Austin, United States

I have spent most of my career as a French professor and a research librarian, and have been reinventing myself as a writer. I’m...

Masked Bandito Gang at Night With UPDATE!

I had a great surprise last night. It taught me that there are more eyes watching us than we might imagine, and our behavior noted and action taken based on it.

It all began, actually about a month ago when I came across a cat near the dumpster. I wrote about it in a previous blog. She was a skeleton with fur hanging off of it. That shocked me. I could clearly see that not only was she starving to death, she was nursing at least four kittens. I was deeply moved. She had not abandoned her babies, despite the fact that she obviously was desperate for food. So I spoke to her gently, and told her by word and action that she could come to my place and I would feed her. She didn’t come right away, but later in the day, despite the fact that she was very untrusting and wild. She still isn’t exactly tamed, but now she shows a kind of friendliness that she did not have before.

So this starving, nursing cat, after a few days, brought her kittens to my patio. Four of them. How sweet it has been to watch them play and grow. They were very under- nourished at first, but in a month’s time, all have put on weight. However, for the first few weeks, despite all they ate, they did not show any weight gain. They were seriously starving. Now, the babies eat out of the main food supply, along with kitten chow. Did you know that kittens need to eat kitten chow for the first year, because it gives them the building blocks they need to grow? They also eat around the clock, when they have the opportunity.

But around here, as I mentioned, there are spies outdoors, those who see everything that is happening, and they act upon that information. So after 10:00 p.m., the kitten chow is likely to be stolen from the kittens by banditos. They wear masks, and they come in gangs. The cats get very angry about this, and I don’t blame them, because as soon as things seem to settle down for the night, the bandits arrive. In fact, they are out there right now.

As I said, I put food out for the mother cat, who was really the cat equivalent of a teen pregnancy when she got pregnant, because she’s so small and young herself. And she has FOUR KITTENS.

So last night, I heard quite a crunching at my door and slipped the door open to see the banditos for myself. There before me was a mother Raccoon with FOUR KITS! The baby raccoons are small, so they can’t be very old. The first thought that went through my mind was that the mother Raccoon had seen everything from the tree outside on a high perch. She had observed me feeding a mother cat with four kittens. She decided I would also feed a mother Raccoon with four kits! I had to laugh! All in one fell swoop, I saw that she had a great understanding. In the past, it has usually been adult raccoons who come to eat, but this mother decided that four was an acceptable number, and the number of her ktis was four. See, apparently raccoons can count also. Interesting, very interesting. But please, don’t give them money! They’re not allowed at the local convenience stores! :P She is imitating the mother cat with four kittens! In fact, those kits may not all be hers, since raccoon females frequently group together with their babies. But she certainly understood FOUR. She was here last night and again tonight. She wasn’t too afraid of me. I moved slowly with my camera, though I have to say that the camera was inadequate to capture the sight. Then too, they avoid the flash.

So mother raccoon finished the kitten chow that remained outside, she and her kits, and then kind of hung around by the stairs waiting to see if I was going to replenish the dish. No, definitely not. I cannot feed five raccoons, and have no desire to encourage it. The kittens used to play on the patio at night, but since the advent of raccoon banditos, they have stayed hidden around that time. Raccoons are dangerous. They will kill kittens and cats. I think that’s how one of the papa cats died, defending his babies from raccoons, because I had heard some horrendous fights and tried to intervene. The claws on a raccoon are notorious. Anyway, they’re fascinating to watch. There is another problem in that they carry a certain kind of bacterial worm that is very bad for humans. It can cause all kinds of problems. So I take precautions, but will not encourage the raccoon banditos to hang around.

I’m still mulling over the intelligence shown by the raccoon mother. And they are so curious. One of the ktis showed a great interest in coming into the apartment, and came right up to the door. I told the little one that he was not allowed in the house, and I said it gently. He understood and backed away. He’s probably heard it before! The kits are adorable. I couldn’t believe how small they were, and especially one of them. When they would startle, mother raccoon would place herself in front of that baby, completely hiding it from my view! But when they felt it was ok, the kit showed a great interest in me and the apartment.

I know. I’ve heard how notorious raccoons are. They’re cute and intelligent, but dangerous. They’re wild animals. I guess we’ll see how things progress. There was barely any food left out there this evening. Mother raccoon was disappointed that I didn’t replenish the food. I’m trying to make sure there isn’t any at all by the time they arrive. I don’t want to encourage them. I don’t want them going after the cats. I sprayed insecticide after they left.

But what a revelation, eh?


After some meditation, I made a few other amazing observations about the raccoon situation and the kitten situation. I looked back through the photos I’d posted, and suddenly realized that my last raccoon photo post was of FOUR ADULTS!

They sure did get the FOURS down, didn’t they?

Then I went to the grocery store and bought FOUR cans of cat food! UREKA! I realized that I had also bought FOUR CANS OF CAT FOOD the LAST TIME I was at the grocery store! It dawned on me that I was not the one training the raccoons, but it was the raccoons training ME! ACTUALLY, it was the KITTENS training me! FOUR KITTENS. Then I had ANOTHER thought! Are you ready for this?


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