Category Archives: Larenti

5 raccoons + 2 cats + 1 human = mayhem (part 1)

It was a few minutes before 5:00 in the morning when my eyes popped open.  I was wide-awake.  I hate it when that happens, especially when I’d prefer to sleep.  With no hope of that, I climbed out of bed.

A quick glance outside indicated there were no visitors.  I was mainly looking for the cats, Vazra and his lady friend Larenti.  Sans external obligations, I stepped into the bathroom and brushed my teeth, put out fresh food and water for The Kids, and nearly leaped out of my skin when both Kako and Kazon literally flew out of the bedroom at warp speed.  Both had been resting comfortably by the patio door, so I assumed they were frightened by something outside (not frightened of it specifically, but rather frightened by a sudden noise or movement).

I glanced in the bedroom and saw Vazra sitting outside.  I was correct: Kako and Kazon probably were frightened when he leaped atop the fence, a maneuver that often makes a sudden and loud noise.  I giggled to myself as both cats slowly came back to the bedroom door to take a peek at whatever must certainly be coming to get them.  The sight of Vazra sitting patiently put everyone at ease.

I went to the kitchen and retrieved some bowls, put some cat food in one and fresh water in the other, and then stepped outside.  Vazra, as always, was quite happy to see me.  Before I had to ask if she was there, his lady friend came around the corner and spoke.  Both would get some breakfast this morning (although I’ll admit she visited late the night before and got a midnight snack).

I placed a small handful of food outside the fence as she waited patiently.  Only a few small meows from her punctuated the silence.  Vazra was already too busy eating to speak.  The moment the food was in place, she began munching as well.

While both felines enjoyed the first course of breakfast (the later courses would be during their return visits, if any), I stood and quietly spoke to them while petting Vazra.  We all heard the noise at the same time, and all three of us snapped to attention.  Something was coming.  In the context of the wildlife in this area, it sounded like a herd of elephants trampling through the undergrowth.

In the darkness, the first thing I saw was some tiny little creatures scurrying around the corner, but they were following something large.  Their approach kept them from being completely visible to me.  All I could see were some faint shadows moving about in the darkness.  Given the size of several of them, my first thought was that it was another cat with kittens in tow.  I was wrong.

It was a mother raccoon with three babies.  They were so small and cute, each probably no more than 6 – 7 pounds (2.5 – 3 kilograms).  They followed their mother closely.

The female cat was on full alert by the time the raccoon family rounded the corner.  Unlike Vazra and myself, she was outside the fence.  And she was standing over a pile of cat food.

“Oh, hell!” I blurted out.  She was standing over a pile of cat food…  Uh-oh.  While raccoons are terribly fearful of dogs (even though a raccoon can kill a dog), they don’t see cats as anything more than an odd curiosity.  That’s true except when it comes to a mother and her babies.  Under those circumstances, a female raccoon might consider cats a threat to her young.  Specifically in this case, they’d also see her as an obstacle between them and the cat food.

I immediately reached into Vazra’s bowl and grabbed another small handful of food.  I quickly tossed it over the fence directly into the path of the oncoming family.  My hope was that it would stop them from trying to take the cat food before my feline friend was through eating her breakfast.  It would also give me time to run inside and get something else to offer the raccoons lest this situation turn ugly.

My plan worked.  I returned to the patio with some pecans, almonds, and a Fig Newton.  The cookie is something sweet and can keep the raccoons occupied with diversity instead of focusing on the other food they smell.  I tossed the nuts over the fence so the meal landed close to the mother and babies.  I then broke the cookie up into several small pieces and tossed those over the fence as well.  All four raccoons were quite happy and munched away.

Let me note that I absolutely do not like to feed the wildlife when they can see me.  I do not want them growing accustomed to me, and I do not want to lessen their fear of humans.  Despite that, this was an urgent exception to that rule in hopes it would protect the cat.

Vazra by that time forgot his own breakfast and was more interested in keeping an eye on the masked bandits.  This was also true of the female cat.  Because her location was far more easily compromised, I couldn’t blame her for not returning to her meal.  She didn’t walk away from it, but neither did she continue eating it.  It would be too much of a diversion when her attention needed to be focused on the four wild animals in close proximity.

