He lives in the shadows. The net closes, the trap is sprung, but he always gets away. Nobody can catch him. Nothing can contain him.

He is Jason Bourne, anti-hero of the Bourne Identity movies, the man who outwits and evades the authorities at every turn.

He is also Jason Bourne, tom cat and general feline about town, who frequents Taupō's town centre, who will accept food but not society's rules, who does what he wants and will never, ever, be tamed.

He is fed by the staff at WSP Opus and Tuaropaki Trust, who leave him food on their building's deck. He ranges across the rooftops of the town centre and prowls its streets, from McDonald's in the south to the Taupō RSA in the north. He is well-known as one of the town centre's cats.

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But about a year ago Jason met with a horrible accident - the most likely explanation is that he had a tangle with a car. His tail was broken and degloved - a nasty injury.

Those who fed Jason and took an interest in his welfare knew he needed veterinary treatment. His friends at WSP Opus and Tuaropaki Trust contacted the Taupō SPCA, who set out to catch Jason.

They tried, and they tried. They caught 18 cats. But never the elusive Jason. Too wily to be trapped and too skittish to be tamed, he always got away.

Then Donna Wright, who is a volunteer with CARE Community Animal and Rescue Education and works in the area, teamed up with WPS Opus staff to have a go. They too caught a cat, but it was clear that Jason was too smart for the standard cat trap.

So they tried a different trap, with a pressure-activated plate. Jason's food was placed progressively nearer until finally it was inside it. Then Jason was fed inside the trap for several days to get him used to it. Finally, the trap was set. The next time Jason headed in, it slammed shut. The uncatchable cat had been caught.

Jason was whisked up to VetOra Taupō where his mangled tail was amputated and he was desexed. Then Donna took him home for a week's recuperation. Jason had the run of a large cat cage, a litter box and plenty of food and he was happy enough left alone but hissed at anyone who came near and clearly missed the freedom of his normal life.

ROTORUA DAILY POST
17 May, 2018 10:46am
4 minutes to read
Jason Bourne keeps a wary distance in his cage from CARE volunteer Donna Wright, who looked after him for a week while he recovered from the amputation of his damaged tail.
Jason Bourne keeps a wary distance in his cage from CARE volunteer Donna Wright, who looked after him for a week while he recovered from the amputation of his damaged tail.

Donna says Jason has at some point been a pet because he didn't mind having people around, but would slink away if they got too close. He was in good condition and the plan was to re-release him back into his old stomping ground, with arrangements made for him to be fed but without the ability to keep reproducing.

The enforced convalescence was hard on everyone, but Jason appeared to be making a good recovery until his tail wound split open a week after surgery and he had to return to VetOra to have it stitched back up.

He returned to Donna's home to wait and recover once more. But he was plotting. When Donna got up the next morning, Jason was gone. Despite being in post-op recovery, despite being in a locked cage, he had lived up to his name, busting out of the house and going to ground.

Four days later, he had made his way back to his old territory in the Taupō town centre, where Donna spotted him outside her workplace on Tuesday morning. Jason Bourne is a free agent once more.

Donna says now that Jason is recovered and desexed she hopes he will be left in peace.

"He's a community cat, he's owned by the community. He's not to be picked up and euthanased, he's got people feeding him and we'll take care of any further vet's bills - if we can catch him."