Friday, December 08, 2006

Marauding Raccoon!

The milkhouse is the small part jutting out in front. The raccoon tracks were found on the far right.

It's been a while since I posted, partly because this is such a busy time of year with Christmas preparations. However, we’ve had quite a week here on the farm! I've tried not to make it a long story...but it's quite a saga and I couldn't seem to condense it to just a few words. So my apologies for being so long-winded.....
The trouble began on Tuesday morning when 2 of our barn cats were viciously killed. My husband found the first one in the barn when he went to feed the cats very early before he left for work. He left a note for me to check on them if I had time. Luckily I wasn’t called to sub that morning so up I went, feeling horrified to think an animal had attacked one of our cats, and hoping I’d find the rest of them safe.
Several of them had been afraid to come in the barn when Ross fed them, but now they followed me inside. A head count had me breathing a sigh of relief to find most of them there, looking skittish, but alive and well. The milk left in their dishes was icy cold (I’ve felt like we’re living in the frozen tundra this week with the frigid winds and temperatures we’ve had), so I carried it to the house to heat it up, and was gone about 10 minutes. When I returned a terrible sight awaited me…another cat had been attacked! I won’t even try to describe my horror at this point! Finding no sign of the intruder after a quick check with pitchfork in hand, I herded the remaining cats into the milkhouse where they would be safe and placed the food dishes in there with them.

Alice and Pete

I then called Ross at work to pour out my tale of woe, and he suggested I call Leo, a friend of ours who is a trapper. He didn’t answer the phone so I left a message. I then thought to call our neighbor, Wesley, who is my friend Chris’s son and works 1o minutes away on the family farm. He came right over and brought his gun.
He found tracks outside the barnyard door that looked like they might belong to a possum (they can sometimes get really mean), but there was no animal to be found. The only thing to do then was close up the barn as best we could and hope the critter didn’t return.
Leo, our trapper friend arrived a little later and found more tracks in front of the barn down by the place where the manure spreader is kept. He thought it was either a raccoon or a possum. The animal had obviously come up the bank from a brushy area and gone into the barn through the large opening above the spreader after Ross had closed the barnyard door earlier, blocking that entry.
Leo and I checked the barn and then came back out to the spot where he’d seen the tracks. He looked over the bank…… and there was the culprit: a very large raccoon, half hidden under a big log!

Dinner time! Lily is the little light colored calico on the right

As we looked, it backed out and peered right at us, seemingly unafraid. Unfortunately Leo’s gun was in his truck 50 feet away so he hurried to get it. Meanwhile the raccoon and I just stared at each other while I willed it to stay put, wondering at what a beautiful, innocent-looking creature it appeared to be…fluffy and healthy….not at all as I imagined a cat murderer should look. But alas, just as Leo approached it turned and ambled under the log and off into the brush. Try as he might Leo couldn’t find it, and we failed to entice it back out into the open even with a raw hamburger. Leo set a trap that evening and we secured the cats in the milkhouse again, resting easier with the expectation that come morning the marauding coon would have met his maker and peace would be restored once more to the barn.

Dear old Grady

Early in the morning I hurried to check the trap….and to my great disappointment found it empty!
For the past two evenings we’ve repeated this procedure and still the raccoon has not been caught. We haven’t found any new tracks so maybe the animal has left the area, but the thought that it’s still out there somewhere, perhaps awaiting the opportunity of another cat meal, makes us very uncomfortable. Leo removed the trap this morning and I’m relieved to have that deadly contraption gone, even though the coon is still at large. With the snow we now have on the ground he thinks he may be able to track the coon and find its den if need be. What a blessing it is to have such good friends and neighbors as Leo and Wes, who are willing to go out of their way to help us in a time of need.
On Tuesday morning I brought Jasmine into the house and thankfully Ross has agreed to let her stay. I told him there’s no way I was going to lose that cat to a murdering raccoon! We’ve always had at least one cat in the house until a few years ago when it became convenient to leave them all in the barn so that we could travel and stay overnight with the kids without having to worry about a housecat.
She acts as though she’s always lived in the house and has made a very smooth transition. She’s a ‘talker’ and loves to cuddle. So far she seems to like Ross’s chair best for sleeping. He says he smells better than me :)
I wish I could bring all the cats in and keep them warm and safe, but of course, that’s just not feasible. I’m feeling blessed to have at least one.

