Tag Archives: cats

Killer Kittens and Monster Squirrels

I read an article today about how cats in the United States kill billions of critters a year. Billions. Per year. In the US alone. For reference, this is a billion: 1000000000. Multiply that by 20ish, and you’re looking at how many mice, squirrels, birds, bats, and other small fluffy or feathery lives are extinguished per year, in America, in the jaws of vicious kitty cats.
Some thoughts:
1) Holy crap, we have a lot of critters out there if cats are murdering billions a year and the population of birds and squirrels still seems to be thriving (as far as I can tell, anyway).
2) I guess the loss of that many birds and small mammals is probably bad for the environmental balance, and the whole catch-neuter-release idea for stray cats isn’t necessarily the best plan, although the alternative breaks my heart.
3) I wonder how much higher that number would be if my Horton was an outside cat.
4) Maybe that explains the giant monster squirrels in Mom’s backyard. Evolutionary pressure.
No, really! Think about it! Obviously, the cats are preferentially picking off the smaller and weaker creatures, leaving the giant-critter-genes disproportionately represented in the population! This explains why the crows in my yard are getting so fat they waddle and the squirrels are big and strong enough to haul beefsteak tomatoes off my garden vine and eat them on the deck.
I’m in Montreal this week, and Mom likes to have her morning coffee and cigarette on the back porch even in the cold of a Canadian winter (our blood is thick up here, folks). On my second day here, I heard her yelp and race back in, slamming the door behind her. “He’s back, ‘stie! Jennifer! Come see this sucker!” She pointed out the window towards the biggest squirrel I had ever seen.

“He hates me,” Mom told me, still wrapped in her fur coat and wanting her smoke. “He’s an aggressive son of a bitch! He’s the one who ate through my garbage cans and dug up my flowerpots! I put mothballs like my friend told me, but he just dug them out and threw them on the neighbor’s balcony! When I’m inside at the table, he comes to the windowsill, looks me in the eye, and poops there on purpose right in front of me, the little shit!”

Good daughter that I am, I put on my purple down coat with the fluff-lined hood and stood on the balcony with my mother, brandishing a plastic shovel to defend her from giant attack squirrels. This guy came towards us once or twice, but the whoosh of the shovel scared him back to the neighbor’s hanging flowerpot. I got a picture of him:

And this was one of the smaller guys.

While I was out there, I had a good look around. We were surrounded. There were dozens of squirrels hanging out in the trees behind Mom’s place in Montreal, and every single one was bigger than the ones I usually deal with back in Maryland. The Canadian squirrels look exactly the same in terms of color and features, so I’m sure they’re the same species, but they must weigh at least 3 pounds each.

Weight-loss-inspiration photo these guys surely have
taped to the bathroom mirrors in their nests.

I’m not kidding. Thick branches dip dangerously under their weight. The downstairs neighbor is contributing to their weight problem by throwing crackers and stale bread out for them on a regular basis. If you’re quiet, you can hear them crunching from the balcony. It’s surreal, hearing dozens of crackers being crunched by hundreds of tiny teeth.  I tried hard to get a picture of the really fat one, but he stayed too far away. He doesn’t fit through the holes in the chain-link fence, poor little guy, so he had to climb the fence to get at his carbs.

A photo of Fatty from 2008. He’s still using it in his SquirrelMatch.com profile.

I’ll be back out there tomorrow for more balcony defense. Wish me luck. They may bring reinforcements. Does anyone have an outside cat I can borrow?

Horton’s Room

Horton, my dearest Murder Kitten, is trying to kill me. At first it was obvious aggression, flinging himself at me with fangs bared in hopes of clamping down on my windpipe and taking me down like a gazelle. But he’s mellowed with age and he’s much more affectionate than ever, even cuddling in my lap to watch TV, so the attacks are much fewer, and mostly only when provoked with poking. His main tactic now is sleep deprivation.
He has been eating special food since his urinary blockage and urethrostomy surgery two years ago, and so far it has kept him from having a recurrence of urinary crystals. Unfortunately, he started throwing up several times a week, and the vet thinks it may be an allergy to the food. We tried two other “urinary health” formulas, neither of which Horton would eat, so we opted to feed him canned food. instead, because it has less grain fillers, and more water, both of which are good for cats with urinary issues. The problem with the canned food is that he only eats a little at a time without throwing up, so we can only feed him about a quarter of a can per feeding. This means he needs to eat several times a day, and his majesty has decided that one of his feedings needs to be at 4am, because he can’t get through the night without starving to death.

At first, I tried pulling the blankets over my head and ignoring his plaintive meows at the bedroom door, but he’s a clever cat and stuffs his paws under the door, rattling it, which is a much harder sound to sleep through. I used felt pads on the door frame and the handle like this to try and muffle the rattle:

But it doesn’t do enough – the sound still wakes me up and then keeps me awake. If I don’t respond, he’s happy to continue for half an hour or more, sometimes throwing himself at the door handle in an attempt to break in. We can never switch to the lever-style door handles – he would learn to open them within a week, despite the lack of opposable thumbs. If I cave and let him in, he stays for a while, then whines to get back out. If I go feed him, he’ll eat, then come back to the door to harass me again. After two full weeks of insufficient and interrupted sleep, I was a wreck.

So now I put him in his room at night.

We set up the mudroom with a pet bed and a food station, and when he wakes me up at night I bring him and his canned food in there, dump him unceremoniously onto the floor, and lock him in. He keeps meowing, but this way I can’t hear him from the bedroom. It breaks my heart because I love him and don’t want to keep him cooped up alone all night, but I was losing my ability to function. I should put him there when we go to bed, but I’m still too much of a softie to handle that. I let him sleep with me till he wants out, then we go to his room and I say goodnight and walk away. I still get woken up every night, but I can fall asleep again quickly.

He’s mad about the situation, though. And he’s taking it out on the carpet in a big way.

Sigh. We were going to rip up that carpet eventually anyway.