WALTER KOPP holds Fluffy, a 1-year-old cat he and his wife Hadley took in as a kitten. Democrat photos by Shelly Thorene


Cat herding: A tale of feral misadventure

By From page A1 | August 15, 2014

This story was sent to us by one of our readers about the misadventures of Hadley and Walt Kopp and their feral friends. This first-hand account is provided with only minimal editing and was written by Hadley.

“As many of you know Walt and I have been trapping feral cats, taking them to an Outreach Center to be neutered and then we pick them up later in the day and bring them back home. Last month we trapped five cats, but we did not get mama cat, but this month we captured four, and among them was the mama. She was our prize catch because she is the mama of all cats.

“So, we take the four cats in to be neutered and pick them up at the usual time. We have three cages, one large and two small ones. We are driving along Missouri Flat Road when a pickup with two people start blowing their horn and banging on the outside of their truck. They are yelling, what I thought was, that the blanket over the cages had come off. So, thinking it was an old blanket I told Walter to continue on and leave it. The couple in the truck come to a stop and we pulled behind and the girl says we lost a cage. I look back and do not see any cages in the pickup bed of our truck. The gate on the pickup is down.

“I become hysterical and scream that we have killed the cats. Walt is in shock, makes a U-turn and we head back looking for cages and runned-over cats on the road. We come to an intersection and there are five cars, we asked one person, ‘Where are the cages and the cats?’ She tells us that a woman in a white van is taking them to a vet. (The large cage with two small cats did fall out.)

“I tell Walt to drive faster so we don’t lose her. He says he is driving as fast but he can’t drive and yell at the same time so I am yelling back at him to get a move on. We are screaming at each other as we follow her to a stoplight and drive up next to her van, heading right into the oncoming traffic. I ask her where are our cats and she says she is taking them to the vet and drives off. We follow her to Diamond Springs to a veterinary office and five cars converge on us. Seven people, all women, tell us the cats are in ‘bad shape’ and need a vet. We explain that the cats are fine they have just been neutered and the anesthesia has not worn off.

“The two small cages did not fall off the truck; I just couldn’t see them where I was sitting. The women check all the cats, making sure that we are telling the truth and are not going to just dump the cats off. One woman insists she will take the two small cats in the car and follow us home in Cameron Park. Walt is enraged by this time because we can take the cats home on my lap in our pickup and don’t need anyone to follow us home. She puts the kittens in her car and we caravan back to our house, all the time Walt is muttering, ‘Why does this happen to us?’

“We get home and mama cat seems fine. The other three small kittens look like they are dead. The woman leaves and we put all the cats in the large cage. We have a large fan in the garage and I bring out a small fan to cool them down. The kittens are lying down, their little paws stretched over their heads and they look like goners. I put food and water out and wait until midnight to make sure they are all right.

“I wake up early, feed and water them. After they are through we let them out. They are all fine. We just didn’t slam the back gate of the pickup so it closed and because of this we are spending the day resting and very rattled.”

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.


Dawn Hodson

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