Jasmine...the pampered one! Posted by Picasa

Of our 20 barn cats 17 are now accounted for. Poor sweet Alice and dear little Lily were killed, and dear old Grady is missing. If you click the link on Lily's name you can see the lovely picture that my friend Judith took of her when she visited the farm in October. Cleo and Sophie were missing but Cleo showed up last night and Sophie came into the barn this morning. What a relief it was to see them! Sophie and Toby are limping and each has bite marks on the sore foot. We’ve given them penicillin shots and Toby is feeling much better already and is eating well. Sophie was starving and feeling poorly this morning, but was acting much better and eating hungrily this afternoon. She has just had her first shot this evening and with luck, will be feeling better tomorrow morning. We hope and pray the raccoon wasn’t rabid, and so far the evidence leads us to believe it was probably just hungry.
The poor kitties have been terrorized but they seemed happy and secure in the milkhouse tonight. Let’s hope tomorrow and the days following will be better and safer for them.


Jeanette said...[Reply]

G'Day Kerri.
Hope you are able to catch that Racoon. (I have never seen a Racoon)Before it gets or harms anymore of those lovely cats you have there.
Its hard to imagine your having snow, we have heat and raging bush fires here. Take care

Sue said...[Reply]

Dear Kerri,
When you emailed me about this I felt so bad. I called Bill into read it. Neither of us knew that coons could be so vicious...
I'm so glad that the other kitties seem to be on the mend, but feel bad for the ones that you lost. :-(
So much going on here. I will try to update or email soon.
Love and ((hugs))

Anita said...[Reply]

Oh Kerri, what a sad sad story! I always admire all your kitties and I am glad that you now have at least cute Jasmine in the house. I hope the raccoon won't come back and your cats have a save home again.

jellyhead said...[Reply]

Goodness me, what drama...a marauding cat-killer no less!

Here's hoping the raccoon stays away for good.

Anonymous said...[Reply]

It doesn't sound like you have had a good week at all I hope it is all over with now.

Anonymous said...[Reply]

How horrible that they were killed and left for you to find! The fact that you saw the raccoon during the day worries me a little. I know you'll be watching the cats closely. It probably wanted the cats food and I can't see how you can leave food out for the cats without attracting it. Every trick I can think of for catching a raccoon would also catch a cat. You could try a have-a-heart trap with fruit. Even if you caught a cat it wouldn't be harmed. :(

I'm glad Jasmine is in the house. I wish I could come and borrow two or three others but John's allergic to them. I hope the raccoon has just moved on.

Val said...[Reply]

It must be very unsettling for you, so sorry.

Tanya said...[Reply]

What a terrible time you've had. I always thought raccoons were just a pain because they'd get into the rubbish bins and make such a mess (at least, that's all the bother they created for me when I lived in Canada). Hopefully it's been scared off, never to return.

Rachel said...[Reply]

Poor cats and poor raccoon! We have cats and raccoons here but I have never known of them fighting. Usually the cats just stay clear of the raccoons I think. Cat food they will definitely come for. I always bring the food in at night to keep the raccoons off the porch. My neighbor and I always feed the raccoons, tossing bread and any leftovers over the fence for them. They are pretty tame and I have fed them from my hand. I hope the raccoon there has moved on and this doesn't happen again. Poor cats! They are all so pretty!!

Tammy said...[Reply]

How awful for you and your dear kitties!!
I had no idea you had 20 of them, I knew you took a lot of pictures but I never kept!! I loved the picture of Lily and at least you have that to remember her by.
I've got a new kitten, turns out the landlord would only permit one so we kept the friendly one that has much the same habits as your Jasmine. I posted his picture today and we are wondering what to name him...drop by when you get a chance and help us out!!

Anonymous said...[Reply]

So sorry to hear about the cats that were killed, but a racoon will eat anything if it is hungry. I guess we can't hold it against them, because they are wild animals - still it is a shame that the coon killed the kitties. I hope the rest of the pack can avoid the racoon if he returns. The snow looks so beautiful and cold!

