Thursday, October 20, 2011

Urban Not-So-Wildlife

The news stories about the guy in Ohio who let all of his exotic animals free and killed himself made me shake my head - what was he thinking?  When I decide to share my home with a small, domesticated furry being, I take that responsibility very seriously.  Folded Ear Cat would give me a rave review if you asked whether I keep her comfortable, cozy and well fed, with catnip toys to spare - that is when I'm not trying to brush a lumpy spot out of her fur and she's yelling like a banshee.

 Anyone collecting lions and tigers and bears will be facing expensive, long-term upkeep.  One would think it pretty evident that you don't bring an exotic animal home without some serious forethought, but perhaps not since there seem to be a fair amount of folks who see an adorable tiger cub and bring it home to live in their New York studio apartment.  No animal, no matter its size or the size it may become, should be brought home on a whim.

As my thoughts rambled on about wild- and not-so-wild life, there appeared a raccoon family who attempted to abuse my occasionally open door policy - to allow Folded Ear Cat a backyard frolic.  The matriarch of the raccoon family had her paw on the edge of the screen door before I spoke a less than welcoming word to her from my perch on the landing.  When I stepped to the door she hissed at me while her youngsters scattered.  Two of them wisely slipped under the fence while the third ran up into our plum tree.  Matriarch raccoon hissed at me from under the fence until I told her I would go back inside if she would kindly fetch her offspring and be gone.

Raccoons do in general seem to thrive in my edge of the city.  In a prior homestead I would have scandalized the neighbors (had they been looking out their windows in the wee hours) when I unthinkingly ran out into the yard in my flannel nightgown with broom in hand to shoo some partying raccoons off the roof.  What a terrible racket they were making with their claws scrabbling on the shingles and how irritated I was with their nocturnal roof dance.  I doubt they found me to be an intimidating specter in my bare feet and flapping gown, but my surprise arrival at least sent them further afield to continue their fun.

That was the house in the big trees where a housemate ill-advisedly fed some peanut butter to a squirrel, who then would appear at our sliding glass door and actually knock on the door to request more treats.  I know their tails are fluffy, their cheeks round and their eyes sparkly, but take my word for it - never feed a squirrel because they will take your moment of weakness and pummel you into submission. 

One such bright-eyed squirrel just held its ground and pierced me with a squinty eye the other day when I came to the door and suggested it move along.  Urban wildlife will not be cowed by pesky humankind.

You may wonder where Folded Ear Cat is when all this wildlife is passing through.  She considers her role to be that of indoor backup only.  She enjoys a good squirrel or bird observation, but the only creatures she will catch and eat are flies and spiders.  Most excellent fly and spider catcher she is, and who could ask for more?


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