In the late fall, after all our guests have gone, I often walk though the camp. Every year, it seems, I catch a glimpse of a beautiful house cat as it slips into the bushes.
Sometimes campers report a lost kitty, though many do not. If a lost cat stays in a certain area, we might be able to trap it. Yes, trap, as it seems that cats turn quite wiley and dare I say a bit "feral" very quickly. Sometimes, if a cat is seen near our maintenance shops, we'll put food out for it. We even open a kitty door for the cold nights.
If we see a cat we try to help it survive -- IF we can't catch it.
Finding 'Alley Cat'
This year, campers Al and Linda Bloss brought "Alley Cat" with them camping. As so many before him have done, he slipped out and disappeared. Al and Linda had let us know about the cat getting away, so we knew who to call if we could get catch him.
Luckily, Alley Cat picked an area where he was regularly seen. That is important because we can't just set traps out randomly. There is a lot of wildlife that we do not want to disturb or worse yet injure. Not to mention, it is no fun for the ladies to have to deal with an upset and scared trapped skunk, or raccoon.
Jolene, Amy and Mindy Rogala put in some detective work and set out to rescue Alley Cat. They even called me for advice on baiting the live trap (stinky canned Mackerel does the job!).
Setting a live trap is no simple matter. If the trap is not set properly, it could misfire and frighten the cat, making it unlikely the cat would go inside it again. After an initial misfire (or maybe Alley Cat was smarter than we thought), the trap was reset and Alley Cat was caught! Once they were notified, Al and Linda immediately made the trek to the camp.
So this time we have a happy ending to our lost kitty story, but please let this be a warning! For your cat's safety, try to find a way for your cat to stay home or in a kennel if you visit. If you must bring it, then make sure it is caged, leashed and never allowed loose. Nothing is easier to lose than a cat that wants to slip outdoors!
Leave Kitty At Home
We know folks love their cats (we know we do), but we wish they would find an alternative to bringing them camping. Camping may be fun for humans but for an animal it can be disorienting, confusing and even terrifying. Cats become accustomed to their homes and owners. When you remove them from that environment, even the most docile kitty may go into fight or flight mode.
Once a cat is out, freedom during the warm summer at our camp is intoxicating for them. Lots of critters to chase, fun underbrush to hide and explore in. That kitty napping on your lap can be thrilled by the adventure of the outdoors and may never answer a human call again.
The problem is that during the warm summer, cats do not understand the concept that WINTER IS COMING!
In the freezing winter months, you would hope a smart cat keeps warm by our outdoor wood furnace. Though, remember that the camp is adjacent to thousands of acres of wilderness. So during the off-season the grounds are prowled by most any predator you could imagine.
During the warmer months we have plenty of ground voles, moles, squirrels, chipmunks, etc. to satisfy a prowling kitty. But once that snow hits...