In last week’s Wednesday’s Words, I made a casual reference to our cat window and racoons that I’ve been asked about. Despite the fact that this represents something I’m not very proud of, I decided that I should satisfy people’s curiosity about the matter.
I consider myself a fairly intelligent woman. I went to university, and I never got a grade under a B plus. I exercise my brain regularly – not only through my profession which requires me to research, and then construct plots that work and characters that enchant. But I also do various hand to eye co-ordination, puzzle, and strategy games.
My motto is use it or lose it, and while my body seems determined to be on a downward slope, I’ll be damned if my brain will be.
But every once in a while, and usually about the time I’m feeling rather proud of myself and my abilities and accomplishments, I demonstrate that mentally speaking, it’s possible I’m not all that high up on the food chain after all.
We have a cat window. When we purchased this cat window, my beloved installed it into a piece of finished pine, and cut that piece of pine to fit our small kitchen window—the one beside the back door, and adjacent to the kitchen counter. He then further installed another piece of that finished pine as a “shelf”, so that the cat could have a place to stand going out, or coming in, that was quite a bit wider than the window sill it covered.
You know how real estate sales people are known for saying, “location, location, location”? Well, that kitchen counter close to the cat window—that is where we have always had the cat’s kibble dish.
It’s an out of the way place, and it’s off the floor—because as we’ve always had cats, so too, we’ve always had dogs.
Word had apparently gotten around the animal neighborhood that there was a twenty-four seven restaurant, with easy access and reasonable prices—free. From time to time, when we had our last cat—Boots, and my daughter’s cat, Crash, we would also find ourselves entertaining “interloper kitties”. I don’t mean the one we have one on a regular basis. His name is MoJo and he used to be my daughter’s cat, too. He would come from time to time for food and cream and treats. Still does, in fact.
But there were other “interloper” kitties, some I’d never seen before. I’d hear the cat window, know my cats were indoors and asleep, and look into the kitchen to see an unfamiliar cat chowing down on Meow Mix. I never really minded that too much. Our old dog, Rochie, would sometimes object most vociferously. Sometimes the cats would too. But when they did, or the instant either my beloved or I came into the kitchen, the guest cat would leave, post-haste.
Then we lost our old kitties, who are waiting at the rainbow bridge for us, became inheritors of our new kitty who chose us to live with, and of course, we got Mr. Tuffy.
Mr. Tuffy takes great exception to other animals coming into the house. When MoJo pops in, we have to keep the dog in arms until the kitty is finished with his tuna, cream, and treats. Not a problem really, and it’s been a long time since there has been any other cats dining at Chez Ashbury.
But cats aren’t the only feral night creatures looking for an easy meal. One night, I got out of bed—the dog hadn’t even awakened—and headed to the bathroom.
I heard the sound of the cat window swing wide and loud—and I thought, oh, a kitty! I went to the door to look out the window, and it wasn’t a kitty that glared back at me for so rudely interrupting it’s feast. It was a racoon!
After I made sure the cat was in, I “blocked” that cat window. And did so the next night. I used a seven kilogram tub of cat litter, and felt secure. Until the next morning, when I discovered the litter on the floor, the cat food dish empty—and the lid pried of the plastic container containing the dog’s kibble bag, the bag taken out, slashed, and emptied, too.
I frantically looked for and tried out other methods to “block” the cat window—there was no latch, of course. That had broken off years before. What to do, what to do? I didn’t want a racoon coming into my house!
And then it suddenly occurred to me. I went over to the window where the cat window had been installed, lifted it...and pulled out the insert.
Friends, I stood there, window closed, insert in hand, and thought of all the stormy cold winter days over the last decade or so, when I’d tried to block the wind with one method or another, and wished I could do so much more effectively.
Nope, I’m afraid I’m not very high up on the food chain at all.