m not an octopus, that’s tough to do with one hand.
(We’re old friends so she tolerates my sarcasm.)
Okay, this says putting Vaseline on it suffocates it within 30 minutes.
I’ve got Blistex. Does that count?
So I slathered the tick with mint flavored lip balm. Thirty minutes later he was deeper into my wrist. Seems I had a permanent squatter in me.
At home, I used those tweezers to dislodge the little bugger and immediately jumped into the shower to wash away any lingerers. But with every little itch, I imagined I was harboring a stowaway. Wait, what’s that on the back of my neck?! (False alarm…just a mole.)
Never a dull moment in this job.