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More Fun With Critters

These are cute little fellers, when they aren’t INSIDE THE HOUSE

We’ve had quite the spate of bad weather lately – too much rain and tornado sirens going off on average 2 times per week.  We got another soaker that started Saturday evening and carried through all day Sunday with heavy rains that only let up for half-hour intervals before the next violent downpour.

The storms themselves don’t bother me all that much except for their propensity to really pick up steam right when I’m ready to eat dinner.  It’s hard to enjoy your meal when you’re having to pop up every few minutes when the sirens go off.  Aside from that, the biggest problem I have with violent storms is that they absolutely terrify kitty.  I’ll sleep right through the storm – but if the cat starts howling in fear, it wakes me up.  When it’s a prolonged storm, typically I just fish her out from under the bed and put her under the covers and go back to sleep – for some reason, it calms her to be next to me, at least enough that she quiets down.
Anyway, we were having quite the fun time on Sunday.  Eartha had spent Saturday night under the covers and these thunderstorms just continued to roll through the entire following day.  Around noon, we had one of those brief reprieves and she insisted on going outside, so I let her go while keeping an ear cocked for thunder.  If I don’t get her in the house when it starts, she hides under the house and I can’t get her back in until the storm lets up, which sometimes can be hours.  So when I heard the thunder start up again off in the distance, I immediately went to call her in.  She came dashing through the door so quickly that I failed to register – until she was inside the house – that she had something in her mouth.  I ordered her back outside but she wasn’t having any of that – it was THUNDERING out there!  She runs into the absolute worst place in the house – the central hall – and dumps her cargo.  It was a chipmunk, and it was just laying there, at least at first.  And she’s just sitting there watching it from 3 feet away.  Before I could even think of what to grab to scoop it up, it came to and dashed past the cat into the living room.  Apparently she had just caught it before coming in and so had not yet gotten to the fun part of it, where she got to play with it until she killed it.  This was one hearty, hale, and healthy chipmunk!
So now, it’s a Sunday, there’s another massive storm bearing down, and I have a rodent in the living room.  The cat pretty quickly forgets about the chipmunk as the thunder gets closer; she has more important things to do like find a place to cower in fear.  To add insult to injury, once the storm passes she decides it’s time for a nice nap – it’s like she’s forgotten all about her furry friend she brought home.  She slept for the next 3 hours (in spite of periodic hectoring on my part) while the chipmunk made a few ventures (that I saw) out from behind the massive bookcase/TV cabinet unit to explore the living room.  I had, of course, blocked off the exits, hoping to be able to at least keep it in one room.  My plan was that if the critter survived until the next day in the house with the cat, I’d call the Humane Society and see if I could borrow a live trap. 
I went and took a shower, and when I came out, kitty was up and about – but she was in the kitchen, staring intently at an opening at the base of the dishwasher cabinet.  So intently that I concluded that somehow, the chipmunk had either made it around the barriers (or been carried) from the living room to dining room/kitchen.  She even tried to crawl up under there – now I was having visions of making an emergency call to the plumber on a Sunday to pull out the dishwasher to free the cat.  The chipmunk’s locale was confirmed a bit later when I heard piercing shrieks coming from the kitchen, but alas, no capture of the critter by the kitty.  Eventually, after several hours, the cat got bored with staring at the hole and wandered off, only to resume the vigil later for another several hours.  This in spite of my pointing out to her that sitting a foot in front of the opening wasn’t all that great of a strategy – the chipmunk would get close enough to see her, shriek, and retreat again.
That’s where things stood when I turned in Sunday night.  After making sure the barriers in the kitchen/dining room doorways were secure, I went to bed and Eartha did, too.  I figured I might wake up to piercing shrieks in the middle of the night, or to an eviscerated carcass somewhere in the house the following morning.  Instead, everything was quiet overnight except for more storms.  Monday morning, no sign of the critter.  I call the Humane Society to see about borrowing a live trap – they tell me they don’t loan them out anymore.  Great.
So as I’m back in my bathroom getting ready to go out and buy a damn live trap, I hear the shrieking – but it’s way closer than the kitchen.  I make two passes through the house looking for the cat, and finally locate her behind the washing machine in the back hall laundry closet.  How the hell did it get back THERE?  Somehow it managed.  After removing the cat and blocking off exits to the hallway, I flushed the critter out from under the machines by running a yardstick back and forth to force it out.  Then it shrieked at me.  Those little fuckers are fast!  I was trying to trap it under a towel, herd it into a box, anything.  No luck – it could get back under the machines before the towel hit the ground.  Also I learned that the bastards can jump; I almost had him once and he made an impressive 2-foot high jump, which explains why I wasn’t able to block him into a room.
Finally I settled on a “herding” strategy:  I would close off the closet and bathroom doors in my bedroom, open the door to the patio, and open the door between the hallway and the bedroom.  I flushed him out from under the machines again, and he took the escape route into the bedroom.  After closing the door to the hallway, I used the yardstick to herd him from under the bed towards the door – he ran into the corner where the bathroom door is and scrabbled and shrieked for a few seconds, then I herded him towards the outside door.  Then – VICTORY!  It only took about a minute to get him out once he got into a room where the outside door was the most attractive and obvious option.
The chipmunk in this case had the very best possible outcome, considering that he entered the house in the mouth of a cat.  As for the cat, as much as Eartha pissed me off with her nonchalance about fixing her mess, it was pretty impressive to me that she always knew where the thing was.  What’s really strange is that even though she didn’t see the chipmunk leave the house, she’s not gone back to even look for it.  Somehow she just knows it’s not in the house anymore.  I don’t expect that she’ll ever repeat this – she’s quite the killer, but her habit has never been to announce her kills – she just dispatches them and leaves them at the door where she knows I’ll see them.  The only reason this one got brought in was the approaching thunderstorm, and if I hadn’t called her, she would have just taken it under the house with her.  As for me, I was able to get the thing out of the house without having to go buy a trap, and consider that I got off rather lightly.  I mean, it could have been a rat she brought in with her. 
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  1. B^4
    May 3, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Had a squirrel in the living room once- it was hilarious, though a disaster.

  2. Smut Clyde
    May 3, 2011 at 7:45 pm


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