Well, kids, my last feral cat is gone. Her name was Frost (is Frost?) and she was a calico. She lived in the shed next to the house and showed up twice a day for feeds, and while she wouldn't come anywhere near me, she'd sometimes act like she was going to get close enough to sniff my hand. Anyway, I haven't seen her since the beginning of June, and because she was so regular, I have to think she's probably really gone this time. Gone to where? Don't know. Fatal case of truck or stray dog or coyote, I expect, or maybe an illness that she couldn't fight off. Another time she disappeared for about a week and came back dragging a back foot. It seemed to get better by itself (which was a good thing, since good luck catching her, taking her to a vet, and then catching her again to get the cast removed). But I think I'd have heard from her by now if I was going to hear from her.
So my backyard menagerie, which once numbered twelve (count them, twelve) feral cats, is down to zero. Unless you count the orange guy, who lives a few houses away and comes by for
extra meals and some loving-on. There's also a couple of grey cats that happen by every now and again, but I'm completely without any squirrel patrols, and the big ugly scary bugs that more or less never came into the house are, uh, coming into the house. (And the internal cats are completely useless, by the way; they come over and stare at the bugs with great interest, but don't do a darn thing to kill them. Cats not being Buddhists, they could kill with impunity; me, I have to yell, "JOAN!!" and try to ignore the fact that Joan stomps on them, rather than catch them and take them outside.) Yesterday I bought twenty pounds of cat food and couldn't figure out why I was doing it. Then, this morning, when I found the bin of food on its side halfway across the deck with the lid partially unscrewed, I remembered: The raccoons.
Y'all might remember last summer's bout with the cute furry and dangerous little masked
denizens of the aminal kingdom. They're attracted by the cat food, of course, and since I wouldn't stop feeding the external cats just to get rid of the raccoons, they had a nice source of food all summer long. I hadn't seen any in quite a while, though the last encounter was particularly cute; this one hid behind the food bin, stuck a paw out and scooped food out of the food bowl, pulling it behind the food bin to chow down. As if he was invisible back there.
Anyway, I thought they'd moved on to greener pastures. Perhaps it's the absence of Frost, but The Raccoons Are Back, People. And they're polluting the waterer by washing cat food. So I took the seemingly necessary step of putting out a small dish of water next to the food bowl. Maybe they'd wash in that, and leave the waterer alone. As it is, I've become the local watering hole for half the block and I'm filling the waterer every two or three days. When Joan saw this, she said, "Jen, I get that you don't want to chase away the raccoons, but is it really necessary to put out a finger bowl? I mean, what's next? Cloth napkins and a sherbet appetizer?"
My dad called me last night. He and Mom are visiting relatives in North Dakota, and my aunt and uncle had been hearing strange chirruping noises from the basement at night. My uncle finally went down there with a flashlight and a baseball bat and found not a prowler with a speech impediment but four baby raccoons. He and my dad caught them one by one and relocated them outside, under the porch. When my dad tried to walk away from the last one, it crawled out and followed him. Yep, Dad had become Mom. Luckily, the Real Mom showed up and put a stop to this nonsense in a hurry. So you might say this ridiculous fondness for pesky wildlife runs in the family.
(By the way, my aunt and uncle are selling the house in which I spent the only really happy part of my formative years. I'd kill to keep it in the family. Can anybody lend me $1.8 million and a speedboat until my first runaway bestseller? Anybody? Hello?)