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Wild cats wrangled up in Edwards

Preston Utley/Vail DailyA pair of wild kittens captured on Thursday will be domesticated and adopted. Adult feral cats are spayed and neutered then placed on ranches and farms.
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EDWARDS , Colorado ” The wild kittens hid among red pipe fittings and wooden palettes.

Char Quinn skulked around the trailer, peering into dark voids, trying to pinpoint their position.

This was a good find. These young cats could be rehabilitated, their wildness drawn out of them, and eventually purr and be petted.

But now, they are feral. They scatter when people come near. They laze under buildings and behind stacks of pipes. They pussyfoot toward the food that’s been laid out for them.

The cats have proliferated here at the Kemp and Co. in Edwards, a construction supply yard that will soon be relocated to make way for a new condo-retail complex.

Cats are good at proliferating.

“In seven years, a female cat can have 400,000 descendants,” Quinn said.

Quinn, the curly-haired director of the local Humane Society, crept toward the kittens, which were under a trailer.

“It is nursing off of its mother,” she said, gazing into the nook.

She took a big metal cage and put it near the kittens. An alluring, open can of Fancy Feast, fish flavor, had been placed in the trap.

“They’re, like, 3 feet away from me,” she said softly.

The 8-week-old kitten emerged from the darkness. It loped among the palettes and pipes.

“Here it comes, here it comes,” Quinn said.

Then it backed away and disappeared under the shed.

“It’s like watching water boil,” said Trish McClure, a Kemp employee.

This was the third feral cat colony that the Humane Society had helped disband this year. It captures the cats, spays and neuters them and tests them for diseases.

If the cats are young, the society socializes them in so-called “pet halfway houses” ” that can take days or months ” and then gives them up for adoption. If they’re older, the Humane Society looks for ranches or farms where they can be barn cats and catch mice.

Rodent-killing barn cats work best in teams, said Marie Shipley, another Humane Society worker who helped Quinn.

“Three will work together to catch a large rat,” Shipley said.

The clowder of cats at Kemp had reached 30 at one point, said Chuck Compton, general manager of the Kemp and Co.

“They’re kind of like part of the family, if you will,” he said.

On Thursday, Quinn’s traps had caught two adult wild cats. She was taking them to a ranch in McCoy.

“We already got our quota for today,” she said.

Still, Quinn was aiming for those kittens. After a moment, they both reappeared. They slowly, slowly inched toward the trap and then pawed their way inside. One of them sniffed at the Fancy Feast.

Snap! The trap closed, and they were caught. The kittens furiously ran around the cage. Quinn and Shipley jumped up and down in jubilation.

“How perfect!” Quinn said. “We got them both!”

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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