Yesterday, I saw neighbour South tromp across our rear yard, toward the north. “Hey, Mister!” I hollered, “You lost or something?”
He acknowledged me distractedly, “Did you hear about Ollie?”
It turns out Ollie did not come in for breakfast last Saturday. That makes two cats gone this year. First Keira vanished in April, and now her brother Oliver.
Poor South. He took me by the hand to show me the trampled earth where he figured coyotes lay in wait. He was heartsick. “Goddamn North! He …”
South couldn’t finish his sentence, but I knew what he meant.
You see, we’ve known about a coyote in our urban woods for over three years now. When it first came to feed at North’s deer food station, it was sick, lame in the hind end, mangy. I alerted North, “Watch out for your children and your pets,” but he wasn’t concerned. “He’s just some poor pup. He’s fine.” North put out scraps for the sick animal.
About a dozen cats lived in four adjacent households, and they enjoyed time outdoors. At first we were cautious, but when we noticed South’s Australian Sheep Dog and the coyote playfully chasing one another through the woods, we relaxed. Even the neighbourhood cats were fine with the coyote’s presence. One summer day, I happened to catch the coyote walking within inches of Keira and Oliver. They were vigilant, but not at all alarmed.
Things changed up this year. At twilight one early spring evening, I noticed a coyote in North’s yard, sniffing at the food station. Then I saw our lame coyote arrive. He playfully gave chase to the first one. Then, I saw two coyotes making baby coyotes!
I told South the very next day to keep his cats inside. Papa coyote might not be a threat, but Mama surely would be. South talked to North, requesting that he stop feeding the coyotes. North complied, but obviously, it was too late.
That’s why, I think, Neighbour South couldn’t complete his condemnation of Neighbour North. We have all been culpable. We both choked back tears. “He was such a great cat,” said South. “Keep your boys inside, you hear me?”
Last weekend, Susan Raven wrote about waking to the sounds of wild dogs making a kill. It is a chilling and wonderful post. I commented “Eerily, last night I heard the yips of coyote in our neighbourhood. I worried about the feral cat that hangs around our place. Today, he’s fine. Wish I could say the same for your grey cat.” The night in question was July 17, the last day anyone saw Ollie.
Categories: Weather Related