Then all seven of us heard it and reacted in kind by turning our attention to more noise approaching from around the corner, although this time it sounded like a single animal.  I believe it was then I muttered something akin to “Oh shit.  What now…”

A large raccoon came around the corner and headed for the family of four.  This time Vazra hissed and backed away from the fence.  His lady friend stood her ground while she watched the raccoon numbers increase to five, two of whom were rather large with the mother being only slightly smaller than the new arrival.

The situation was getting complicated fast.  The cat food outside the fence would certainly tempt them as soon as someone stopped eating long enough to smell it.  How I wish I could get that cat to come onto the patio.

The most recent arrival ate a bit of the nuts and cat food I’d tossed out before turning his attention toward the female cat and her supply.  I noticed this and stepped over behind her (obviously inside the fence).  I know raccoons have no problem approaching a cat, but they would be more apprehensive with me standing there.  I was right; the largest raccoon stopped his approach and looked at me.

It was then I realized the other four raccoons had finished the nuts and cookie and were now in search of other goodies, and they too smelled the cat food.

“Fucking hell!” I said, and this time there was no murmuring about it.  The situation was rapidly spiraling out of control, and it was too late to go back inside for more food as that would leave both cats in danger.

[Part 2]

Not the most restful of mornings

2:43 AM.

Why am I awake this early in the morning?  More importantly, why did I awake so abruptly?  I sleep soundly, but I also remain aware of what’s going on around me and wake at the slightest discrepancy.  A noise.  A movement.  Sometimes only because I have the impression that something is amiss.  It’s my natural alarm that has always served me well in the past.  So why did it go off at 2:43 in the morning?

I look around the bedroom through wide-open eyes and see all of The Kids scattered about.

Kazon is on the pillow next to my face staring at me blankly.  He too wonders why I’m awake at this hour, and he also believes, since I’m awake, that I should not hesitate to pet him.  So I do while continuing to take stock of my environment in an attempt to identify what caused me to rise from the depths of slumber.

Grendel and Kako are curled together in the middle of the bed next to my waist.  Kako is staring at me intently also trying to fathom why I am conscious at this hour.  Grendel only briefly notices me before going back to sleep.

Loki is the only one not on the bed.  He’s sitting next to the patio door looking outside.  I focus on him for a moment, and then I follow his gaze out to the patio.

Could there be some wildlife in the area finishing off last night’s dinner?  Perhaps they made some noise while eating and I awoke in response.  If the last raccoon party of three is any indication, I might even have heard a scuffle break out between the diners given how loud and violent they can get.

A sudden movement catches my eye.  It’s a dark form milling about just outside the fence.  And then I see another, not as dark even in the shadows, who likewise is near the first dark form on the other side of the fence.  I recognize both immediately.

The living shadow of the first creature is Vazra.  I focus on him momentarily.  How odd that he’s here this early in the morning.  His schedule is like clockwork: always here between 5 and 6 in the morning.  Worry overtakes me with tremendous speed.  Is something wrong with him?  Is he hurt?  What caused him to arrive at this hour?

So I turn my attention to the other form moving slowly just a yard (a meter) away from him, and I immediately recognize it is the presumed female Larenti that more and more follows Vazra in the mornings and indulges me by having a bite to eat.  She still is not clear on how to respond to me.  She is, after all, more feral than her friend.  Despite her fear and uncertainty, however, she does talk to me and responds when I talk to her, and she also will eat the food I put outside the fence for her.  There are times when I sincerely believe she asks me for something to eat.  Seeing her with Vazra is not a surprise as I have mentioned before, but again I am forced to ponder why both are here so early in the morning.  This has never happened before.

I rise out of bed and slip on a pair of shorts.  Before I can take a step toward the doors, Vazra leaps atop the fence and drops down the other side onto the patio.  I move toward him as he moves toward me.  Having reached the door, I unlock it, open it, and step outside to the happy feline greetings on the other side.

That’s good.  Vazra sounds fine.  At least, he certainly doesn’t sound wounded.

“Why are you here so early?” I ask with no expectation of a coherent answer, although often I wish I could more clearly understand the outside cats as well as I understand The Kids.  Experience.  That’s the difference.