Anonymous said...[Reply]

oh I am so sorry you have lost your beautiful cats. I hope you get that raccon or it moves away.

Annie in Austin said...[Reply]

Oh, Kerri - what a creepy thing to find the cats like that. Are you sleeping at night or just jumping out of your skin thinking about it roaming out there?

As tuffenuf says, the raccoon is just being itself, a wild animal ~ and along with the pleasures of living close to nature in the country comes the reality of tooth & claw in the natural world... but how sad for Kerri's lovely cats.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

PEA said...[Reply]

Oh dear Kerri, that is just so terrible what's been going on over there...I can't even imagine your devastation at finding some of these wonderful kitties killed. Raccoons are indeed known to be vicious...we had one hanging around our yard and sleeping in one of our trees for a few days and finally managed to make it go away. They do look cute but not to be trusted. Hopefully you will have no more problems with it and the rest of your cats can be safe!! Much love xox

Linda A said...[Reply]

I'm so sorry about your cats. I guess as our populations grow and animals search for more rural areas, they come closer to 'our' territories.. My friend in Massachusetts has to be very careful of her dog periodically because of hungry coyotes. When we lived in MA, one night a raccoon got into our hen house and just killed about a dozen chickens and ducks.. took none.. just killed them.. Its always sad.

LostRoses said...[Reply]

I used to think that raccoons were just bumbling nuisances, knocking over trash cans, raiding the birdfeeders and fishing in my pond. Until a few years ago when several cats (including one of mine) disappeared in the neighborhood and a coon was caught in the act. I've never felt the same way about them since!

So sorry about your kitties.

Motherkitty said...[Reply]

Kerri, dear, I'm so sorry about your beautiful kitties. I would be devastated as I know you are. All your cats are so beautiful and it's a shame they were terrorized by a wild animal.

I'm sure that 'coon was just hungry when it came around and knew lunch was served by all the cat food left out. I once found a large possum feeding on my front porch and it scared the fire out of me when I saw it. Possums are very ugly. I have never faced a 'coon, but I imagine any wild animal would react like that when confronted by a bunch of cats. Maybe this 'coon had babies of her own in her den and was just hungry. Hope you catch the 'coon very soon. I also hope it wasn't rabid.

BTW, you are braver than I in injecting your animals. Just the thought of sticking a needle into one of my cats makes me sick. I can't even stand to watch when the vet injects them.

Kerri, I hope you and Ross have a better week and your little problem is resolved without more injuries.

I wanted to tell you that I'm not all that organized with my Christmas preparations. I loved your comment on Jelly's post. I hope you really don't "hate" me. I would gladly come help you get your Christmas cards in the mail if that would help.

Hope your Sunday is a blessed one. Please give Jasmine a scritch behind her ears. I'm sure she will love it.

Linda said...[Reply]

First of all, you are a wonderful story-teller - but I'm sorry it was such a sad story. I didn't know racoons would do such a thing. You're right - they look so cute!! I really hope the guys can find it and put your mind at rest. In the meantime, I hope all the kitties will be safe.
Have a better week!

Connie and Rob said...[Reply]

Poor little cats...There is always someone trying to upset the happy home. My dad was always trying to explain to me how country kittens had a different life then city ones did. I was the one wanting to bring in all 20 gathered on the steps on our farm in Tennessee.

Sounds like you have some wonderful neighbors/friends to help you try to catch the raccoon. Hope he went back to the wife and

Take care,

Abandoned in Pasadena said...[Reply]

Kerri, I really had no idea that possums would attack cats. We have a possum that eats the cat food while the cats sit nearby and watch. Jimmy said they are very mean. I hope that you catch the racoon responsible or that it decides to move on to greener pastures. It's very sad to lose kitties that you love and in such a horrible way. I wish I was there to comfort you, but I'm sure that Jasmine will bring you great comfort as she sits on your lap and purrs.
Sending Big Hugs to you and to Ross and praying for better days ahead for you both.

