Vazra‘s lady friend Larenti continues to visit me regularly as she always has (since long before I met Vazra). Because I’m an early riser, I still meet her outside long before dawn when she can enjoy some breakfast. She also visits throughout the day (some days more often than others).
I awoke the other morning shortly after 5:00 and looked out the window to see if she was there. Seeing she hadn’t arrived yet, I got out of bed and threw on some shorts and sandals, and then I stepped outside to the patio. She often sits right around the corner and will make her presence known when she hears me. That’s precisely what happened.
As soon as I saw her, I said good morning and asked her to wait a moment while I stepped inside for her breakfast. Cats are quite fond of predictability and habit. Because of that, she knows precisely what to do when I go back inside. She stepped over to her normal dining spot and made herself comfortable while she waited.
I went inside and retrieved a small bowl of food before returning to the patio. More and more she is comfortable with me, and this particular morning she actually sniffed my hand so closely she touched it several times, but she didn’t flee. Significantly more distrusting (although I can’t rule out feral) than Chira, actual physical contact with her is something new to me. Sure, she trusts me because there’s food involved and I’ve never acted in a way to make her feel anything other than comfortable, but that doesn’t mean she’d let me touch her. She never has before. That said, she has become trusting enough not to run away when I reach through the fence with her sitting right there (the handful of food undoubtedly helps, yes?).
Anyway, I was tickled with the brief and unexpected contact from her. She didn’t even wait for my hand to move out of the way before she knelt down and began eating. I stepped back to give her space and stood talking to her quietly while she ate.
After only three or four bites, we both snapped our heads around in response to the rapid approach of something (or multiple somethings) rustling through the ground cover right around the corner. Undoubtedly better able to hear and smell whatever was coming, she responded immediately by preparing to flee. That’s precisely what she did the moment three raccoons rounded the corner of the patio.
I stood there and sighed as she bolted. Meanwhile, the raccoons found their way to the food. She’d be back, I knew, and I’d make certain she got her breakfast once these little marauders were out of the picture. While this realization occurred to me, the masked bandits made short work of the food that remained. With nothing more to eat outside the fence, they turned their attention to me. Actually, they turned their attention to the bowl of cat food sitting at my feet.
We then played our dangerous yet terribly entertaining and familiar game, one of cat and mouse (or, rather, raccoon and food and human) wherein I keep them outside the fence while they try desperately to get inside the fence so they can finish off the bowl of food. I was busy addressing the first several attempts to invade my space when a strong wind blew the bowl over and spread kibble all over the patio. Well, that’s not worth protecting, and I had no delusions of trying to pick it up in the dark. Instead, I retrieved the bowl and went back inside. Let the raccoons clean up the mess.
That’s precisely what they did. Afterward, with the patio essentially vacuumed clean of all edible morsels, the three beasts climbed back over the fence and went on about their early morning routine. I stood just inside the bedroom door and watched them. As soon as I felt certain they were indeed gone and not just waiting around the corner for me to return (which, surprisingly, they’ve done before), I placed a few handfuls of food in the bowl and once again went outside. As if on queue, the feline came back around the corner and returned to her dining table, seated herself like a young lady should, and waited patiently for me to serve breakfast—again.
I obliged her as much and put a couple of handfuls of food into a neat pile outside the fence right where she’s accustomed to dining. She began eating as soon as the first bit of it was available and didn’t flinch when I snuck my hand in under her nose to add the second helping. The satisfied crunching let me know she was happy. I took a step back, set the food bowl down on the ground at my feet, and watched her munch her cereal.
As if living in our very own Groundhog Day, once again we were both startled by the approach of some creature or creatures scurrying through the underbrush. She stood and looked, her ears at full attention and her nose sniffing silently, and I with my substandard human vision, especially at night, strained to see what might be coming. As soon as a juvenile opossum rounded the corner, she glanced at it for but a moment before returning to her meal. Raccoons are one thing; opossums, most especially immature ones, are another story. She can handle those.
Not wanting a repeat of our earlier wildlife encounter, I stepped quickly to the other end of the patio and tried to halt the approach of this new interloper by leaning over the fence and making a wee bit of noise. It was still early and I wasn’t about to make a big ruckus. What I did was try to scare the opossum so it would turn and head the other way, and that would leave little miss kitty to finish her breakfast in peace. I thought she deserved that much.
