Over the years, several battles have been waged here at the humble abode and against a variety of adversaries. But the one that remains everlasting, eternal, perpetual, and most maddening is the war against the cats. It’s the classic unwinnable conflict, for me, not the cats. They remain victorious. It’s a little like the cockroach scenario, the bugs will live on despite everything nature can and has thrown at them. The cats will rule long after I’m gone and moldy in my grave.
I won the war against the raccoons. Oh, they’re still around. They send out scouts every now and then to see if my defenses are down or weakened. I still see them on occasion when the dog alarm goes off and I catch their shiny little eyes in the beam of my flashlight. But I know and they know, their once devastating attacks on my bird feeders are now nothing more than a hiss of a threat. Modern technology in the form of an electrified cable stretched between two trees, protects the feeders with an invisible force. The charger that gives them a “non-fatal but memorable” jolt hasn’t been hot for several months now, but the coonies haven’t noticed. Raccoons have long memories. I’m still considering a patent. (Note: Not only did the electrified cable stop the coonies, it also lit up the squirrels, an added bonus.)
But the cats battles, that’s a different story. Unlike the coonies, the cats operate under a shield of immunity upheld and enforced by the Missus. Cats can do no wrong.
Pee on the carpet? “The poor thing must have a bladder infection. I’ll take her to the vet.”
Claw the furniture? “I’ll get a scratch pad at PetSmart.”
Knock over an antique vase and watch it smash to the floor? “She didn’t mean to do it.”
Yes, all those kitty sins wear on me, but nothing like when they take down the song birds that I so faithfully feed and coax in for photographs, luring them to their death as it turns out. Faithful readers might remember the cat fence. Another laudable invention where I encircled the area beneath the feeders with chicken wire. This idea worked far beyond my wildest expectations. Not only did it stop the ferocious feline charge on ground feeding birds; the cats would not scale or jump the fence even though they were quite capable of doing so. Something about the flimsiness of it I think.
However, there was one feeder, an expensive squirrel proof model, that hung by itself, away from the protection of the cat fence, there being no room left on the cable.. It hung at a higher altitude than the other feeders, seemingly safe from assault…until yesterday.
It wasn’t the first time I’d caught the Brat Cat, aka The Problem Child, hanging around underneath that particular feeder. I wasn't all that worried, the heighth of the feeder being out of range of even the most athletic of felines. Wrong! As I watched in horror, the Brat Cat gathered her strength, coiled, and sprang, snatching a bird off the feeder with fang and claw as easily as swatting a fly. Proudly, she then ran into the woods with her trophy, feathers flying. I couldn’t believe it. The distance of the leap, and I’m not making this up, was 58 ½ inches measured by my trusted and highly accurate, Black and Decker ruler. Clearly, a new invention was in order.
What I came up with was the Acme Cat Shield. The idea was simple; a frame of stiff wire spanned by a network of plastic mesh commonly used in gardens and such for ivy to climb on. Tie wraps were used to secure a 24 inch square of the mesh to the framework. More wire served as a hanger to place the ACS (Acme Cat Shield) approximately one foot below the feeder. I stood back, evaluated the invention, and deemed it to be a work of genius. Of course the final test, the make or break, the safety of the feeding bird, would not be known until the Brat Cat made another attack. I didn’t have to wait long.
Only a few hours had passed before the Problem Child made one of her perfected stealthy approaches and parked her marauding little ass under the feeder for an another ambush. Remember, this would be the second kill of the day. No telling how many others I had missed.
With the ACS in place, I waited for a bird, the cat waited for a bird. Time passed. The tension was palpable.
I saw it out of the corner of my eye, a House Finch, it’s little reddish breast flashing in the sun, descended from the trees, hovering a moment at the feeder, and then… dropping to the ground.
“NO! NO!”I yelled, “Not the ground you dumb-ass bird.” Sho nuff, before I could move, before I could find an object to fling at the cat, before I could charge to the rescue, the Brat Cat had another victim.
“It’s just doing what comes naturally,” the Missus says, a witness to the whole bloody event.
“Yeah? Well my natural reaction is to get the .20 gauge.”
It was an idle threat of course. She knew it and I knew it. But it felt good to say it.
Of course, there’s nothing idle about the threat of another invention. This one also includes modern technology in the form of electrical current.
There’s nothing quite like the smell of burned cat hair in the morning.