Butterscotch, the orange tabby cat who roamed the streets of Brandon with a bug trap on his head, has been caught. His saga had the makings of a dramatic made-for-TV movie, which ended happily early Saturday morning.
On July 23, Butterscotch was first spotted in Brandon with his head stuck in a contraption that was first believed to be a bird feeder.
For about two and a half weeks, the cat frequented the south end of the city, avoiding traps set for him by the Brandon and Area Lost Animals (BALA) rescue crew and Brandon Animal Control.
On Friday night, Toni Gramiak, the coordinator of BALA, said she came face-to-face with Butterscotch sitting on the wall of a sealed walkway. With Gramiak in front of the wall and Animal Control behind, Butterscotch still managed to escape.
"Little did we know that our biggest challenge wasn’t just going to be that he had his face covered affecting his sense of smell and sight," Gramiak said.
Allegedly, an adult man in the neighbourhood was trying to sabotage the cat’s capture, making the search for an evasive Butterscotch all the more difficult. The man would shine bright lights near the traps intended for the cat, sometimes damaging and knocking them over if he could, said Gramiak. The man’s intentions remain unknown; he’s declined requests for interviews.
"A lot of the info we had we weren’t putting out there because we do believe he was monitoring the (news) sites. He was following, he was finding us, there were mysterious things going on," Gramiak said.
BALA told area residents to not approach Butterscotch if they spotted him, but to instead call animal control authorities.
Volunteers worked around the clock monitoring two to three traps that were set for Butterscotch during the cat’s two and a half week escapade. Gramiak said she got an average of two hours of sleep per night while trying to find the tabby.
The traps were camouflaged in trees, leaves and grass, and contained food which volunteers hoped would entice Butterscotch. The winning combination proved to be tuna, two kinds of cat food with catnip sprinkled inside and an accompanying trail of tuna juice that led up to the trap.
Dr. Jennifer Beckwith, one of the veterinarians that tended to Butterscotch when he was taken to the Grand Valley Animal Clinic Saturday morning, said the cat was in good spirits considering what he had been through. The bug trap on his head was about 30 centimetres long and 10-15 centimetres wide, she said.
"He’s recovering well from the ordeal, he’s of course a little bit lighter now that he doesn’t have a bug trap on his head," Beckwith said, jokingly.
"The problem was the plastic ring. He’d stuck his head through the top of it and had managed to basically break it apart, but the ring was still hanging off his neck...our big concern was he could have been hung up on something and strangled himself."
The bug trap wasn’t blocking Butterscotch’s mouth, so he was able to eat and drink. He wasn’t emaciated or dehydrated when brought into the clinic, said Beckwith. Gramiak said that BALA and Animal Control knew Butterscotch was able to eat and drink, but didn’t want this information to leak to the public in case someone unsavoury were to find out and harm the cat.
After he was caught around 7 a.m. on Saturday, Butterscotch was taken to the clinic where he was put under anesthetic to surgically remove the bug trap from his head. While he was put under, the vets also neutered Butterscotch. Beckwith said the cat didn’t have a microchip or tattoo identifying him, meaning he is likely a stray.
Butterscotch will stay in the clinic until he’s fully recovered from the anesthetic and then will be taken to the pound as is common procedure with all animals brought in by Animal Control, said Beckwith. "Any time we have an animal that’s caught by Animal Control, they go to the pound for 72 hours."
After three days, arrangements have been made so that Butterscotch can be taken in by the Funds for Furry Friends program, which fosters and adopts animals into loving homes. Gramiak said Butterscotch seemed to be coming around to socializing on Saturday afternoon after his surgery, though he was still technically sedated.
"He’s getting used to my voice, but he’s just getting over his sedation," she said. "I’m going to give him a couple of days to reveal his true self and then he will go into a foster home if necessary."
While Butterscotch is feral, Gramiak and Beckwith both said they’ve dealt with worse-behaved cats before. Gramiak can see Butterscotch getting scooped up and adopted soon.
"It’s got to be the perfect family because a lot of people might want him just because he’s Butterscotch. He’s been through enough."
In the meantime, the quasi-celebrity cat will learn to live with humans.
"When I close my eyes with him, he closes his eyes too, so it seems like he’s learning to relax," said Gramiak. "I’ll be really happy when I have him purring."