I stood leaning over the fence waving my arm and whispering loudly hoping to stop the approaching varmint, gyrations that ultimately amounted to an exercise in futility as the little creature just moved further away from the fence and continued its approach. Then it came from above. I glanced up to see yet another juvenile opossum come scampering out of the tree right above me. We’ve played this game before as well, but luckily this time I wasn’t standing right under the critter and it didn’t just fall out of the tree. I couldn’t help but laugh aloud at this predicament: one on the ground, now two on the ground, and both heading for the cat food my female feline friend was trying to eat.
I stepped closer to her dining spot and made a greater spectacle of myself by waving my arms like a mad man. That stopped them. Well, it did at least give them a reason to pause and reconsider. In the meantime, she continued eating, but she was becoming increasingly nervous about the mayhem shaping up around her. Each bite was punctuated with a glance over her shoulders in the direction of the two marsupial youngsters. In turn, they were watching her closely while reacting to my hysterics.
Unlike raccoons, opossums generally are solitary animals and do not act in tandem or plan and plot together like their masked nocturnal rivals. In direct contradiction to that, and purely by chance, I’m sure, the two opossums split up and tried to outflank both me and the cat by approaching from two directions. This made it increasingly difficult to keep them at bay since I could only address one at a time. That, in turn, gave the other one room and opportunity to get much closer to the target: that pile of cat food. Likewise, the poor kitty was losing interest in her meal because she was spending more time watching the goings-on and making sure the little beasts didn’t get too close. She even hissed when one came within swiping distance. When that didn’t deter it, she promptly walloped it upside the head with a brief swing. I couldn’t help but chuckle as the opossum recoiled in terror.
And then it just all went to hell. A third juvenile opossum climbed down out of the same tree. “How many opossums does that thing hold?” I joked to myself. It would be impossible for me to keep all three of them at bay. To prove this, one of the other little ones promptly reminded me they were not adults by walking effortlessly through the fence and attempting to get to the food from the inside. “Damn it!” I said to no one in particular. Turning my attention to the cat, I continued: “I don’t think I can stop them, sweetie, and I don’t think they’re as afraid of you as we need them to be.”
By that time, she’d stopped eating. She was standing upright and watching—rather, trying to watch all three opossums as they circled the food and her. And me. When I chased one off the patio, another would try the same approach. When I shooed one away from her and the food, another would come from a different direction. I was laughing uncontrollably by then at the sheer humor of it all. I was probably also laughing at how hysterical it all would look if someone were watching (or were they already and I just didn’t know it?).
She eventually had her fill of all the drama. With the sharks circling and me causing all manner of mayhem above and around her as I tried to draw them off, she kicked up her heels and made us eat her dust. She was gone around the corner before I was completely aware of what had happened. That made me laugh even harder. The poor lass… She can’t even eat her breakfast in peace without every creature under the sun coming to steal it away. I’d run too. Fuck that shit, right?
There was no point in my trying to keep them away from the food at that point, so I stepped back from the fence and watched. I’d never before seen more than one opossum share a meal. It was interesting. If my suspicions are correct, they’re all siblings from the same mother, yet not one of them trusted the others to get close to that food. There was an undeclared stalemate as they each took turns grabbing a bite and then stepping back to chew while keeping an eye on the others. There were, in fact, at least a few spits and hisses and growls between the three of them while they vacuumed up the rest of the cat food.
Lacking a single remaining piece of feline fodder and obviously still hungry, they turned their noses toward me. But not really me. They could smell the bowl of remaining cat food now sitting at my feet. And they wanted it. Like the raccoons before them, suddenly I had three small opossums marching their furry little butts right through the fence in search of a free meal. Very much unlike raccoons, opossums aren’t brave. A scuff of my foot on the concrete, a sudden movement of my arm, or even a clearing of my throat would send them into reverse and retreat. I was so thoroughly enjoying this morning for its annoying entertainment value.
Playing intercept with the munchkins rapidly became a chore and I wasn’t going to wait around for the bowl to blow over and spread enticing munchies all over the patio. Instead, I reached down, picked up the bowl, and went back inside. Let them eat somewhere else, I thought. Eventually, they did.