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August 3
1975 - Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital opens with 100 beds [story]
HMNMH


I have a cat, Titus, who is half Asian Leopard Cat, and half African Savannah. Needless to say, he is a handful. Recently, he discovered that raccoons come into our yard at night and party. They swipe my vegetables right off the plants, the fruit from the trees and munch out all night long.

I found it interesting that this cat, who was supposed to be “too vicious” to be in a household, would secrete himself on a dining chair, and face out towards the sliding glass door to quietly watch these bandit-masked creatures thriving on my pomegranates. The raccoons entertain him for hours at a time, climbing the trees, feasting on bugs, frogs, mice and fruit. Using their front paws to forage and eat, they are quite dexterous. I’ve seen Titus mimic them….sitting up on his haunches and picking up his food with his front paws. Of course, his stubby paws cannot compare to those of the raccoon, so his imitation activities don’t last for long. Raccoons have long, flexible fingers that can manipulate even the smallest item easily.

Most dogs and cats would defend their territory, and growl/hiss/charge the raccoons, but Titus just sits there, secreted in his chair, with only his nose and eyes visible beyond the back of the chair. In years past, I’ve had cats and raccoons fighting with only a window screen between them. Of course, I rescued my curious cats before any damage was done to the them. The screen, however, was always a total loss.

I often wonder if Titus is laying out his plan to finish those raccoons off. Or maybe he’s just wondering why they are eating all the strange stuff they eat. The raccoons have broken into neighboring trash cans, and they have left food wrappers, cans and ripped up plastic bags behind. They loved munching on my summer tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and green beans.

Titus and I take a walk in the garden every morning, and he knows every plant that he must sniff along the way. Maybe he thinks they are just weird, big cats. They can weigh from 15 to 40 pounds. Titus is supposed to weigh 45, but because he was kept in a tiny cage the first 6 years of his life (before I saved him), he’s only 11 pounds.

When the raccoons venture over into my “secret” garden, Titus secures a spot on the buffet with a picture window just above it. He gently parts the curtains and watches while the raccoons wade in my shallow pond, looking for fish, water snails, crayfish and the like. I used to keep koi and other fish in the pond, but they only lasted one evening. Then I tried crayfish. They too disappeared. The raccoons are still hoping I will restock the pond. Their favorite meal on this side of the house now, are my apples and guavas. During this season, they spend most of their time in those trees and bushes. They don’t touch the grapefruit, and they only eat the oranges when everything else is gone. You can always tell when the raccoons are here, because Titus’ gaze never wanders.

Raccoon predators are mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, and large dogs. Since I have none of these lurking about the back yard, they are pretty safe. They are also safe here from hunters and fast moving vehicles…..and of course, they are safe from Titus.

During the day, you might get a glimpse of them napping in the fruit trees, or foraging for a snack. But they are mostly active at night. The lifespan of a wild raccoon is usually 2-3 years. However, I’ve come to recognize some of them, and one of them is at least 8 years old…..so perhaps they are a little safer and healthier, living in my yard, eating organic fruits and vegetables and are not exposed to most of the dangers in the wild. Titus is certainly happy they are here. And I have enough fruits and vegetables for everyone, so I too am happy to have them.

 

Procyon lotor & Lycium carolinianum
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
2004-11-25

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1 Comment

  1. Laura J. Cutler says:

    Breakthrough Japanese study shows that cats can understand
    human emotions, even words
    Read More: http://tinyurl.com/learn-cat

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HMNMH
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