Let me start by saying I grew up with Ranger Rick and reruns of the Beverly Hillbillies. I always pictured myself as Elly May. I still don’t have a cement pond, but I have recently attracted a mother coon and her two youngins.
Ok, the mother doesn’t think much about me. Ok, she rather fears me. I suppose that’s a good thing considering her size. She flees every time I approach. Her kids, however, grew up watching me b
ring cat food out to the feral cats. Even though mama coon fears me, she’s got no problem teaching her kids it’s easier to eat cat food the human brings than to hunt & kill. I’m guessing that’s a good thing, too, as I’ve heard coons will kill cats and kittens for food.
I’m not sure how the coons got the word there was cat food here. Maybe the critters have a way of talking to each other and getting the word out. Interestingly, for years, I’ve had possums, which I affectionately call George’s in honor of George Jones. All the possums that have ever stopped by to eat cat food, regardless of sex, have been named George. Using this methodology, I suppose all the coons should be named Rick. Weirdly, the possums eventually stopped coming by, at least I don’t see them anymore, shortly after the coons started frequenting the cat food. Neither the possums nor the coons seem to bother the cats. Although, several years ago, I had one feral cat that would kill the possums and leave them for me. Gee, thanks!
As for the cats, I live in a rural county. I have a feral cat colony. It wasn’t always that way. A neighbor divorced, and they left their unaltered cats. I started feeding the ones that hung around, and I caught a few of them. They live indoors with me now. There was one really feral male left… until… he brought his girlfriend. It’s been 7 years now. I’ve caught one of the matriarchs, but one of her kin just picked up where she left off. I’ve caught some, kept some, found homes for some. Tried to trap some, but they don’t set off my traps. Not sure why.
The young raccoons are getting braver. One is braver than the other. One still hides from me. The other will watch me. (S)he will even approach me, which makes me nervous just slightly. I’m fully aware coons are big carriers of rabies. Not thrilled about that aspect. I have several places I put food and water out for the cats. These young coons are slowly finding each location. I’m sure they just follow the cats, if not their noses. I’ve noticed they use their noses quite a bit to sniff me when we are face to face.
A few weeks ago, I approached one feeding location, an old van, and the young coon hid under the van. As I was filling the food bowls, I got the feeling I should keep a lookout for the coon. Sure enough, there it was poking its head out from the front wheel well looking up at me. When I finished and left, it went in to eat.
Several days ago, in another old van, this brave little coon was waiting for me. It started to approach me which made me a little apprehensive. It’s little nose twitching from side to side trying to sniff me out or trying to sniff for the food I had. I don’t know which. I showed it the container I carry the food in and it kinda lunged at it. I don’t think it was trying to be aggressive. I think it didn’t know what it was or if it was dangerous. It was more of a defensive move. I was trying to make it back up a little; so, it wouldn’t do the same to me while I tried to fill the food bowl. It did finally back up a little, and I was able to fill the bowl.
I don’t mind the coons being around as long as they don’t bother the cats or become a problem. Rabies is what I’m getting at here. I’ve always thought they were cute critters. I try to be mindful of the potential danger in those precious little faces. I feel bad for them because it’s not their choice. They are, after all, just another of God’s creatures.
I love living in a rural area. City life is so boring… and noisy. I love the quiet of nature. Although walking out into the darkness still makes me feel like a child who needs to check for monsters under the bed, I enjoy the beauty of the land untouched, for the most part, by man.
[Disclaimer: It’s hard to take photos at night with an iphone and a flashlight. ;)]