Some Evening Visitors

Last Friday night I was on the couch watching TV with Rufus on my lap (one of our 3 cats).  Out of a deep snooze he suddenly went “on alert,” as he often does, having heard some noise at the other end of the house.  This happens a dozen times a day.   Someone pulling into the driveway, a feral cat noise outside, a particularly loud bird, the upstairs neighbors arriving home, or just something one of our other cats is doing can prompt him to get into his cautious “must investigate” mode.  Off he went to the bedroom to check it out.

A few minutes later I heard a strange, unidentifiable sound.  “Is one of them throwing up?  What IS that?”  I head back to investigate myself.  No cat puke on the floor, and nothing seems amiss, yet the boys are oddly quiet and sitting in the floor looking at me and at each other.   “What’s going on back here, boys?”

Figuring they were just into some sort of harmless mischief, I go back to the TV.  A few minutes later – scratching.  Really loud scratching that sounds like it’s claws on a window screen.  I run back to the bedroom, and they are still sitting on the floor in front of the window, looking curious and perplexed.  I look all around for evidence of something they might have gotten into – cardboard box containing files…could it have been scratching in the litter box?…what the heck?  Then I turn around to look out the window – ( maybe one of the feral cats was up on the porch or even scratching at the screen?) – and I see, about one foot away from me, sandwiched in between the iron bars and the actual screen (about a 4″ – 6″ space) what looks very, very much like THIS:Two baby raccoons smushed up against the screen, just sitting there looking at me.  Holy moses.  I look at them, I look at my cats on the floor…everyone is perfectly calm except for me.

“WHAT do you think you’re doing??”  I yell at them.  Nothing.  I grab a can containing pens and shake it at the window…the loud noise scares them away and they go scurrying off through the porch, knocking a few things over on their way (but not any plants, thankfully!)

We had seen two baby raccoons on two other evenings last week.  They were wandering through our yard and driveway.  I assume they were looking for food.  Both times we came out with a flashlight and chased them off.  They never made it to the garbage cans, and only once did one head in the direction of my compost bin.

In utter disbelief at having realized these guys were the source of the scratching -at-the screen-noise, I went back to the TV but turned it down.  I wanted to see if the loud noise scared them off or if they’d come back once I left.

All was quiet.  Too quiet.  I waited a few minutes and came back.  Telly (a former feral cat himself) was sitting in the same windowsill, sniffing around and chirping the way he does when he sees cats in the yard – it’s an excited, curious little sound.  We’ve always thought it seemed he was trying to talk to them or get their attention.  He always gets lovey dovey when he sees them and never seems scared or defensive.  When he was in foster care before I brought him home, he was known for loving every single cat there.

So it wasn’t an aggressive sound in any way, just curious and eager.  But there was nothing in that window.  Or the other nearby windows.  Phew.  “It’s okay, Telly.  They’re gone. (and they’re not your friends!)”

But wait – Telly commences to stick his head up around the window glass and look up (window was about halfway open).  I do the same.  Sure enough, about a foot above my head is a baby raccoon.  He had climbed up the iron bars and was trying to see if there was a way in up there.   Fortunately there was NOT.

I run to the other window where I can get a better view of the porch.  Three more babies are there, watching their sibling carrying on.

I go back.  I yell at him.  I shake the can of pens, a can of coins.  The three on the porch take off, but this one stays up there.  Unbelievable! Slowly, slowly, he or she started making an attempt to get down.  I think she got herself up there and couldn’t figure out how to get down.

I closed the window and arming myself with the flashlight and a the coin jar, I ducked out the back door, closing the first door behind me but keeping the screen door open and standing halfway in it.

I’m now about 3 feet away from this rascal, who is still trying to descend the iron bars to the porch.  Shaking, yelling – nothing seems to speed its progress.  I took the opportunity to just watch.  I know that these creatures can grow into big, rather mean pests, but it was an awfully adorable little bundle of banded fluff, I must say.  A bundle of fluff that I hope as it becomes an adult will stay out of my compost bin, leave the feral cats alone, stay out of any winter shelters I put out for the feral cats, and cease any further attempts to gain entry into our HOUSE.

Needless to say, that window gets closed now at dusk.  I have not seen our visitors back at the window since then, although that doesn’t mean they haven’t come by to try again while I’m not there.

We feed our boys right under that window, so that must be what they were drawn to – the smell of cat food.  Wow.  We may need to move it.

The landlady told me that “years ago” they discovered a raccoon living in the basement. (!!!)  Evidently they figured out how it got in an “took care of it.”  I sure hope so.

They warned us we would see raccoons on the property.  “This far from the cemetery?”  we thought to ourselves.  “No way.  They won’t come up this far – we’re 5 blocks away.”  Guess we were wrong.

I don’t know where they are living, but there is obviously a family.  They’re cute and relatively harmless NOW, but once they are grown I worry that they’ll be destructive.

We can deal with protecting the garbage cans if necessary, but I hope they’ll stay out of the compost bin.  I really want to provide a safe, warm, dry place for the feral cats.  I have plans to trap them next week – I have appointments to have 5 of them neutered.  Once they’re neutered the howling and fighting should subside, and they should calm down.  We don’t mind them on the property and I’d be happy to provide some shelter for them, but I’m concerned now that the raccoons might take the shelters over.

I feel bad for any animal having to struggle for food and warmth and safety, especially in the winter, but I must say I believe the raccoons have a leg up on the cats in this department.  Will they stay with their family? Do they have a den  or a nest somewhere nearby?  Will they try and live in shelters if I put them out for the cats?  I guess we’re going to find out!

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4 thoughts on “Some Evening Visitors

  1. Thanks, Bev! I’ve been reading up on it. As long as our house is completely safe and they can’t get in anywhere (I think we’re in good shape there), then I think we just have to learn to live with them and keep garbage tightly sealed and keep compost scraps well covered. Maybe I should think about making a lid for the compost bin….

    From what I’ve read, relocating them isn’t a good option, for them or for us. It sounds similar to feral cat (and other animal) populations – if you remove them, you create a vacancy that others will be happy to fill – and there are no shortage of raccoons in Brooklyn, particularly this close to Greenwood Cemetery.

    Hopefully the folks on the block who feed the feral cats remove any leftover food after feedings – most cat colony caretakers know to do this for a number of reasons.

    We can protect ourselves and our house, I just want to protect the outdoor kitties, especially during the winter. Poor things. I hope the raccoons will stay in their dens and leave any winter shelters alone. I’ll have to make the entry hole VERY small.

  2. I’ve seen a raccoon deep into the Sunset Park waterfront industrial area, on first ave and maybe 45th st. It was near the dumpster of sahadi’s factory.
    I’ve also seen possums near my place.

    A garden city is a small wildlife city!!

  3. It is indeed! Can’t believe you’ve seen them way over there. I guess you build a dumpster and they will come…

    As long as they leave the feral cats alone, I’m happy to live with them. 🙂 I was *this* close to accidentally trapping a raccoon last night when I had traps set for the ferals so that I could get them neutered.

    I heard the small clickety-snickering noise they make and looked out the window (from my post!) and there one was, making ready to nab the tuna. What would I do if a raccoon came into my trap? I don’t think I’d have the heart to call ACC…they would just euthanize him. And I don’t think relocating works well. I would probably just release him, assuming I could get that close to him/the trap without incurring his wrath!

    Too bad they don’t have a sterilization program for raccoons the way they do for cats. ASPCA? Where are you?

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