Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bring me your furry, your potentially rabid...

The kitten... the feral one?  That hung onto my hand with its teeth after I picked it up, because it was so terrified?  The one I had to have "just in case" rabies shots for?  It's back... And David says I'm  not allowed to touch it.  Not even a little bit.

S/he is bigger now, more like an gawky adolescent young cat, but I recognize her/him.  (I didn't get a really good glimpse of the kitten's junk to get a definite girl/boy status while I was prying its jaws open to facilitate its gentle release to the ground.)  It was following its siblings across the bottom of the yard.  I must have drawn in my breath in that  'Kitten!!! - There is a KITTEN!!!' sound and s/he spooked and instead of running after its siblings through the east side of the fence, it turned tail and ran a good 20 feet to the west fence and disappeared.  A couple of minutes later it tried to cross again, and even though I was NOT making the 'Kitten!  There is a KITTEN!!!' sound, (because I was purposely holding my breath) it looked at me, spooked again, and ran back under the west fence.  And really, of course it would, because I was the crazy human who picked it up and refused to throw it down when it bit me.  In the feral cat world, I am now an urban legend.  "Don't go in THAT yard.  The crazy lady lives there.  She mauls and traps kittens and then makes coats out of them."

Then the other morning?  The kittens - ALL THREE OF THEM - were playing ON OUR DECK in the sunshine!!  I held my breath at the back door, trying to look inconspicuous so that I wouldn't spook them, while calculating whether I could open the door without it making its tell-tale creaky noise.  Not that I was going to go pick up the kittens or anything, I just wanted to door to be open.  You know, just in case they decided that they wanted to come in the house and spontaneously cuddle.  What?  It COULD so happen.  I dream about it all the time!

Sadly, I have not seen the kittens in a couple of days.  What I did see yesterday evening after dinner, while my friends Christine & John (and their son Jacob) were over, was a young RACCOON!!!  The neighbour's dogs had chased it from their yard to ours.  It climbed up our play structure and hung out in the tree.

Sadly, this did NOT happen last night.  But I wish it did.  The only thing better would be if there were baby swans too - of course the cats (and maybe the raccoons) would eat the swans, but the white feathers would be a nice contrast.  In my best dreams they would all let me put them in my cleavage and nuzzle them.
Picture from

We weren't sure, but we think that that raccoon might have had...  issues.  Intellectual issues.  Perhaps rabies issues.  It was severely uncoordinated for a raccoon, had a rough time navigating the tree and looked like nobody had taught it how to climb down the tree headfirst, which raccoons can totally do.

Example of the headfirst descent
The other thing that made us feel like maybe the raccoon wasn't altogether there, was that after it left the play structure tree, it then came over to the deck, not 8 feet away from us, and nonchalantly climbed one tree, then shinnied down, then climbed the next tree, then walked on the deck railing, then climbed the next tree and shinnied down then climbed the NEXT tree to that had small branches touching the roof and then tried to make its way onto the roof where it looked VERY confused and gave us the "Can you give me some help here?" look.  Either the animal had major depth perception issues and couldn't tell that the first trees were nowhere close to the house, or it was just an idiot.  As it was trying to get onto the roof and looking like it might fall, I may have stood under it with my maxi skirt held in front of me like a rescue net they use for potential suicide jumpers.  David told me that if I got bitten he was not going to take me to the hospital, I would have to drive myself.  No worries though, it made it to the roof.

We are used to raccoons being on our roof.  Last spring we had a mother and her 5 kits living in our eaves.  We enjoyed an elaborate game of "Watch the raccoons leave, Put up the 32 foot extension ladder, Screw in boards to cover the raccoon holes" for several nights, thinking we had finally purged the house, when in fact there was still that raccoon scrabbling sound (okay now I'm imagining a family of raccoons playing Scrabble, perhaps enjoying pink lemonade with cocktail umbrellas) in the eaves, and then we'd have to climb up the ladder and unscrew the boards and then slide them out of the way, because I couldn't bear the thought of potentially murdering a family of raccoons in our eaves.

One night, we thought we had done it.  They were out!!  We did our happy, raccoon-free dance.  Then, the next day, the mother raccoon was back.  In the day time.  Climbing the ladder to the roof and walking around.  Not THAT weird in itself, except for the fact that we were having our chimney re-built at the time and there we two dudes with mortar and bricks and a very loud radio on the roof.  She was walking around and going up and down the extension ladder - and let me tell you, watching a raccoon descend headfirst down a ladder is a freaky thing.  One might well ask: "Why would a raccoon be out in the daytime, hanging out with the masons???  It seems so odd!"  Until I heard her kits crying for her.  Because we had boarded her kits in the eaves!!!  This realization made me nearly puke with anxiety.  I HAD SEPARATED A MOTHER FROM HER BABIES!!!  I was going to hell!!  David wasn't home, and we have a rule that you cannot climb the 32 foot extension ladder if you are by yourself (not for ME, for DAVID), so I called my friend Nathalie and got her to foot the ladder while I climbed to the roof.  I'm not afraid of heights per se, but it's not my favourite thing in the world to be up high without a harness.  Less fun when you're climbing with a cordless hand-drill in one hand.  I unscrewed the boards and moved them out of the way.  Then I watched from the office window as the mother raccoon transported all of her kits, one by one, down the extension ladder.  After they were all gone, I went back up and boarded it over again.  Crisis averted.  Except there's this SMELL this summer, that makes me think that maybe one of those kits DIED in the eaves.  I'm hoping it was just a runty kit who wouldn't have made it anyway and not because I had trapped it without its mother and it died of a panic attack.

All this to say, that I was so worried about the Short Bus raccoon that I made David and John put up the extension ladder so that it could use that as a route back down in case the small branches that touch the roof seem too spindly and breaky for the beast when it tried to get down the tree way.  I think we'll have to wait and see whether it abandons the roof or takes up some small tools from our garage, opens up the boards on the eaves and announces to all its raccoon buddies,  "Penthouse!!  Over here!"

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