Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New house rule: Check your prey prior to entry

Note to all household members and visitors:

It is a new house rule that all prey, living or dead, must be checked at the door prior to entry

This rule applies to all individuals regardless of the number of legs on which you walk.

And yes, this includes you, Mr. "little man" Socks...
don't be fooled by that cute, innocent face
Our previous cat, Luna, was quite the hunter. He brought us all manner of presents - living, dead, and somewhere in between (eeew).

Some favorites include the 1/2 dead baby squirrels he deposited on the living room rug;
mmmm...baby squirrel
the pile of feathers that was once a bird, left on the welcome mat on a windy day (I'm still finding little feathers in corners and under furniture);
and the nasty looking and even nastier smelling live vole that caused all 3 girls to stand on the couch and shriek.
Once again, don't be fooled by cute. Voles are nasty.
And stinky.
And nasty stinky.
However, the Socks-man is about 1/2 the size of Luna and, until recently, didn't show particular aptitude or interest in predatory behavior.

But in the last couple weeks, Socks has made contact with his inner hunter and feels he must demonstrate his love for us by bringing gifts. First it was 1/2 a bird on the welcome mat. Then, a few days later, a chipmunk minus 1 leg, again on the welcome mat.

Although its pretty disgusting to walk out the front door and nearly step on a partially masticated token of feline affection, the welcome mat is one of the least offensive options for depositing gifts. At least its outside.

And speaking of outside, we have a kitty door. We tried to teach Luna to use it but Luna acted like the kitty door was the gateway to hell and refused to have anything to do with it. Not Socks. He comes and goes at will - mostly to snack, and occasionally for a dose of Brenna torture, but mostly to eat.

However, now that he has demonstrated his true love for us in gifts he seems to think that means he i welcome to invite his "friends"inside for a visit.

Last night, Brenna was sitting at the table enjoying her dinner-snack (because snack  is so much tastier than dinner). I had gone into another room to get something, when BANG! something went crashing to the floor in the kitchen. I ran back into the kitchen and Brenna was staring, horror-struck, to her right. As I came running in, she turned to me, pointed back where she'd been looking and said, "Mommy!!"
I went around her chair and saw............................



And then I saw......................................................

A chipmunk.

Not ok.

The visitor was frozen in a position closely resembling a hunting dog pointing toward a recently downed duck.

Socks was sitting tall and could not have looked more proud of himself if he'd been able to stand up on his hind legs and say, 'Yeah, baby. That sucker there is MINE! I caught it all by myself just for your enjoyment.'

He had apparently brought this gift in through his kitty door and knocked the cover for the door over as he jumped in.

My response: "Oh! Lun...Socks! Chipmunk! Dude!" (yes, I have an advanced degree.)
Brenna: "Mommy! We don't bring chipmunks into the house, do we?"
Me: "Uh, no, we don't. You're right." (It's important to establish boundaries.)

Meanwhile I am wondering what I am going to do with a perfectly healthy but frozen with fright chipmunk, and how the hell I'm going to get it out of the house.

Instead of doing the obvious: open the back door, grab a broom and sweep Sock's gift out the door, I did the, uh, stupid. I ran to the front porch, grabbed my gardening gloves, ran back inside, and attempted to grab the chipmunk so I could throw it out the door.

Needless to say, this was a bad idea and I was completely unsuccessful. I went into the grab without the predatory authority necessary and the chipmunk was instantly shocked out of his frozen state and into a panicked run....straight across the kitchen and living room, into my bedroom and directly under the bed. Gotta love the open concept floor plan.

The cat and I took off in quick succession in pursuit, with Brenna yelling in the background, "Mommy! We don't let chipmunks into the house!And not squirrels either!!"


Our bedframe sits no more than 3 inches off the ground. Plenty of room for a chipmunk. Not quite enough room for a cat. And certainly not enough room for a human.

Socks takes up tiger mode - pacing from one side of the bed to the other, crouching down on each side to look under the bed.

I go into CSI-Atlanta mode and grab the small flashlight from the side of the bed, throw myself flat on the floor, and peer under the bed sweeping the light from side to side.

Aha! There, hiding between the bed leg, dust balls and the powerstrip is the chipmunk. I run back to the kitchen, grab the broom, run back to the bedroom and poke the broom under the bed toward the chipmunk.

In retrospect I'm not sure what I expected to happen when I shoved the broom under the bed toward the chipmunk but what I didn't expect was for the chipmunk to take off in a blur at mach 3 and disappear.

Evidently, Socks didn't expect this either and remained in the bedroom pacing the bed. In his anxiety to get to the chipmunk, who was no longer actually under the bed, he managed to pancake himself and squeeze under the bed where he had to log-roll to move. I watched him briefly as he rolled deeper under the bed - first right-side-up, then up-side-down, then right-side-up again.

Realizing the futility of his mission, and figuring it was his problem to figure out how to get himself out from under the bed, I took the flashlight and went on a mission looking for where the chipmunk might have gone. When I did not find it in any closet, the bathroom, or behind any of the bedroom or bathroom furniture or doors, I gave up.

Socks soon did the same, once he realized that all he was menacing under the bed was dustbunnies and a chapstick that had rolled under the bed weeks ago, and he wandered back outside.

So, now I had a chipmunk inside and a cat outside. Fan-tastic.

Before bed I did another CSI sweep through the house with the flashlight and found more dustbunnies and some small lost toys but no chipmunk. I went to bed.

5:13 am - I am awoken by high pitched squeeks that sound like they are coming from the foot of my bed. I turn on the light expecting to be confronted with little beady black eyes staring back at me from the end of the duvet. But apart from seeing my feet, there was nothing to see.

5:15 am - More squeeking. I realize the sound is coming from outside the bedroom in the living room. I tiptoe out of the bedroom and stand in the middle of the living room. More squeeking from the corner of the room. I tiptoe forward and see the cat has cornered the chipmunk behind the endtable.

It's 5:18 am. I have established that the chipmunk is in the livingroom, which means it's not in my room. Good enough. I go back to bed.

8:30 am. I have taken Brenna to school (after reassurring her again that chipmunks aren't supposed to come into the house). I need to switch the carseat into my mother's car so she can do pickup after school. We usually put a towel onto the seat of the car before installing the carseat and I have left a towel on the floor by the coat closet for this purpose.

yes, i am a chipmunk and
i am hiding in the towel you just grabbed
I lean down and grab the towel. Well, my right hand grabs towel. My left hand grabs something soft, fuzzy, warm, and BREATHING! I scream like the girl I am and throw the towel to the floor. Then I look down and am eye to eye with the chipmunk.

Upon hitting the ground the chipmunk proves that its species is not as dumb as it looks and has obviously learned something from his experiences the previous evening and it takes off. Once again I curse the open floor plan concept.

I run out and grab my garden gloves (again) and my mother grabs the broom (again - it is evident that while chipmunks are not as dumb as they look, humans on the other hand, learn nothing from their mistakes simply repeat them over and over) and we take off in hot pursuit of a 3 inch, 3 ounce chipmunk.We chase it through the kitchen, down the hall, into the family room and under a cabinet. Then we scare it out from under the cabinet, whereupon it runs diagonally across the room, under the couch and into the opposite corner where there is a milk crate of wires and crap that we have yet to figure out what to do with. The chipmunk is now stuck in the milk crate and trapped. Ha ha!

I reach down and grab with authority (see? I did learn something)...

I take my prey out the front door and with a "Fly! Be free!" I toss the creature into the grass, run back to the house and slam the door.

Sayonara chipmunk!

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