It’s been two weeks since I began my attempts at safely and humanely capturing the stray kittens around my home.

Before that period, I grew used to the sounds of animals in the woods, as well as those across the road. I often get a divine view at sunset almost every night, of a troupe of deer gracefully strolling around the crabapple trees and past my living room window.

I really must emphasize how close they get to the window, it’s astonishing. There was a moment where I was lucky enough to wake up after a midday nap and just see a doe peering in from a few feet away.

From owls, skunks, usual pestering squirrels to the annoying mouse and delightful meadow birds, it was per the norm as most nightlife went, that is, until I finally saw the first kitten.

I have a mudroom adjacent to the kitchen, and a great window looks into said mudroom. I could see the USPS delivery person coming up the driveway before they’d even see me.

While I was halfway through making a new pot of tea, I heard scratching and the tumble of furry paws. Normally that would cause me to roll my eyes and groan. I hate resetting those old, vintage mouse traps my dad provided me; mostly I hated the chore out of laziness.

When I went to the door to see if it was a mouse or just a really confused grey squirrel, I saw this adorable, black and white tuxedo kitten stare back at me, before quickly retreating behind the wardrobe. There’s enough space back there where it found comfort at night. I think the heat is less intense in that dark corner as well.

From what I can tell, she (I’m assuming it’s a she, as my mind already fixated on the name Trixie) is old enough to eat solid foods, but still very small. Seven weeks, at least. I worried for a minute if her mother was nowhere to be around. After cooking some tiny strips of chicken and leaving them out for her, I started concocting a plan to safely catch her and bring her to the shelter.

Since meeting this kitten two weeks ago, I’ve caught glimpses of a grey kitten the same size, and eventually their dark grey mother.

As a copy editor, one of my many joys is editing and publishing the “Lost, Found and Looking” column that Pope Memorial Humane Society in Thomaston submits on a weekly basis. I’ve seen so many friendly, furry faces each week, and each have such wonderful stories and personalities.

Am I gassing up the shelter in my own column? Yes, yes I am.

In one of their submissions, the shelter staff mentions that we are still in the midst of ‘kitten season,’ meaning that many feral female cats will have many litters this season alone.

While that all may seem natural, having a domestic species out in the wild isn’t. In that sense, it’s not healthy for them, nor their litters. While spaying and neutering helps, so does coaxing wild/feral cats to at least be working cats, which are felines that live in barns/sheds and kills pests for a reward of food and shelter.

With that mindset, I rented a humane trap from Pope Memorial, bought some salmon pate, and waited eagerly for any of the three felines.

In the four days before setting the humane trap, they would mill around the patio and behind the wardrobe.

After setting the humane trap with salmon pate? Nothing. Nada. Not even a curious sniff.

Two pate cans and a week and a half passed, and I dejectedly returned the trap to the shelter. They had some helpful tips on setting out some fresh water and maybe getting a crate to crawl into, but I don’t have much space in my mudroom to place a crate, not without tumbling over it on my way to work.

It wasn’t until just barely a day after the trap removal, I saw the little black and white kitty again. I was cooking up some dinner at the stove, and just by instinct, I looked over to the dark mudroom, and sure enough, she’s staring back with gleaming green eyes before bolting behind the wardrobe.

Unfortunately, my constantly appearing out in the backyard and mudroom scared off the mother cat and her kittens across the road, towards the neighbor’s property. I haven’t seen them since, but I hold out hope that another townie would see them near their home, try and help catch them and bring them to the shelter.

In lighter news, I recently went to the Pope Memorial Humane Society’s volunteer orientation Aug. 10. After experiencing firsthand their helpfulness and generosity with the adoption of my grandfather’s newest canine family member, Cody, I’ve been looking forward to volunteer information for weeks.

Sure enough, they went above and beyond with both their informational presentation and their tour of the shelter grounds. Though it’s heart-wrenching to see so many worthy animals without a home, it’s also exciting to potentially interact with so many sweet souls. And since I’m renting my home and cannot have pets, this is a perfect compromise for me to get my daily/weekly fix of familiar care.

I must also point out that I was very pleased at seeing how large the turnout was for eager volunteers, all from different backgrounds as pet owners or pet enthusiasts.

If, in any chance, you read this and consider potentially volunteering at your local animal shelter, I would gladly twist your arm to do so! For a few months, I hesitated, thinking that it would take up so much weekend free time, but the orientation proved me wrong, showing that its well worth investing. And even if you can’t volunteer, shelters always appreciate any forms of donations, from money to cleaning supplies, pet toys, and pet food.

More importantly, I would encourage people like myself who are renting in a No-Pet home who miss enjoying have a fur-baby to snuggle with or keep company, because this is a great investment of both time and familiar passion, for the good of both animal and future pet owner.

Emma Testerman is The Courier Gazette’s copy editor. She currently resides somewhere in the back woods, often mistaken for a cryptid.