The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

Dearly Departed

Oliver aka Ollie-bum.

Oliver aka Ollie-bum.

Keira

Keira – a frequent guest in our house.

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?”

Uh, oh.

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.

 

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54 replies

  1. Because of both wild animals and cars, I always kept my kitty inside. It’s a shame small pets can’t enjoy the outdoors too, but the coyotes are just doing what comes naturally to them. I’m so sorry your neighbor lost his cat (and, probably cats) in such a horrible way.

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  2. I am so very sorry………………

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  3. It honestly makes me crazy that we humans keep insisting on anthropomorphising animals who are governed by instinct. Indoor cats don’t “suffer” but wild animals that go hungry do . . . The Scorpion and the Frog is a classic tale:

    “A scorpion asks a frog to carry him over a river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion argues that if it did so, both would sink and the scorpion would drown. The frog then agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out that this is its nature.” wikipedia

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    • It makes me crazy, too. And sad.

      Your comment prompts me to add this side story: around the time of Keira’s disappearance, another upset was brewing in the north part of town. A cat-hating neighbour was trapping and relocating people’s cats to a rural area about 10 minutes from town. These animals were cherished pets, beloved family members. The police had no influence since the guy was within his rights to deal with “varmints.”

      My point – there are those who have no understanding of an animal’s suffering. Then there are those who have no concept of the bond between species.

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  4. We keep our cats inside. for years, we had foxes and coyotes prowling the neighborhood. Once overrun by feral cats, now there are none to be seen. Our dog usually has the run of the yard, but lately, we are trying to keep her from chasing the rabbit family living nearby.She doesn’t need to hunt to survie, but she doesn’t know that. I’m sorry for this man’s loss, that is very sad.

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    • Thanks Dan. It is sad. Ollie and Keira were in their early teens. They had a tough life here at first with the cat-hating Previous Owner. It took Ollie three years before he ventured in our yard. But now there is a well worn path from South’s yard to ours. We fed his cats, he fed ours – Keira spent most of last winter in our house and Ollie always helped me hang the laundry on the line. 😦

      We have three cats in our care – all of them were strays that wandered into the yard. Once they have that taste for the outdoors, it is impossible to keep them inside. I regret that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. How sad. Cats love to wander outside, but now your neighbors will be scared to let them out, rightfully so. Poor kitties.

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  6. Beautiful cats. I have a soft spot for the orange ones. Sorry to hear of their disappearances.

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  7. Unnerving, to say the least. I’ve stopped walking on our local creek path because over the last year I’ve spotted coyotes on the other side – a small leap away – staring at me and my cat-sized dog.

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  8. This is really sad, Maggie. I remember meeting Keira … she was such a lovable and friendly little furball 😦
    I think I will hug Theo a little closer tonight.

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  9. Coyotes were part of my daily life in California, either on the hiking trail or in my neighborhood in the mountains. Sometimes they were actually hiking buddies but I never forgot they were not dogs and were not pets and should NEVER ever ever be invited into the human world. They’ll feel welcome, but they aren’t welcome. It’s cruel to be kind. I think your neighbor made a big mistake. Those choices often lead not only to dead cats but dead coyotes. It’s sad in every direction. I’m so sorry for your neighbor who lost his kitties. 😦

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  10. Sad news. We don’t have to worry about coyotes here, just the ocassional racoon. Very sorry for the loss of those kitties 😦

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  11. Oh dear. I get circle of life, risk you take, etc. but still sorry to hear this.

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  12. So very sorry for the lost cats. Perhaps contacting an animal control person could help relocate the coyote family to a woods further from people before a child gets harmed.

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    • Hi Deb, and thanks. You know, I thought that would be the answer, too, way back when the coyote first made an appearance. Now, here’s an interesting sidebar to this story. My hubby has always maintained that the “coyote” was a domesticated dog. He was alone in his opinion, but I used it as a means to get animal control to come trap the animal. You see, they would only attend to an injured animal if it was a domesticated pet – not a wild creature. The guy came out, saw the “dog” and said, “can’t help you. That’s a coyote. Even if we could, we’ve had reports from other neighbours on the street. He’s eluding all traps they’ve set.”

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      • Have you ever thought of shooting it? I’m not in favor of that kind of solution unless it is a last resort, but if one comes in my yard I will protect my pets.

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        • It hasn’t crossed my mind, to be honest. We don’t own a gun. Nor is it allowed within city limits.

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          • Another reason why I enjoy the country living! Perhaps if you tell animal control you’ll shoot them, they will decide to help…probably not. We do have an agency that will (department of natural resources) who tries to snare the critters and relocate them. They are currently trying to catch a coyote someone tried to make a pet and put a pink collar on. The pup is no longer a pup and the collar is too tight and imbedded in its skin. So far as I know DNR has not been able to catch it. They are smart WILD animals..not domesticated ones. Good luck when the babies come.

