After quickly setting the food bowl inside the door, a move to protect it as much as get it out of consideration, I turned my attention to the baby raccoon now quickly approaching Vazra‘s lady friend Larenti. I hoped the noise of the opening and closing door would stop it in its headlong trot toward the feline. It worked only for a moment, after which it turned and closed the gap. I was only a few steps from their location, so I immediately moved toward them with much deliberateness, but also not too quiet an approach. The cat leaped to her feet, hissed, and took one swipe at the juvenile. While it didn’t make any noise, it certainly turned tail and ran back to where its mother and siblings were standing.
That’s when I heard Vazra hiss. I turned quickly in his direction and saw the other adult raccoon about halfway down the inside of the fence. Despite knowing I’d laugh about it in hindsight, I was then only concerned about the increasing mayhem. They were no more than two feet (half a meter) apart. In any confrontation between the two, I knew the cat would come out on the losing end.
I quickly moved to their location, grabbed Vazra, and set him behind me near the door. At least I knew the raccoon would have to get through me first. Now on the ground inside the patio with us, the smartass was again holding his head up and sniffing the air, but this time there was not much to smell except cat and human. And this time, having no fence between us, my bulk was far more intimidating. I waived my arms and swung the empty bowl at him (not intending to hit him, and certainly not close enough to do so, but meant as a warning and scare tactic) as I walked rapidly toward him speaking in a loud voice. That got his attention.
With no food to get to and with this enormous lumbering ape coming at him like a wild animal, he scurried up the fence. There he stopped and turned to look at me, his mouth open with the heavy breathing used to pick up scents.
“Ah, hell.” I continued moving toward him and making noise, and he continued staring at me as though he knew I was not as much of a threat as I hoped to be. Again, within less than an arm’s reach, we stood face to face as I began wondering if raccoons were known for leaping to attack threats or prey. We were close enough that it was a concern. His location on top of the fence placed him within one short leap of my face, not to mention my scantily clad body.
Even then I could feel a bit of trepidation, a hint of wobbling in my knees as the worry for my own safety appeared front and center. This little rascal was really brave. That alarmed me, so I took a somewhat gentle swing at him with the bowl. It didn’t contact him and was not meant to, but it was close enough to hit him with a blast of air. That scared him enough to force him into a rapid descent down the outside. There he paused and sniffed and looked at me as though I’d offended him. There was also a bit of mischief in his eyes, a perceptive look that said, “I know you still have food. I know you’ve hidden it well. I will find it. And you’re not the boss of me, so stop telling me what to do.”
This is precisely why I don’t want the wildlife to know I feed them. It’s one thing to stumble upon the food and forage for it as they normally would. It’s something else entirely to know I’m giving it to them and to relate food to my presence, a move that, especially in the case of raccoons, often will give them a great deal more courage around me. Even an exception like this situation can cause problems, and it had. This bandit showed up lacking significant fear of humans. Seeing me provide food just added to his comfort.
But I’m smarter and certainly have more weapons at my disposal, so putting the fear of Jason back into him shouldn’t be a big problem — if I could focus on that rather than trying to protect two cats and a bowl of food from half a dozen raccoons.
Still sitting quietly near the door behind me, Vazra had reached his limit with this nonsense and decided it was time to go. He ran to and leaped atop the fence, a move that generates a good deal of noise as he uses his claws to grip the top while pushing from below. Remember, that’s what scared Kako and Kazon.
With his simple escape plan already in motion, he accomplished in one move what I’d failed to accomplish the whole time: the raccoon panicked and bolted in response to the noise and sudden movement.
With no more threat, the Persian cat jumped down the other side of the fence and wandered a short distance away. Spying him and likely aware the raccoon smells and noises were gone, his lady friend casually strolled back toward us.
“Phew…” I was glad that was over. I should have Vazra do the wildlife management from now on.
Later that morning, both cats returned for a more peaceful breakfast, and Vazra was able to soak up all the lovin’ he’d not gotten earlier due to the unscheduled interruption.
Since this experience, the same raccoon has been by several times, and it has even demonstrated an uncanny ability to show up precisely when Vazra arrives in the mornings. That is when fresh food is offered. While I’ve not had exactly this same kind of experience with the beast, I have had similar moments when it doesn’t much care that I’m there and is adamant about getting to whatever food is available — even if that’s the bowl of food Vazra and I are protecting on the patio. But I learned my lesson, and I’ve been able to manage the critter more successfully through noisier and more threatening gyrations.