Sunday, August 8, 2010

An observer to the Cat Club

Inariko, a red vixen, sat deep in the bushes watching the members of the Cat Club at their meeting.  She was lonely and really would have liked to join them, even though she wasn’t a cat.  There weren’t any foxes around this area, at least not foxes like her and she’d discovered  she really couldn’t travel too far from this yard where she’d found herself. 

At the Cat Club Peep brought up a concern.  “I’ve been seeing a fox around here in the last week or so.  It seems to be a youngish female, and thank the Great Cat I’ve seen no evidence of a litter.  By now the kits would be out and about and we would have seen or heard them.  If you know of anyone with kittens, make sure they guard their kittens well.  I’ve heard foxes regard kittens as one of the best foods, particularly if they’re well fed kittens.”

Bunny seemed the most concerned.  “A fox?  Here in our neighborhood?  Won’t she hunt us down?  Oh my, I may never leave my house alone again.  I’ve heard terrible tales of fox predation.  They run down their prey, tear them apart and take home the good parts, leaving the rest in a bloody mess.” 

LT looked at Bunny in amusement.  “That’s exactly what I’d say to describe a cat's hunting behavior.  We run down our prey, tear them apart, eat or take home the good parts and leave the offal.  That’s what carnivores do.  And as for a fox hunting us down – most of you are about the same size as the average fox. Do we cats hunt prey that’s our size?  No, we hunt things that are smaller or have no defenses.”  LT flexed his claws, “Cats have excellent defenses.”

“I could take down a fox any time I wanted to,” bragged Fuzzy.  “A fox is no match for my superior intellect and razor sharp claws.”  To demonstrate those claws, he began cleaning them vigorously. 

Peep, who loved everything and everyone, was concerned about the way the conversation was heading.  “I don’t mean we should try to hurt the fox.  We just need to make sure she doesn’t eat anyone we know.  She might be a perfectly nice being.  Since we’re all house cats, we don’t even need to eat the prey around here, so there’s no real competition for food.  I love to chase things, but I usually don’t kill them.  She’s welcome to the frogs and chipmunks after I’ve done chasing them!”

Mr. Snoogums shook his head.  “There may not be any frogs or chipmunks left if there’s more than one fox.  They could eat the area bare and leave nothing for anyone else.”

“Nonsense, Snoogums.  No sane creature overhunts its own territory.  They want to leave enough adults so there will be another generation to eat.  It would be different if it was a famine time, but despite the recent lack of rain, we’re not there.  Plus foxes eat grains and just about anything.  I’d be more worried about your garbage bags.  Make sure your human is putting the bags in cans, or you could find it strewn around the yard every morning.”

“Enough about a fox only Peep has seen.  If she presents an actual problem we’ll deal with it then.  Have any of you seen any bee or wasp nests?  Just because the Mommy didn’t come home this weekend, it doesn’t mean we can let them move in and nest in our yards.  Reports, please.”  LT got them off the fox topic.

No one had seen any bee or wasp nests, although that may have been because they weren’t being as thorough as LT.  Greymalkin, who had agreed to return to the meetings, said she’d heard there were some nests in a yard next to hers, but the Mommy never went anywhere near there. 

The meeting ended, and the cats hung around chatting in small groups and helping themselves to smackerals of the squishy food the Daddy had put outside before he’d left. 

As the cats softly chatted, Inariko thought about their conversation.  She’d need to stay away from Fuzzy, even though she was pretty sure he was a bully who would run if she just bared her teeth at him.  Peep seemed to be a very nice sort.  Gentle, open minded.  Inariko decided she’d keep watching these cats.  Maybe they had something to do with why she’d found herself here in this part of New Jersey. 

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