Wendy A said...[Reply]

I woud have the same problem. The poor coons are just trying to survive. Poor kittys. What to do??? I wonder if you could trap him and relocated the coon if he came back. We had them in Canada and they can ve really vicious

Alice said...[Reply]


HORIZON said...[Reply]

Sounds like you are having a real time of it Kerri. So utterly sorry to hear about your kittens. l hope this coon keeps his distance. Can imagine how you felt when you went back with the warm milk- shock and horror for sure.
Beautiful photo of your barn in the snow dear friend.
Keep warm xx

Marlene Depler said...[Reply]

Just catching up on some of my favorite blogs!

What a saga! I didn't know racoons would attack cats. Hope your cats are now safe.

I gave up planting sweet corn in my garden because the racoons would eat it the night before I planned to harvest it.

Karen said...[Reply]

Oh no! What an awful thing to have happen. I hope Grady is okay and just hiding somewhere. I'm so sorry about poor Alice and Lily. (That photo of Lily by your friend Judith is just beautiful, by the way.) Unfortunately a lot of wild animals are too smart for traps and it seems like this one is not going to take the bait. I hope with the help of your friends you can remove that menace from the vicinity!

Alice said...[Reply]

Hi Kerri (sorry, I was too tired to finish last night ... lol) - I hope there is one less raccoon in the world by now, or at least this one has decided on a different prey.

I get the good thing to come out of all this is that you now have company in the house (apart from Ross, that is!)

Alice said...[Reply]

Just when I don't preview the comment there's a glaring mistake - drat. " I guess" not "I get" .... grrrrrr.

Anonymous said...[Reply]

Kerri, what a bad story!


Tammy said...[Reply]

It's Friday the 15th and I just thought I would drop in and say have a Purfect Day!!

Seeing Anew said...[Reply]

Kerri, I am marveling at how brave you are, out there with a pitchfork looking for the culprit, and then standing face to face with him later while your friend went to get a gun. What a shock you must have had when you came back from the house only 10 minutes later to find another cat had been attacked. I had no idea that raccoons could be so aggressive. I am going downstairs to check that my kitty is okay after reading your chilling story.

By the way, your winter photos are beautiful. It is such a thrill to read your blog and learn about daily life on your farm. You must be further upstate than I thought you were -- you've had a lot more snow than we have had here in Ohio.

We are just back from a series of trips -- one to Salt Lake, one to Southern Ohio, and one to Hawaii -- so I have not been online very much. I hope to get back to regular visits to your blog as well as postings of my own. I've enjoyed traveling and seeing mountains and islands and oceans -- but oh it's good to be home in our quiet, peaceful, rural neck of the woods.

Merry Christmas! And I hope that your old raccoon is GONE!

Dianne said...[Reply]

I'm sorry about your cats-it breaks my heart because you love them all and give them names (I love kitties too). What an ordeal!

Anonymous said...[Reply]

Hi Kerri! My friend Sue, from Susie's Space told me about your blog and recommended reading this post. I'm so sorry to hear about your barn cats. Last night we lost two chickens to a fox (we think) that got into the pen. There are two more who are injured and they're all shaken up. It broke my heart, because even though they are chickens, we have become rather fond of them. And of course, we feel so responsible for their well-being. I can only imagine how you must have felt (and how you feel) to have your cats threatened by a predator. I hope your raccoon troubles are gone.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...[Reply]


Judith Polakoff said...[Reply]

Dear Kerri,

I am ever so sorry to hear about the poor beautiful cats, and especially little Lily! I grew rather fond of her, and a little attached, just trying to take her picture that day. I can't imagine such a thing happening to my own sweet Smokey girl. We had a racoon in our garage several years ago who wouldn't leave no matter what we did, so finally my husband called the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) and they told him to leave an open bottle of ammonia in the garage, that the racoons can't stand the smell, and he was right! It only took several hours and that racoon took off, never to be seen again. We had tried catching it in a "humane" trap, but the racoons are too smart for traps.

In any event, call the DEC if you ever need advice about these kinds of things. They know how to get rid of/trap anything!

By the way, I'm sorry I haven't posted to your site in a while but I've not been able to post to any Blogger site for months now. I think, though, that I've finally figured out what was wrong... we'll see if this message goes through.

Wishing you and yours (including the kitties!) a wonderful and joyous Christmas and holiday!