One night during February of 2006, I was watching television in the den. The room was dark except for the glow of the TV. At that time I had a German Shepherd named Abby and she was about 10 years old. While we were lying there in the dark, out of the corner of my eye I saw something scurry across the floor fast and disappear. I know you know what I mean. You don’t actually see it, but you know what it is! Damn it! That’s a mouse! So the next day I started researching animal adoption agencies to look for a cat. And I found him! His name was Woody, all black and six months old. Perfect! So I adopted him after spending an hour with him at the Dumb Friend’s League. They tried to get me to take another cat because Woody had some respiratory problems, but he was in the DFL and had been there for some time during his short life. He was named Woody by a woman who bought him from a breeder, took him home and then brought him to the DFL because her husband said “no.” Really? Well, whoever you are, he turned out to be the best cat anyone could ask for and the house mouse problem was solved.
This year I allowed him to roam the outside. I felt sorry for him sitting in the house and getting fat performing all the normal house cat activities: sleeping, playing, sleeping, eating and sleeping. Woody was outside during daylight hours only because early morning and dusk brings the coyotes and foxes around. We’ve lost several cats in the hood because they were out roaming after dark.
But unfortunately, Woody is a crafty and excellent killer. He is not interested in his prey for food because he probably prefers Fromm Family duck a la veg or his canned varieties of which he receives a small spoon daily as a supplement. Plus the canned food is my tool for getting him back into the house–beating on the can will get his attention unless he has roamed more than a block away.
My front yard was transformed from mostly grass and a few perennials to less grass and many perennials, wildflowers and sunflowers. Also, my yard is considered a “certified wildlife habitat” by the National Wildlife Federation and their backyard wildlife habitat program. In order to receive a certificate, one must create an environment that encourages wildlife such as birds by including places to find food, shelter, water and places to raise their young. At the least, this is simply done by adding bird feeders and baths and having trees and shrubs in one’s yard. I sometimes use bird feeders but the squirrels wreak havoc with them. So I plant a lot of wildflowers and sunflowers which contain seeds that attract the birds. Birds, squirrels, rabbits, butterflies, hummingbirds, foxes and lots of honeybees visit my yard. Come autumn my yard may not look so inviting to the human, but the birds and squirrels are having a dickens of a time! In the front yard, there can be found 10 to 20 or more birds at any given time, enjoying the seed harvest! Sparrows, chickadees, finches and warblers.
And here lies the problem—the cat! I was thinking about this the other day, about how I am bringing the prey directly to him. I have found a number of dead birds in the backyard and each time I tell Woody he can no longer go outside! Then I relent because it means less “clean-up” with a litter box; unfortunately at the cost of a number of birds’ lives. Also, my neighbors love him because he’s been keeping the mouse population down. They welcome him into their yards!
One morning I was standing in the front yard admiring the mixed colors of cosmos, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, native and giant sunflowers, Mexican hat, along with little blue flax and golden yarrow. All of a sudden I see a pair of black paws rising out of the flowers like a Phoenix! WOODY! There he was hidden among the flowers waiting for the warblers! Luckily, the warbler didn’t end up between those paws and was able to escape. I chased him out of the flowers and he took off over the neighbor’s fence and sat in the middle of his yard staring at me. I did eventually get him into the house and have not let him back out until recently.
We’ve had a good spell of snow and cold weather this week and I figured he wouldn’t roam very far and would just do his business and return. Seriously, I’m not an idiot and have kept tight reins on his outdoor activity. This morning I went outside to bring in more wood for the stove and here he comes running with a gray and white bird in his mouth. He’s running for the door hoping to get inside so he can torture the poor bird! I stop him with my foot and his jaw grips the bird tighter. He eventually released the bird and it was able to fly off and into the lilac bush. Woody immediately ran over preparing for a leap into the bush but I was able to foil his advance and snatch him up fast! He’s in the house now bitching at me for taking away his fun and livelihood. He’s not interested in the statistics that show how many birds are killed by outdoor cats. He said “sorry, it’s in my DNA” and wanders over to the couch and curls up.
I love my gardens and all the wildlife that show up and I continually add more and more plants that attract them. Unfortunately for Woody he will now be a permanent indoor cat and will view the activities of Mother Nature from the inside windows!