Stakeout To Catch a Runaway

I needed donuts and coffee quick!

According to all the 1970’s cop shows I watched as a kid, it helps while on a stakeout. Keeping a watchful eye out for the “perp”, I anxiously awaited her capture so I could make the call to get an ID.

You know I’m all about slapping on a sticker badge and calling myself Sheriff of the yard. All that Starsky and Hutch viewing was going to pay off.

yard corner

Entrance to the hideout in an overgrown thorny corner

Each day at dusk, the kids and I would spot her and two other gang members sneaking across the yard by the fence line in a covert fashion. Over the past two months, she’s been seen stealing food from all corners of the neighborhood while slyly alluding capture.

No matter how quietly I opened the sliding glass door to the backyard, she heard it and bolted to the safety of the new hideout in the conservation area behind my house. Thorns and overgrown brush that once stopped the teenagers from using is as a path are no deterrent for these seasoned adventurers. Having the time of her life, she isn’t ready to give up this freedom she’s been enjoying during her mid-life crisis.

alligators welcome

Old decaying fence gate leaves a huge opening welcoming critters.

My home sits on what was swampland thirty years ago. Just beyond the useless fence is a rough conservation area complete with a small body of water and a ten foot alligator that I occasionally hear crying out for a mate. His cries sound more like an angry lion so I don’t know how that’s working out for him.

This is also home to countless rattlesnakes, racoons, and armadillos. Welcome to wild kingdom. Hold on while I change into some Jack Hanna safari gear.

the perp


The Runaway

The perp: Lily. My friend’s beautiful black cat

Answers to: Nothing.

Afraid of: Everything that isn’t adventure – especially fake animal trappers.

Problem: She’s hanging out with 2 other black cats. Who doesn’t want to stay with their friends?

Doesn’t she just look like she is up to something?

The Sighting

I know it is bad luck to have a black cat cross your path but what if you have 4 wandering around your yard. (I’m throwing my next door neighbor’s black cat into the count here.) Is that exponential?

My daughter spotted the gang first, so I ran outside and called Lily’s name. There she sat at the opening to the hangout looking at me. Attempts to coax her to the bowl of dog food I had in my hand only led her to take a small step toward me. She nervously looked over her shoulder as if to say, “I’ve gotta go…my friends are waiting and I’m going to miss the mouse hunt.” Eventually she disappeared.

The Animal Catcher 2000

Animal trapper 2000 - When you are looking for a wildlife adventure.This sighting led to the trap being set at my house. Before the PETA people rage on, it is a humane trap. Baited and set, we waited until dusk when the gang sets out on their nightly escapades.


Coming to check on the trap, my friend announced “We have a cat, but I need a flashlight.” It was very dark in the corner of the yard, and the cat was hissing. A few feet away in a pile of brush we heard a lot of commotion and guessed her friends must have been freaking out over the situation and hatching a plan for springing her from the trap. I think I caught a glimpse of a hat with a “no cat left behind” motto.

Turns out it was the wrong cat. She was released and the trap was reset.

Wait that’s not a cat

An hour later I broke into the emergency hurricane kit supplies to get a working flashlight and ventured out to check the trap. Something was growling and moving frantically in the cage. Shining the light, I was met with the glowing eyes of a wild animal. A raccoon. He wasn’t much bigger than a baby, but he snarled and growled as I approached.

At this point I questioned my choice of trapping attire which was shorts and flip flops and imagined it being released only to turn and bite my leg.

Not having opened the trap myself, I had to fidget a bit to figure it out. Meanwhile he jumped at me in an attempt to bite me, and I was thankful there was metal between us. I’m not sure who was more scared.

Never attempt negotiations with a wild animal. In a sweet, calm voice I explained to him that I was getting him out of there. He wasn’t listening and continued jumping at me while growling which cause me to jump back every time and scream. We continued this dance for several minutes.


They look so sweet in the daytime.

Finally I managed to open the door, and he raced to the conservation area like a bolt of lightning. A blur into the dark night. Figuring he learned his lesson, I reset it and returned to the house. Releasing a wild animal from a cage is an adrenaline rush, and my heart was pumping.

Twenty minutes later I was releasing him AGAIN. This time he was REALLY ANGRY. I had the door propped open and he didn’t even notice. I shined the light in his face and explained the door was open after lecturing him on not learning his lesson the first time. Being the rebel he was, he continued to hiss and growl…then it changed to a babyish feel-sorry-for-me whine. At this point I had to guess he didn’t understand English, baby talk, or terror-induced screaming. Once he finally turned his head to see he was free, he was gone in a flash.

