Two weeks ago, we accidentally caught a fishing cat.
The cage triggered, because the wire which we used to keep the door open, had snapped. But before I go into too much detail, let’s go over a few things. Things that must be done before trapping a cat.
Ever heard of the term “curiosity killed the cat”? That definitely doesn’t apply to small wildcats. Fishing cats, for example, are definitely more cautious than curious, and that’s why trapping one is so difficult. Therefore, when setting a trap in a new location, the trap should be left open for a few weeks. Keeping the trap open, helps the wildlife in the area get used to the presence of the unusual object in their habitats. The cage starts to smell like the habitat and starts to ‘blend’ into its surroundings. After a while, touch wood, it becomes just another feature of the area.
Having a trap set up just the way we want it, really doesn’t help much. There’s no point in all the fuss, if we have no idea what animals visit the cage. So we set up our camera in front of the cage. The cameras are checked every few days, to see if our target has been acquired. Once we have sufficient proof that a cat has been visiting the cage, we trigger the cage. And wham! Cat caught!
But that’s not what happened here.
I got a dozen frantic calls from the family, at 5am one morning, to say that a cat was caught. I knew we were getting ready to catch a cat, but this was odd, and in my confusion I frantically called Fi and Maduranga to get ready. This I might add was also one of those times when Fi thought that keeping her phone inside her bag the night before was a good idea, so calling her to get ready took almost 15 minutes of the 30 minutes allocated for frantically getting ready.
Once at the house, we stumbled (neither of us are morning people!) our way through the garden, and came face to face with the caged cat.
He was massive! I thought Wadduwa (his story will be posted shortly) was huge. But this cat made him look like a baby. I think all the ducks and chickens helped him pack on the pounds. I mean, he had a double chin! I then had a look at the cage, to see what could have caused it to trigger. Usually, to keep the trapdoor open, we loop a wire through the door, and on to the cage roof. This secures the door from closing. However, it seems that because of the constant rain, the wire we had used had worn down, causing it to snap when the cat put its weight on the pressure plate. I made a mental note to get a padlock next time.
After taking some photographs, wetting him down a bit and giving him some water, we went in search of a place to release him. The house is located in a beautiful habitat, so finding a release point wasn’t hard. Paddy fields and wetland surround this neighbourhood, and there was a large patch of urban forest that intersected the houses.
The cage was brought up, and all onlookers were asked to get back. The Mohammed Bin Zayed film crew who were with us that day set up their camera in front of the cage before standing behind us.
It was finally time to release the cat, who was curiously, quite calm during this whole operation. He hissed at us once, and that was only when we had to loop the cord around the trap door to open it. Apart from that, he sat like a content duck.
When the door came up, he trotted out, never looking back.