I’m in the market for a Super Soaker water gun, as we’re having a bit of a wildlife situation in our suburban backyard.
As our dog has aged and slowed down, the neighborhood cats have figured out that our backyard is no longer a death trap. I can totally excuse Shadow for letting her yard patrol slide, since she’s 15 years old. That’s 105 in people years. Who really expects great-grandma to get out do security sweeps, right?
I haven’t given the random cats much thought as they saunter through the yard, sunning themselves on the back patio. But recently, one of the cats has gotten VERY bold, staring me down if I shoo it away and coming quite close to the screen doors. This stranger cat has seriously upset one of my house cats, Monkey.
Exhibit A: Monkey
Monkey is a 14 pound, female Siamese. She’s a giant. Not Maine Coon big, but still, a sizable cat, and she is the master of all she surveys. Unfortunately, she surveys quite a lot out the front door that she can’t get to, and Stranger Cat has seriously been pissing her off. A few weeks back, Stranger Cat made an appearance after dark and Monkey lept from the couch to make a menacing gesture, hit the laminate wood floor, slid, and slammed nose first into the steel security screen door. It knocked her for a loop. I’m sure she blames Stranger Cat.
Stranger Cats visits have become so frequent, I should be charging him rent.
Shortly after banging her nose on the front door, Monkey’s least favorite holiday occurred: Independence Day. From a cat’s viewpoint, the world is EXPLODING. She spent the better part of two days hiding under the couch. Combined with Stranger Cat, having the world explode was more than she could handle, and she developed a nervous condition. (No, I’m not kidding. There’s a vet bill to prove it. But I’ll get to that.)
At first, I thought she had a UTI. I’ve got a lot of experience with cat UTIs. Fakefish has nicknamed my male cat “The Million Dollar Cat” because he’s has to be hospitalized so many times for UTIs. Not just vet visits, fullon hospitalization with IVs and catheters and sedation and ultrasounds and urinalysis and medication. Lots of pee expertise right here. With a huge sigh and a heart full of dread, I called the vet. (We have a great vet. She’s a mobile vet and comes to the house. How awesome is that? No panicky car rides in a shower of nervous shedding and panting. If you’re looking for a vet in Solano County, I can totally recommend Dr. Murray. )
Dr. Murray & her assistant, Debbie, came out the next day, and something was totally up with Monkey. She hissed at them and scratched. Whoa. She has NEVER done that before.
As best they could tell (Monkey was a lousy patient), it probably wasn’t a UTI, but it was a problem. Monkey now has a prescription for Prozac.
I won’t get into the great joy of trying to pill a cat. It’s right up there with teaching a pig to sing, only with claws. Thank heavens for Pill Pockets. They smell like a disemboweled camel and cost almost as much as the Prozac, but were totally worth it.
In addition the medicine, the vet advised me to try to chase off the offending cats. She suggested a water hose or Super Soaker water gun. It doesn’t hurt the animal and it gets the point across.
I decided to stick with the water hose, and yesterday was the first day I managed to catch Stranger Cat in the backyard. I tried stealth, but the cat skedaddled before I could get the water hose turned on. So, I went back inside and resumed what I was doing. A few minutes, Stranger Cat was back. Forget stealth, this time my tactic was speed.
I jumped up, ran through the house, out through the side door of the garage, which caught Shadow’s attention (old dog – it takes a lot to catch her attention, she half deaf and losing her sight). In typical dog enthusiasm, her ears went up, tongue hanging out, and was at my heels with the up-for-anything dog attitude. I grabbed the hose, which had the dog even more excited. She LOVES water. About the time I got the hose turned on, the cat spotted us.
The cat froze in its tracks when it saw the dog. The dog, being 105 and eager to play with the water hose, didn’t see the cat. I aimed the hose toward the invading enemy and the cat ran. I lost sight of it, but knew it was still in the yard because it hadn’t topped the fence. So I began spraying in its general direction, flushed it out, and got off one good blast as it tried to mount the top of the fence.
My actions even alarmed the dog. She shied away from me, sending me the message of, “That is NOT how we play with the water hose!”
Seriously, it was like an episode of Call of the Wildman. My old dog is even missing some teeth, so she makes a perfect Neal. I accomplished virtually nothing, but there was lots of running around, and I can’t be entirely sure, but there may have been a war cry. “Live action!” is now the catch phrase for “Michele is going into the backyard to act like a weirdo.”
I’ve nearly gotten a good soak on Stranger Cat twice since then, but the water hose method seriously slows me down. I am definitely getting a Super Soaker, to give me an edge. Stranger Cat is in trouble now.
Monkey has mostly recovered from her ordeal. I had to separate her from the other cats because she was so wigged out and refusing to join them at night. She moved into The Hobbit’s room. He doesn’t like to sleep in there, so Monkey may as well use it.
What I’ve learned through this whole experience is that a.) I haven’t lost touch with my inner redneck, and b.) my cat may be on Prozac, but I’m the one that’s crazy. Live action!