Not being able to handle anymore heart throbbing excitement, I shut down the operation for the evening.

I’m switching to day trapping only. It’s scary walking into my backyard at night, and I just can’t take the “guess what’s in the trap” game again. My friend said so far they have caught many cats, an armadillo, and now you can add racoons to the list.

Oh Lily…just go home.

Back to duty.
Trapper Melinda

PS: Update: After catching the third raccoon (this time a bigger one), Operation Find Lily was officially cancelled due to I might have a heart attack if I have to release another wild animal. You won’t see me working at Busch Gardens anytime soon.

PPS: It could have been worse. It could have been a relative of the cat, the bobcat which has been seen several times in my yard.


  1. It’s a conspiracy. See the black cat gang is smart. They KNOW you are trying to trap them. They are bribing the racoon to get into the trap. Having seen you in action, they know you are harmless. What they are figuring is that by sending the other animals into your trap you will eventually give up on trying to trap them. It’s a complete conspiracy ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This story made my morning. Especially because I live in a swamp, too ๐Ÿ™‚
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  3. Wow, taking on feral cats, raccoons and potentially bobcats, too…you are officially a bad-ass. Maybe you can come over and kill this centipede that keeps eluding me. Damn creatures!

    Anyway, there’s no way I would go release a raccoon from a trap unless I had a suit of Iron Man armor on. I suspect you know some sort of ninja animal defense method or Crocodile Dundee method of calming the thing down.

    As for Lily, I suspect she’s made a new life for herself free from the oppression of the litterbox. I hope she hasn’t been de-clawed..!

    Good luck with future wrangling ๐Ÿ™‚
    John recently posted..Monday Comics Interlude and POLLMy Profile

    • LOL a centipede. I carried a Daddy Long Legs out of one of the kid’s rooms by it’s leg to take it outside and they were freaking out I was touching it. That’s about as animal trapping as I get.

  4. That sounds hilarious! Not the part about an alligator living in your backyard though, that’s beyond horrifying.
    Megan -Best of Fates recently posted..My Own Awkward, Lazy, Belated Project LifeMy Profile

  5. Just be glad you didn’t catch a skunk in that trap like uncle Ray did once! LOL

    • Yikes! I didn’t even consider that being a possibility. I probably would have discovered that too late and been writing that while covered in tomato juice. I wouldn’t even attempt that one. Bobcat would be better.

  6. I want to take a vacation to your yard!! I am freaking out over this whole story. That raccoon would’ve given me a heart attack. Or those raccoonS, I should say. The alligator sounds like a lion?? Ahhhhh!!! The bobcat? AHHHHH!!! Yeah, Lily would be on her own if she were mine. Kelley’s latest post: 7 Reasons I’d Be A Horrible Contestant on The Bachelor

  7. Allan Douglas

    Answers to: Nothing. — Of course: shes a CAT.

    Dogs think, “I have someone who gives me food and water cares for me and loves me, they must be God.” Cats think, “I have someone who gives me food and water cares for me and loves me, *I* must be God.”

    I’m glad you weren’t mauled by the raccoon brigade!

  8. Allan Douglas

    P.S. LOVE the mug shot!

  9. OMG. I’m still laughing out loud at the whole “no cat left behind” reference. Hilarious & terrifying at the same time. Good stuff, girl!
    stephanie recently posted..The one where I โ€˜unsuccessfullyโ€™ shove a pill down my catโ€™s throatMy Profile

  10. Mitchell Allen

    Ha-ha, you wrote mugshot, thereby invoking Seinfeld. Cool!
    Anyhoo, the black cat path mathematics are simple:

    Cat + Path = Bad IF and ONLY IF you trip over it.

