So I recently relocated 4 young ferals as mousers to a property that on the surface seemed perfect. Still, I entertained little nagging doubts about the owner of the 700 acre ranch, winery and B&B. Yes, he said all the right things but was it because he thought it’s what I wanted to hear? I wondered, but ignored my hunch because the place seemed perfect for feral mousers. And it was. But HE surely wasn’t.
We acclimate cats for 3 weeks in cages before releasing them. But when Mr. Jackass admitted he let the cats out after 10 days, he confirmed my reservations. Still, he assured me they were fine, eating a lot, everything’s hunky-dory…blah, blah, blah. So yeah, I wanted to believe him.
A couple weeks later I returned to collect our relocation supplies. That’s when I saw the magnitude of ignoring my hunch. Basically, the cats were starving. Turns out he barely fed them in the erroneous belief they’d be better hunters (the opposite of what I instructed). However, nobody can tell this guy anything so I immediately formulated a plan to recover the cats, knowing he’d resist.
The next day a member of his staff called me in confidence to divulge that not only had he meagerly fed the cats but she witnessed him kick one that morning. She conveyed what a bad dude he is, feared and disliked by staff who were concerned for the cats. That sealed it. I called Gina, one of my volunteers, and we made plans to sneak over there that night and snatch them back. My heart pounded with the thought of it. Gina and I dubbed our mission:
When we arrived, fog engulfed the property, an eerie addition to this clandestine night of thievery. As expected, the cats were waiting on Mr. Jackass’s porch for food that wasn’t coming. Thankfully, he was nowhere in sight. His truck was there but not his car. So we went to work quickly setting 4 traps. We caught 3 of the siblings within minutes, whisking them to safety in the back of my SUV.
Naturally the 4th one took his sweet time entering the trap. All the while I’m whispering, “Go in baby, hurry, hurry.” I kept glancing toward the long gravel driveway, waiting for Mr. Jackass to return home. My heart raced with every passing car visible on the road below the ranch.
Ultimately food lured the last cat into the trap. We caught him just as darkness engulfed the ranch. Sure that we’d be shot if caught on the property, we couldn’t jump into my SUV fast enough. I took off so quickly, Gina’s butt barely hit the seat before my tires were spinning, spraying gravel behind us as we flew down the driveway.
Then, as we rounded a curve, a light inside Mr. Jackass’s house turned on. “OH MY GOD, he’s home!” I yelled to Gina. Had he heard us spinning out? Or was the light simply on a timer? I guess we’ll never know. We didn’t look back and whisked the scared and starving cats to the humane society for a big meal and warm bed.
As luck would have it, a great family called the next day looking for 3 feral cat mousers for their 2 acre property. So I asked, “How would you feel about taking 4? Let me tell you the story…”
All 4 cats are now at their new, gorgeous outdoor home. Best of all, I have a hunch this is the perfect fit for these ferals. No bad vibes, no nagging doubts. Just thankful and relieved we had a happy ending to The Great Escape.
Originally posted in September, 2016. Since then we’ve had to perform only one other Great Escape.