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  13. We do get attached to our cats. I feel for your neighbor.

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  14. Oh, Maggie. I am so sorry to read this. I cannot even think of the poor cat’s last night out there; it breaks my heart.

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  15. I’ve never had cats, but I’m curious. My daughter lives in NYC, and her cats have never crossed the threshold of her front door. Are cats conditioned to stay inside ? Is it instinctive for them to wander out or is it a survival tool ?

    Either way, so sorry for the loss…we grow so attached to all living creatures, said by the lady whose resident rabbits have ravaged a garden. ☺

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    • Now that you mention it, I’ve had cats all of my life and they all enjoyed time outside. Demanded to be outside, actually. So I cannot speak to the special challenges of training them to stay indoors. But I know it’s doable. My aunt’s cat never stepped foot outdoors.

      Good luck with the bunnies. 🙂

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  16. We have hundreds of coyotes around here. No one let’s their animals run free. My neighbor had a large sheep dog (he raises sheep) and the coyotes lured him out into the mosquito refuge and killed him. The only animals who get the better of the coyotes are donkeys. Beef farmers keep donkeys in with their cattle and it is not unusual for them to find a stain in their pasture where the donkey stomped a coyote into the ground.

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  17. It’s wonderful and terrible to be an animal lover. On the one hand, it’s nature for all of them to roam, yet it’s nature for all of them to hunt and be hunted. So is the way of Sadie and our squirrels and bunnies, so is the way of the bunnies and a giant cabbage baby, so is the way of Ollie and the coyote. 😦

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  18. I am a huge wildlife fan but I do not feed any of the visitors. I may in deep winter offer seed or fruit to the birds but by and large there is more than enough food to feed the locals. It is such a shame that good intentions turned sour.

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    • I love nature and wildlife, too. As a matter of fact, I am craving being out of doors more than usual these days and am indulging the urge.
      I understand the folly of feeding animals. I don’t put out food for anything but the birds… or so I tell myself. But when forced to confront the truth, I know taht where the birds flock, so do other opportunistic creatures – the entire food chain is out my kitchen window.
      Then I tell myself, “As it would be – whether I fed the birds or not. ” Unwittingly, I make it easier for the predators to find their prey. Which, if listen to myself talk in the post and comments above, is a bad idea.

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  19. Fortunately we don’t live in an area that has that kind of large predator. Unfortunately, the worst predators around here are cats.
    As humans we keep bumping up against natural habitat (more and more) which can only cause strife in the long run.
    I’m sorry about your neighbour’s cats.

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  20. Wow. Sorry about the cat. But. I love coyotes and feel they have as much of a right to exist as cats or humans. In my county more than 90% of the land has been altered by humans yet people still complain about wildlife ‘intruding.’ How much is enough? I think the answer is that people here (don’t know about your area) want it all.

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    • Yeah, as I said above, loss is loss, regardless of the players involved. I don’t have an animosity toward the coyote – I just regret… well, what is it that I regret exactly – I suppose, I regret my role in Ollie’s disappearance. But even that isn’t accurate. I think you are on to something with the “wanting it all.” It’s complicated.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. I’m really sorry, Maggie. Having softened my cat-stance a bit, I better understand now your feelings. Siamese, Russian Blues, and Cornish Rexes have worked their way under the gate with their devious ways. It has even been reported that I have called cats over, and held them on my lap, talked to them, and fondled their furry little heads, knowing I would need to wash my hands and clothes afterward.
    Having been stalked by a pack of coyotes at night while with another fully-grown adult woman, I can also say I’m none too fond of them. But Maggie, even though I am sorry for your pain, and I do understand the charm of having a living kitty making the rounds of a neighborhood, dropping by to visit, I do not agree with the practice.

    I respect the role of coyotes in the environment. The cats we call domestic, on the other hand, have been shown to be extremely harmful to the environment, killing massive numbers of the small birds, lizards, and mammals which keep more than one ecosystem it in balance. If there were no other reason to be against free-roaming cats, that would or should be enough. But there are others: People do live in close proximity. To each other. To traffic. Free-roaming cats are injured in terrible ways. Free-roaming cats of some owners who refuse to neuter them odiferously mark the houses and property of others. Free-roaming cats, known agents of toxoplasmosis, defecate freely in where people, including pregnant women and children, can be exposed. (Yes, I admit that this was terribly concerning to me when cats repeatedly entered and defecated in our walled backyard when my boys were free-roaming toddlers having adventures on the grass and in their sandbox and in the garden back there.) We people would not think it okay to defecate freely just anywhere. Why do any of us think it’s okay when our pets do so on the property of others?

    An indoor domestic cat is a safe and happy cat. Unless you live in a yurt on a frozen steppe, a farm in the middle of a wheat or cornfield, or a boat on the deep blue sea, please keep your kitties inside with you.

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