Vazra rubs against my legs and meows affectionately.  The other cat also speaks a few times in that dishearteningly lonely way she often does.

I reach down and pet my Persian friend while continuing to talk to both of them.  In return, Vazra purrs contentedly, gives me several love bites, and continues to rub against me and talk with joy.  I kneel down and give him plenty of attention.  In the meantime, the other cat has come closer and is also talking.  How I wish she trusted me more.  Perhaps with time…

After several minutes of Vazra soaking up as much attention as he could get with conversation filling the air between the three of us, I stand and promise an immediate return.  I rush back inside and grab fresh food and water for them.  As usual, Vazra meets me at the door and talks and rubs as I carry the bowls out to the patio.  I mentally note how wonderful it is that I can still hear him purring with tremendous glee.

I set the bowls down in the middle of the patio, and then I grab a small handful of food while Vazra digs in.  The other cat is still asking a question I do not yet understand, although I believe at this point that she is asking for a meal, something I dutifully provide by placing some food outside the fence.  The moment I take a few steps back, she moves in and begins eating.

3:00 AM.

Why am I outside feeding the neighborhood cats when I could be inside sleeping?  The answer is simple: because I wouldn’t be able to sleep while they are out here asking for a bit to eat and some water to wash it down.

Both cats eat heartily with much crunching, and Vazra requests — and receives — more attention after he has his fill of food and drink.  The other cat finishes most of the food and immediately begins talking again.  It is that persistent question, that undeniable cry of aloneness.  I wish she trusted me more than she does.

Vazra decides it’s time to go and leaps the fence with ease.  He hops down on the other side and walks comfortably away from me.  The other cat follows him without skipping a beat in her conversation.

I, on the other hand, go back inside and climb back into bed.  Because I know opossums and raccoons will be back through this area before dawn, I take the food and water back inside for safekeeping.

4:33 AM.

Again I wake up, and again I see Vazra on the patio (I do not see the female cat this time, but that does not mean she isn’t out there somewhere close).

In what is a very new development, Vazra is sleeping on the patio.  I do not know where he normally sleeps.  That means seeing him there is an odd thing and beckons to me for action, but I do not wish to disturb him.  He is curled comfortably against the wall directly outside the bedroom windows.  All I need do is roll over and look out to see him there.  I decide not to get up this time and instead go back to sleep.

5:18 AM.

I am again wide-awake, so I look out to the patio and do not see the black Persian where he was sleeping before, so I squirm a bit to get a better look at the rest of the patio.  I find him curled up in the middle of the concrete floor.  He’s sleeping soundly and I do not even get out of bed, but more and more I am curious about this scenario and how it is playing out.  It is a new experience.  And again, I feel a tinge of guilt at not doing something for Vazra, but I can not as yet bring him inside and I dare not disturb him lest I give up the rest of my morning.  So I go back to sleep.

6:02 AM.

The tap-tap-tap of feline claws on the windows wrests me from sleep.  There stands Vazra on the other side of the door.  The instant I move, he meows and looks at me intently.  At this point, there’s no need to think I will get any more sleep, and the last several hours have been anything but restful, so I rise from bed, get more food and water, and step outside for our normal morning routine.  Again he takes his fill of sustenance, washes it down with a healthy drink of water, and requests and receives plenty of attention.  His female friend is not present this time, but I will see her again.

[on a related note, I’ve been unable to capture Vazra; he does not react well to the pet carrier despite my efforts to acclimate him to it; that makes me wonder about his past; irrespective, my efforts continue in that regard so I can get him to the vet and the groomer; depending on his health status, he may well become the official fifth member of The Kids — assuming my plan actually works out; and another thing: it might be time to come up with a name for the female cat; it would certainly help when writing about her, especially if she’s going to continue coming around as much as she has been (at least daily with Vazra); any ideas?]

Another of the neighborhood cats

For only the third time to date, I was able to feed another of the neighborhood cats.  I believe this one is female based on personality.  I could, however, be terribly and insultingly wrong.

Regardless of sex, I am assuming the tipped ear means sexual function has been surgically deactivated.

This cat is far shier than any of the others I’ve seen around here so far, including Chira and Vazra.  She’s also more feral, although that infers a level of wildness she does not possess.

