When I started taking care of these feral cats, I had no idea how many difficult moral/philisophical decisions I would have to make. I was awake at 5 a.m. this morning second guessing the choices I made last night.
I switched up my trapping strategy and went out after work instead of the morning and there were way more cats around. I set the trap with sardines and KFC and within minutes a very skinny tortieshell was trapped. A couple of weeks ago I saw one of the tortis very pregnant so I was concerned about catching a nursing mother. Joanne and I looked at the torti we trapped and her nipples were prominent. This was the first time I've had to deal with this scenario. If she's had kittens recently and we take her to be spayed, by the time she's back the kittens will have died. If we don't take her, we may not catch her again and she'll continue to reproduce. Joanne said take her in, a friend Connie who takes care of ferals said release her. I agonized as to the right thing to do.
Ultimately I decided to let her go. I reset the trap, Joanne went off to her appointment, and I waited on my own. The two tortis circled the trap and one really wily one managed to pull pieces of KFC out. Sweaty, stinking of sardines and greasy chicken, I refilled the trap. In she went and finally the trap closed behind her. This was a different torti but also looked like she was nursing so I released her too. Earlier this year, we did a late stage abortion. Some people find that controversial but I was OK with that, the kittens weren't born yet and they died humanely. I couldn't stand the thought of tiny kittens dying slowly of dehydration and starvation.
One more time, I set the trap and went off to feed at the other area. By the time I came back, there was an orange cat in the trap. Hank was obviously male but after all that effort I wasn't going home empty handed so I loaded him in the car and took him to Connie's garage for an overnight stay.
This morning he went in to be neutered and Maggie was returned. The vet thought she might be adoptable but I had nowhere for her to go. Not an easy thing to find a home for a semi-feral 7 year old toothless black cat during kitten season. The vet called to say that Hank's teeth weren't great but I had to say that I only had money for his neutering, no cadillac service.
So I still don't know if I did the right thing - there's no manual that came with this job. I'll wait a month and hope I can catch them again before they have yet another litter.
All I can do is persevere.