John Howell 9/22/15

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Laurel Street cats trump ‘possums for entertainment

The home territory of the damncat colony on Laurel Street has shrunk as the house next door is nearing completion. Before construction, the lot next door and the house that stood on it were overgrown, offering much more to interest feline curiosity.

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On the other side, the family who bought that home have now installed lattice around their crawl space, blocking feline entry. Completion was a relief to my wife who had a fear of one of the damncat’s dying under the neighbor’s house. If I was not at home, and that is often, she would feel it her responsibility to remove the remains — once they had sufficiently deteriorated to force relocation. 

Then she worried that once the lattice underpinning was installed, one of the damncats would remain trapped there. Or one of the ‘possums. A family of the nocturnal marsupials have also established themselves in the same territory, growing fat on damncat food. My wife has decided that she also likes the ‘possums. With her, like is a matter of degrees. She hasn’t started naming them. 

Watching them — one so big that his/her face is as big as a pie plate — has convinced me that ‘possums are more pleasant to observe in the whole rather than in dwelling on individual parts.  They’ve got pinched faces, like rats. And a hairless tail, also like a rat but thicker. The fur that covers the rest of the creature is soft and downy-like. Unfortunately, fur does not cover their feet which includes long, wrinkled toes that appear to operate independently of one another. 

The ‘possum’s movements aren’t as graceful as the damncats. They’re blunt and clunky. All considered, I can’t recommend them.

Nor could I recommend two of the damncats that I’ve grown to know better this visit. One is Seizure Cat. I’ve written about her before. She’s a — they call them community cats down here, as opposed to ferals — who has occasionally suffered from violent, body-seizing fits that look like what a human goes through in a grand mal seizure. We have now twice observed that a loud, irritating noise triggered the fits with Seizure Cat. Once I was cutting on a charcoal grill with a jig saw. Recently, the sound from a worker next door cutting metal with a power tool. 

Otherwise Seizure Cat, like all the damncats in varying degrees, keeps her distance unless someone approaches bearing food. Even then she is still cautious.

Waterboy loses his feral caution with water. He follows Rosemary around when she’s watering, pawing at the puddles, drinking occasionally. During the weekend we placed an oscillating sprinkler in the yard, much to Waterboy’s delight. Sprinkling water makes most damncats relocate. Not Waterboy. He looked surprised when the water first starting raining down, but he just stood there. When oscillation moved the water elsewhere, he’ll just stand there and wait for it to come back. I don’t know how long he stood there, but the next time I saw him his fur was well-drenched.

And that’s the way things are on Laurel Street, where we almost had a September until August decided to return.