Older Daughter did eventually bring us to the spot on the bridge where the black & white kitten had been in the middle of the road. We pulled over and parked just at dusk. Everybody started scanning. It was only seconds before we were all coming to the same conclusion. We were in the middle of a rugged, unsettled area, with a bridge over a deep creek bed. There was a wooded area close by, and the weeds and vines all along the creek and road were thick and overgrown. My heart was sinking as I realized the chances of ever seeing that kitten again were slim to none.
And then I saw something. Quite a distance from us, there was a barely distinguishable dot right in the middle of the road. I stared for a minute trying to focus in the fading light. Yep. It was moving. And there were two other dots just behind the first one. I said (way too loud) to my group - There he is. There’re three of them. And they’re coming in our direction. I grabbed the trap, squinted harder, and headed up the road. I started saying - Kitty, kitty, kitty, and the kittens stopped. They were still so far away that I couldn’t even identify colors. They were just little dots way down the road. When they heard me calling, they froze. I kept walking in their direction, trying to look way down both sides of the road for landmarks. If they shot off the road into the dense foliage, I would have to know approximately where they entered the weeds. Everything looked the same out here. We’d found them. I didn’t want to lose them.
As I got closer, I could see that the one ahead of the other two was black & white, . . . . and he was moving towards me. I called again and he broke into a trot. I got very excited as we shortened the distance between us. But then I saw that the other two dots had disappeared. They must have gone into the overgrowth. I would worry about them in a minute. I kept calling kitty, kitty, and this little guy kept coming. When there was only about ten feet between us, I crouched down and called quietly to him. He stopped and looked at me. I threw a few pieces of dry cat food in his direction. Immediately his nose went into overdrive. He found each piece and swallowed it whole. I took a single step towards him, but he bolted. Fearing that we would lose him to the camouflage all around us, I stopped. The girls were right behind me. We baited the trap and set it. He walked straight in. NO! He was too light to trip the trap. He gobbled up the canned food inside and the trap door just hung there. We decided NOT to spook him by trying to race up and trip the trap ourselves. He moved back out of the trap. We re-baited and set it more sensitively. Around and around the trap he went, that little nose working overtime. Finally, he went back in and BINGO - we had him.
It was almost completely dark now. When I say dark, it’s hard to describe just HOW dark it gets in the country at night. As Husband and the boys took the trap and headed to the truck, the girls and I moved forward very quickly, straining to see, scanning everywhere as we walked. But it was no use. We would definitely not see the remaining two kittens again tonight. We would have to return the next day (Monday). And we would have to hope that we would eventually get those two (or more if that turned out to be the case).
Our little tuxedo rode home without so much as a peep. I hoped that would translate into an easy adjustment. It did not. I have been working off and on since this baby came home with us, but I have still only managed to make contact twice. Once, I scruffed and tried and to identify gender. It looks like my little him is a her. The other time I managed to touch her, I stroked all the way down her body. Her fur is in pretty good shape, so it was quite a shock to discover how desperately thin she is. But that’s it for this one. No more hunger. No more danger. No more homelessness. Satisfaction - because at least for this little gal, now the good life can begin.
Now comes the not-so-good part of this story. Younger Daughter and I went back Monday at noon. We didn’t really expect to see the kittens at that time of day, but we were both available so we went. And lo and behold, as we crossed the bridge, we saw a moving dot so far down the road that I was thinking it was a bird or a squirrel. We drove straight at it, and got about thirty feet from . . . yes, another kitten. I stopped, and we eased out of the car. There in the weeds beside the road was a calico kitten exactly the same size as our captive. But she bailed into the overgrown weeds and disappeared.
We set the trap and waited, hoping the smell of canned food would lure her back. It didn’t. We went back at twilight and set the trap again, hiding it in a weedy area. This time Younger Daughter and I left the trap and drove all the way home. Older Daughter and friends would check it late that night. I got a text at 11pm - Trap empty. Husband and I went yesterday afternoon and had no luck again. I left food and we came home. No one can go today, but we will go again tomorrow. Please keep your fingers crossed that we can get whatever babies are left.
And let me say this. Andrea - THANK YOU yet again for your fundraiser. It couldn’t have come at a more perfect time (just the gasoline cost for this mission is huge) . And THANK YOU to everyone who is participating in Andrea's fundraiser. I didn’t need more kittens right now, but they've landed in the middle of my path anyway. So I do what I have to do.