Strange Dancers

As you may know from some of my posts, the Crankee Yankee and I feed the stray cats and also “the outdoorsies” in our neighborhood. The “outdoorsies” include our resident skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. And also apparently, some very persistent raccoons. We have a two-tiered work table in the back yard; the squirrels, chipmunks and birds feed on the seeds and cracked corn we leave on top, along with a pan of water.

The shelf below it is for the cats’ kibble and water. On the ground under the table is where the skunks get their food and water. As they are not climbers, this works out well.

Since I’m the night owl; the Crankee Yankee goes to bed much earlier than me—I do the last feeding of the day, which of course means our cats, then the strays and outdoorsies. Before I go to bed, I put out a small bowl of water and a bowl of kibble on the front deck landing where there is a wide shelf about 4′ up from the floor; perfect for the cats to jump up and get a late night snack.

However, the raccoons found out early on about this arrangement, and are not shy about helping themselves. They usually come from the roof over the garage, then drop down on the deck shelf like Navy Seals from a helicopter. They help themselves to the kibble, and of course, since they constantly wash their paws (call it raccoon OCD), they make a mucky mess of the bowl of water.

Since I know that these opportunistic little buggers will eat almost anything, I keep an eye out for them before I go to bed, hoping that they don’t scare off the cats that are too shy to eat out back.

So, imagine my surprise when I looked out of the window to the deck the other night to see a raccoon AND a skunk, both intent on getting at the food. There they were, each with their own agenda. The skunk couldn’t climb, but ┬áhe could smell, so he kept nosing into each corner of the deck, trying to find either a ramp or fallen food.

The raccoon, on the other hand, knew enough to stay clear of the skunk. He skulked around the stairs, clearly hoping that the skunk would give up and toddle off to the back yard. But each time it looked like the skunk was going to get off the landing, he didn’t.

The raccoon tried jumping up on the landing, but as soon as he made a noise, the skunk went looking for him. The raccoon knew enough to give the skunk a wide berth, but he also badly wanted to eat up the kibble.

So for a few minutes, they were like two awkward square dancers trying to dance to the same tune, but failing badly. The skunk would do an allemande left, and the raccoon would do a single file promenade, and neither could manage a do-si-do together.

Finally they both walked away; the skunk to the back yard for the ground floor feeding, and the raccoon to other more skunk-less places. Later on, one of the cats showed up and finished off the bowl of food on the deck.

What we pay for in cat and skunk food, we get back in sheer entertainment!