Cuteness Always Wins

The Crankee Yankee and I have been feeding stray cats and skunks for over ten years. There is a two-tiered old work table out in the backyard near the bird feeder with its own “caste” system. The top level is where we spread seeds and cracked corn for the squirrels and birds. The middle level is where the cats have their kibble and water, and the bottom (that is, on the ground under the table) has food and water for the skunks.

We also put food and water out under the Crankee Yankee’s work table in the driveway for any of the stray cats who are too shy to go into the back yard. This front-and-back-yard cafeteria has worked well over the years.

We never know if these cats actually have a home and are just out scrounging, or if they really are homeless. But we don’t assume anything, and every creature who is hungry can count on a meal at our house. In fact, this is how we came to adopt our big yellow tiger cat, Tinker, and our crooked-tail tuxedo cat, Plumpy Nut.

However, there are also raccoons, who will eat anything. They are devious little buggers, and they can figure ways to open trash cans, etc.; anything to find free food. Naturally they help themselves to the front and back yard food (the cats have since learned to show up early before the coons eat up everything).

Recently, we have seen two new cats in the neighborhood, a white cat with orange splotches and another white cat with gray and black tiger spots. They wouldn’t let us near them, but it was clear that they were hungry. So we began putting food and water up on our landing so that they could jump up and eat; which they did.

It was a fine arrangement for us all until the raccoons sniffed out the new feeding station. The other night I was writing a post just after midnight, and heard a loud BANG outside. I went out to check, and there was Mama coon and four kits on the porch. They had tipped over the new cats’ food and the water and were having a fine time gobbling everything up.

The “bang” had come from one of them knocking over a long thin metal pole that had been propped up against the deck wall. I picked it up to brandish it at them to scare them off. That worked for everyone but the smallest raccoon baby. He looked up at me and put his little paws on either side of the pole I was holding, as if to invite me to play with him.

Well—what was I going to do; hit him with it? Of course not. So I said (in my best mother raccoon voice) “scram, little buddy. Go on home with your mama and your brothers and sisters. You can eat out in the backyard.” I swear that he winked at me before he waddled off.

So cuteness won that time. I had a mess to clean up, and I found a better spot to put the new cats’ food and water; far away from our landing. They too will figure out that they should eat in the daylight before the coon clean-up committee shows up.

While the coons are annoying and self-serving, they are too cute for their own good. In fact, I think that Mama coon had taught them that big-eyed ‘oh please play with me’ look that melted my heart. Yep—they are that smart.

Sigh…..cuteness wins each and every dang time.


Cat and Mouse

If I haven’t said so before, the Crankee Yankee and I live in a house built in 1953. It needed a lot of renovation and repair in the last nine years, so it was inevitable that a few “squatters” took up residence in the attic; what we call “the occasional field mouse.”

I should have been revolted by them, but unfortunately, these mice are adorable; like Disney mice. They have tiny chubby bodies covered in velvety gray fur, big black eyes, little pink paws and they are only about 2″ long. As our cats are expert mousers, now and then they will nab one.

Previously, we’ve been able to escort the one mouse or two out of the house. I use the old Dixie cup strategy; get the mouse trapped into a corner, and put a small Dixie cup near it—usually it will panic and run into the cup. I then close the escape route with another cup so that the mouse is in a “cup cage.” From there I can walk it outside and *set it free.

The other night Nala, our one female cat, flushed a mouse out into the living room. The other cats gave chase and the mouse scooted right under the closet door, and the chase was over for the night. The next morning, we went out in the kitchen and there was Nala, positively beaming over a dead mouse.

As I bent over to scoop it up in the two afore-mentioned Dixie cups, it moved. The little bugger had been playing possum and was very much alive.

But by this time, he/she was in the cup cage, so I took him/her out into the garden and set him/her free. I asked him/her to spread the word that the inside of our house is verboten (forbidden) to them from now on.

I swear that mouse winked at me.

*Funny story, a friend recently told me about a friend of hers with a similar mouse problem. When she caught one, she painted its tail, then let it go. That way she would know if the same mouse came back into her house!