She’s not entirely fearful of people.  She’s also not completely trusting of us.  She’s never sure what to do about me: Run?  Or watch carefully?  It all depends on how close I am and what I do.  Mostly, she watches me carefully.

As I mentioned in my previous post, she does allow me to feed her from time to time.  I can count such occasions on one hand.  I’d call that very slow progress considering I’ve seen her around here for more than a year.

She’s always very curious about me; likewise, she’s always leary of me.  It’s fun watching that struggle take place in her each time she visits.

This particular sightseer also roams quite a bit after dark.  She has on more than one occasion chanced upon raccoons and opossums.  Why that seems to happen mostly right outside my patio fence I simply can’t imagine…

She’s also the young lass who follows Vazra sometimes when he comes to visit.  She’s lonely, I can tell, and you’d see it plain as day were you to spy her under such circumstances.  She sits outside the fence and cries for him.  It’s almost heartbreaking to hear and see.  She needs company, companionship, someone to help her feel like she matters.  It can’t be denied.

She followed him to my patio one morning and waited for him as he ate and got dawn’s serving of lovin’.  She stood there the entire time crying and pleading in the hope he would hear her need and oblige her the comradeship.  Vazra, on the other hand, didn’t know what to make of her other than she was terribly pushy.  For the first time since I’d informally been introduced to her, she ate some cat food as she waited.

As Vazra left having enjoyed his time with me, she happily followed with a heartfelt joy on her lips.  I almost cried.  There was a desperation in her that smelled of an emptiness inside that could only be filled with contact.

I guess that’s why I really like her and pay attention to her as much as I can.  She needs it.  She says as much from time to time when she finds the strength and will to speak.  It’s always the cry of the alone, a question for which she will not accept my answer.  At least not yet.

Ultimately, there are a lot of stray and feral cats in this area.  The lake supports an abundance of wildlife because it is a federally-protected refuge.  I suspect that is undoubtedly a reliable source of food.  The feline population also benefits from people like me who feed them without question.  I know for certain that I am not the only one.

Will I name this little lady?  It’s possible, but not yet.  I am a convenient curiosity for her.  I doubt it’s much more than that.  Sure, a meal now and again is always nice, and I’m probably quite entertaining with my whispered cooing and animated gesticulating, but it’s hard to say that I’m much more than that.  She’s just very distant and distrusting of people.

Well, I have time to work on that.

Here’s the best picture of her I have right now.  Click on it for a larger version that makes it a bit easier to appreciate those gorgeous eyes.

Larenti sitting just outside my patio fence (144_4490)
Larenti relaxing under the bushes (144_4493)

And the first photo I got of her?  I hope you’re not holding your breathe.  Again, click on it for a larger version (although the quality goes downhill because the original was taken with much rapidity and lack of preparation).

Larenti behind the fence (144_4456)

That’s as close as I could get considering where she was.  When I tried to improve my view, she bolted.

[Update] I have since named this cat Larenti.

You know it’s humid when…

…you put dry cat food out at 6 AM and it has the consistency of room-temperature Play-Doh by 9 AM.  It mushes between the fingers just as easily.

I’ll have to give it to the raccoons and opossums tonight because the cats won’t eat it in that state.  Luckily, Vazra got his fill at 6 AM, as did another of the neighborhood cats who graced me with her presence today (I’ll post a photo of her momentarily).

But back to the weather…

The tropical air mass currently hovering over North Texas is simply gross.  It’s an oppressive mess indeed.  You know the kind.  It’s like taking a very hot shower with the door closed, thereby filling the bathroom with steam, and then stepping out of the shower and wrapping yourself from head to toe with warm, wet towels.  Yes, it’s that nasty.  It sits on you like a weight.  Because there is no wind, it’s even worse because it just hangs there and smothers everything.

It’s thankfully cloudy and won’t get as hot as it normally would, otherwise it would be much worse.  Then again, this is Texas in summer.  It’s inherently bad.  What we really need is rain—a lot of rain.  We’re more than 20 inches (half a meter) below our normal rainful for the last 12 months.  The drought is so bad here that the entire area is under water restrictions.  Many are already in stage 3 or stage 4.  Sadly, I don’t think it will get better.  Climate change will see to that.