    This does have one exception and therefore, should be rewritten as

    {x in Cats:x bobcat}

    Other than that, you’re golden. On the other hand, trapping the critters leads to bad karma. ๐Ÿ™‚



  11. Sounds like you live in the area of Florida that I lived in before I moved back to Illinois! You never knew what was going to come in our backyard. I had to pull and armadillo out of my pool once.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I now follow you on twitter, facebook and get your emails ๐Ÿ™‚ I like your writing. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Paula recently posted..Baked Mac and Cheese #RecipeMy Profile

    • EEK armadillos are so gross. I didn’t think that as much until my friend pointed out they are large rats. I love your recipe blog…going back for some more dinner ideas. Glad you are honest and say…ok this was awful. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Funny story. Isn’t it a herd of cats? Never heard of a group of cats referred to as a gang before. Anyway, this was a nice post to read and a welcome break from all the blogging tips posts I have been reading this morning.
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  13. You kept catching raccoons; what, are they that stupid? How funny a story this one was; I’m actually surprised you caught the first cat because I thought they were too smart to fall for something like that, curious or not. The cat you were trying to catch; now there’s the brains in the forest. ๐Ÿ™‚
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  14. Funny. Well done.

  15. If all this things are true then I think it’s kinda scary, but exciting in a way too. This made my day.
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  16. So let me get this straight. You live precariously close to rattlesnakes and alligators yet you still live there? On purpose?

    You NEED to start a nature show. Like “Melinda vs. Wild” or something like that. It’d be vlogging gold. Especially if you managed to snag a gator in one of those traps.

    Should you do this, I expect a handcrafted gator belt in thanks.
    Greg – Telling Dad recently posted..Plateau of Mathematical LearningMy Profile

    • I love the alligators…but I admire from across the pond. If I caught one I would call the pros. ๐Ÿ™‚
      If your belt arrives with the JCPenney tag still on it, that was just to throw off the authorities.

  17. Hey Melinda,
    That’s time post is some how funny cat is my favourite pet that’s why I like to post on that the black cat is looking cool :O
    Rizwan Sultan recently posted..Symptoms of Crohns DiseaseMy Profile

  18. I’ve lold, lol..what kind of yard do you have over there? Its like freaking Avatar!
    And here I was thinking my yard is pretty wild because I have a cat, 2 dogs and a family of hedgehogs…
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  19. Aw I do hope you find the cat! My cat Arthur went missing two years ago but thankfully turned up within 5 days although he did have a broken leg! He’s all healed now though bless him.

    I hope you don’t find any more wild animals in your search for the little kitty!
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  20. LOL! Love the thought! Thanks a lot for sharing this! ๐Ÿ™‚
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  21. I agree with Megan. I couldn’t get the ten-foot alligator out of my mind, and was sure he was going to make another appearance later in the post. I’m glad he didn’t. I love the descriptions of you trying to get the raccoon out of the trap.
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  22. This is nice. It looks so exciting. I agree with Megan.
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  23. I really hope that if you try catching the cat again with that trap that you don’t catch a skunk. It is not so easy to release a trapped skunk. I watched my brother try once and it did not go so well for him. He stunk for at least a week>

  24. Main reason racoons are dangerous is because, when southern states racoons were transferred to the northern states to re-populate areas, they carried with them rabies. It’s uncommon, but cases of rabies have been reported from racoon bites.
    I learnt that when I was looking up rabies in wikipedia.
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  25. Our family loves animals of all kinds, but have a bit of a problem with neighbors who feed feral cats. As with any wild animal, when the food supplies are abundant, feral cats have huge litters of kittens which eventually grow up and will also need to be fed.
    Alana C. Donovan recently posted..No last blog posts to return.My Profile

  26. Do feral kitties live good lives? The Washington Post asked that question last week in a story that examined the practice of controlling feral cat populations by trapping cats, spaying or neutering them, and then releasing them back into their former home environments (itโ€™s often called Trap-Neuter-Return or TNR).
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  27. The County provides traps for citizens to catch stray dogs or cats. Due to the high demand for traps, it may be ten days or more before a trap is delivered. Animal Care will set a trap for wild animals such as raccoons, opossums, and squirrels if the wild animal is damaging your property or is a threat to humans. Only the use of humane traps is permitted.
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  28. Great article Ireally enjoyed reading your post .
    Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚
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  29. It can be fun to watch a squirrelโ€™s antics out in your yard, but when squirrels are nesting and breeding inside your walls, gnawing through your structure and infesting your home or business with parasites, itโ€™s time to get rid of the squirrels. We offer small cage live traps for rent, and we also offer coaching services to help you set the traps, bait them, and monitor them properly. It is important to note that the squirrel you trapped may have left a litter of babies behind, which will die and rot in your building unless they are removed. Our professional trappers are skilled at seeking out and removing all nuisance wild animals, including their babies, repairing the damage they caused to your structure, installing blockers and properly decontaminating the site. They can also coach you through these procedures if you prefer to do it yourself.
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