Charlie's a gentle soul and very smart. He eluded my traps many times. But this weekend, we had lots of help. A friend borrowed a drop trap from one of her friends. And when another friend tried to help me trap him with no luck, she came to Charlie's patch of woods and pulled the string on the trap to close it while he was inside. Yet another friend drove him to his early morning appointment at the spay/neuter clinic because, night person that I am, I was afraid I wouldn't wake up on time.
He could have gone to a closer clinic. But a fourth friend runs the one I chose. I trust her and the vet who does her surgeries to take good care of the cats while they're at the clinic. Besides, although she hadn't met him until Sunday, she is part of Charlie's community.
Community Cats 'Belong' To All Of Us
Years ago, free-roaming cats were called strays. People thought of them as homeless, and they were pretty much left to their own devices unless they were lucky enough to come across a kind human who was willing to give them daily meals.
But a lot has changed in the last 10 years or so. Now we trap/neuter/return because we know that's the most effective and humane solution to the feral cat "problem." And we no longer think of free-roaming cats as homeless. We realize they have homes in the woods behind our own homes, in shopping center parking lots and in the alleys of our cities.
Something else that has changed is the way we care for them. While just one person may feed a free-roaming cat or an entire colony, we've come to realize that they "belong" to the entire community, and it's the entire community's responsibility to keep an eye on them to make sure they're safe, healthy and not being a nuisance.