Trina Machacek: The learning curve of trapping cats

Trina Machacek

Trina Machacek

I find it amazing that on the path of life there are still things for me to learn. Have you ever seen that funny comic or saying where one person is trying to get something over on another person and the other person looks at the first one and slyly with a sideway glance says, “Yes, but I know stuff.” Well over my life and all that I have been involved in, “I know stuff.” But! Yes, an always learning “but.” Along comes life and a new something is learned. I hope I never finish learning. Which brings me to this week’s school session. Trapping. Cats.

There are many trappers in this area. Learning early American history, we were taught about trappers of the northeast where beavers were a trapping staple. How else could Davey Crocket get that marvelous hat!

In the West the beavers are few and far between because we live in the desert. Here the trappings are more carnivorous than what I considered such pretty little critters as beavers. No, we have “eat your face off” animals here. Bobcats. Coyotes. Lions. Foxes. Even bears. Lots of dogs trained for hunting and trapping too.

Thinking of animals that “eat your face off” when you are dead, I had to go about trapping feral cats around my house. I really don’t know if cats eat your face off when you’re dead. It’s something I heard or read, probably in a Stephen King novel or the like.

Either way I found myself needing to learn trapping. With live traps. Something I have never done and was more than a little apprehensive to tackle. That apprehension of course never stopped me before. Besides at least I didn’t have to do the stuff real trappers do after they trap their bounty. No, all I had to do was get them to the vet for, well you know. Snip. Snip. You should know that some of the cats I had been able to catch by hand but there were those that skittered as they knew what was coming, hence the traps came into play.

When I picked up the traps, six of them, I was given a short lesson on how to set them. Well by the time I was ready to trap I had forgotten so off to Google I went to learn. Pretty straight forward, I must say, so out I went.

I set all six, bating with canned cat food and thought it would be a bit of a wait until I captured my prey. As I set out the last trap, I heard SNAP. I caught a cat. Unfortunately, it was one that had already been snipped. She was very happy though to eat the plate of food after she calmed down a bit. Then another SNAP. Another capture, of another pre-snipped kitty. The third though. The third SNAP produced one that needed the operation.

I have to say it was quite a busy morning. I had traps snapping and cats meowing and things going in all directions. Quite an amusing event at Casa Machacek for the rest of the day and into the early evening.

The cats that didn’t need to be caught found that they could get in, eat the goodies set in the traps and then they would be let out. Smart dickens. Some of them were trapped three times! Finally, after a time I had rounded up five that needed to be snippety snipped.

I took cats some 90 miles away for the surgery as they have a program for “fixing” free of charge. I transferred cats from traps to carriers and kept them on my back porch for two days. I thought it would take longer to catch the ones I needed to catch so I started a few days before the appointed time to take them in. I think I am done now with all the little fuzz balls around here. I learned a few little nuggets along the way.

No way would I want to trap animals up in the mountains around here. It was all I could do to set traps and run my six trap, trap line in my yard. Especially because trappers trap in the winter. I’m very happy that I live in an area where there are people who are willing to offer themselves, their time and services to keep the animal population under control. Something that I am embarrassed to say got away from me last fall.

Thanks to Cindy Beutel of Healthy Paws of Eureka, Dr. Robin Eldridge of Eldridge Vet Clinic and Andrew of the shelter in Ely for their giving and kindness. Spay and neuter. Just saying.

Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her books are available wherever you buy books or email her at to buy signed copies.


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