Many days had passed since we had had the run in with the injured fruit rat in the street. We were dutifully taking our compost out to the compost bin every few days and seeing no signs of furry critters. (We have a plastic, air-tight container in the kitchen we keep compost in until it’s full, which happens every few days.) We still had all of our rat traps set (4 in the garden around the now bare tomato plants, 2 outside of the compost bin, 2 inside the compost bin) and they continued to remain empty. We were feeling pretty cocky (well, I was feeling pretty cocky) thinking we had taken care of the problem. But, alas….
One evening I was taking the compost out to the bin, and a mouse scurried under some rotting produce. Here we go again. Sigh…
So, I stood in front of the open bin yelling for someone in the house to come help me. (By now, I have lost most of my fear and jitteriness of these furry little critters, and I’ve become angrily militant against these fruit thieves.) Mr. Sunshine and Sunshine Girl came running out. I instructed Sunshine Girl to get the pitchfork out of the shed, and either Mr. Sunshine or I (I honestly can’t remember which one of us) went to go get his oars out of the garage, while the other kept watch over the infiltrator in the compost bin. (A shovel, hoe, or pretty much any other sharp metal garden tool from the shed would probably have been a better choice, but apparently we now believed a wooden oar was the go-to weapon against rats and mice since it had performed so beautifully during our last encounter.) Weapons, er, tools secured, we proceeded to go after the mouse by stabbing the compost with the pitchfork (Mr. Sunshine) while the oar was used to block the exit (my job) for about 15 minutes.
To our disappointment, we never saw “proof” that this technique worked. (Surprising, I know.) So, now we have a mouse on the loose. And apparently he’s smart enough to avoid the traps we have set.
And then it occurred to me that we used to have 3-4 cats that roamed the neighborhood, and we didn’t used to have rats or mice (or at least we never saw them). But in the past few weeks I’ve only seen one of those cats.
So over the next few days, I asked my cat-owning neighbors about their cats. (Sounds like I was on a cat-hunt mission, but in reality I am outside all of the time, and talk to my neighbors very often.) One of the missing cats belonged to my neighbor across the street, and he was on his last legs (the cat, not the neighbor). So that accounts for one. She also owned the slacker cat that couldn’t finish the job with the rat in the street on Cinco de Mayo. That’s two. The neighbor next door’s adult son moved out and took his cat with him. That’s three. No idea what happened to the 4th cat. So now there may be only one cat roaming the neighborhood trying to do the job of 4. And this cat is obviously a slacker.
Can anyone else see the solution forming in my head? GET CATS.
Here’s where it gets tricky. I’m allergic to cats. Mr. Sunshine is less than fond of cats. And we both never appreciated outdoor cats (who insist on leaving paw prints on our vehicles any time we leave them out in the driveway for more than 20 minutes). But it really seemed to be the only solution at this point. Get cats. Set them free. They will eat mice and rats to survive.
Before you call PETA on me, relax. I didn’t get any cats and set them free. (Yet.)
What I did do was take my dogs for a walk one morning. (Stay with me here.) When I got home from taking the dogs for a walk, I let them off of their leashes to run around in the yard and chase squirrels while I sat on the swing under the oaks. While I was sitting on the swing, I glanced down the side of our house toward the back yard and a large, beautiful, golden cat walked around the corner and sat down and looked at me. I had never seen this cat in the 6 1/2 years we have lived in this house.
Not wanting to scare her away, I slowly got up and put the dogs in the house. While I was in the house, I found some salmon and put it in a small bowl and brought it out with me. When I got outside, the cat was still in the same location, so I put the bowl near the front of my garage and sat back down on my swing.
Over a period of about 30 minutes I watched this cat cautiously approach the salmon, and me. The closer she got, the more impressed I was with her. She was muscular. She had large ears. She had beautiful big green eyes. The dialog in my head went like this, “That’s a pretty cat. She looks like a lion cub. But not like Simba. She looks like Nala. So I’m going to call her Nala. Nala was a good hunter. I’m going to put salmon out every day so she likes to come to my yard. But not enough salmon to sustain her. Just enough to draw her here. Then she can feed on rats and mice for sustenance. Yep, that’s my plan.”
I don’t really know if this cat was a male or female, but because of my internal dialog, I am calling her a girl, and naming her Nala.
While she was approaching and eating the salmon, I tried to take pictures of her on my cell phone. (Unfortunately, I had pretty much fried my cell phone’s camera on vacation at the beach a week prior to Nala’s visit, so the pictures are not good at all.) But check her out below.
Here’s an interesting tidbit. After I told Mr. Sunshine about our good fortune to have a cat come visit our yard and how she looked so muscular and like a good hunter, he asked me some questions about her. Before I showed him pictures of her, he jokingly suggested that she might be a Florida Bobcat, or a juvenile Florida Panther. Ha! Ha! Ha!
Then he looked at the pictures. And said it’s not outside the realm of possibility. ha. ha. ha.
So, apparently I may have gone from having a rat/mouse-in-my-compost-problem, to a beautiful-stalking-predatory-possibly-wild-cat-who-would-probably-prefer-to-eat-my-dogs-to-a-rat/mouse- problem. All because I wanted to grow fresh organic produce.
Publix tomatoes aren’t really that expensive after all.