In Honor of Patch

More than once, I’ve mentioned my friend who does Trap Alter and Release. Patch was THE matriarch of a colony that my friend has been trying to trap for quite a long time. Well, they finally got her.. but it looks like it was under her terms.

I give you, from my Friend Ron, a story In Honor of Patch

Although the day started with the fantastic news that Patch, the ultimate mom cat and most worthy trapping adversary ever, had finally been captured, I have sad news to share.

Heather and I received word this afternoon that Patch was extremely sick and unlikely to survive spaying; the vets wouldn’t even consider putting her under anesthesia in her condition. She had a serious upper respiratory infection, was bleeding from her nose, and had severe dental problems and a gum infection that was causing her teeth to fall out. She would have needed at least 2 weeks of antibiotics before they’d even attempt spaying – and there was no guarantee she’d be a candidate for – or survive – surgery at that point either.

Heather and I each spent quite some time on the phone with the vet and the vet techs and, after talking with Kate, the colony caretaker, we jointly made the difficult but appropriate decision to have the vet euthanize Patch to keep her from suffering a lingering death. Kate was devastated. Heather was pissed. I made the phone call – and then sat at my desk and cried. But we did what we had to do, for Patch’s sake.

Patch hated us trappers. We knew that and loved her for it. She beat us at every turn, avoiding – and often helping her kittens avoid – two different kinds of traps, assorted nets, and the ultimate cat trap, the custom-designed “Deck Platform Surrounded in Chicken Wire With a Custom Dual Door” trap created especially for Patch by Cathy and Deb. She basically chuckled at our efforts and went about her business as she always did – on her own terms. She knew our cars, our voices and our faces – and made sure that wherever we were, she and her kittens weren’t. She made us nuts. She made us respect her. She made us sit in the rain and cold at 7:00 on Sunday mornings trying to catch her. She made some damned nice kittens, despite our attempts to get her to do otherwise.

This past Sunday, Heather and I were shocked when Patch led her newest and final kitten, Champ, straight to Heather. She not only had never brought us a kitten before, she’d never let us see any of them before, moving them any time she thought we were getting too close. We thought she brought Champ out because he had a deformed leg and Patch, superb mom that she was, knew he would have an especially tough time surviving in a feral colony. And Champ was a champ, adjusting immediately to being adored and pampered and basically made much of, as was his due.

And I was even more shocked when I got a call early this morning saying that Patch had been trapped. Heather, Kate and I were ready to break out the champagne and celebrate! But Heather told me she had a bad feeling – – and when I was being honest, I had to admit I felt it too. After three years of eluding us, Patch’s simply walking into a trap was too easy. So I guess neither Heather nor I was especially surprised when Heather got that call from the vet.

Ultimately, I think Patch brought Champ to us not because he was deformed, but because she knew she was dying. She wanted us, the people who had taken all the kittens that had come before him, to take this last one, too. On some level, she knew that, wherever we took her babies, we took good care of them. She may have hated us, but I like to think she respected us as much as we respected her. And when it all finally got too much, and she was too tired, she made her final leap of faith and walked into a trap, trusting we’d do what was best for her. I believe we deserved her trust. I hope she believes we did, too.