I like squirrels and we have a lot of squirrels where we live. Our neighbors have named some of them. One of them is named Sam. He’s a cheeky fellow who will take peanuts from their hands, but hasn’t yet let me get that close.
We have a line of juniper trees in our backyard. I’m not sure if they were always meant to be trees or if they have just been trimmed and trained to be trees. The crowns of them are all intermingled and it’s easy for squirrels to go from one tree to the next.
We also have a cat. He was a stray. We have him mainly because he turned up badly injured one day. He’s got plenty of smarts, just not street smarts and we’re pretty sure he had some sort of altercation with a vehicle. I figure it was a pickup truck based on his very expressive dislike of pickup trucks.
We’ve made him into a house cat because he can’t be trusted not to get into trouble while out and about. So I let him in the backyard daily and monitor him the whole time.
A couple of mornings ago, I was standing a fair distance from the line of juniper trees when there was a commotion in the fourth tree away from me. Orange Kitty, also known as Mr. Fuzzy Pants, was stalking a grasshopper some distance from me with me between him and the juniper trees.
The commotion sounded like two squirrels having it out. And then one of the squirrels came down the line of trees toward me. The squirrel got to the last tree in the line, shot down the trunk, hit the ground and came running right at me only to pull up short about six feet from me with a look of total surprise on his face.
He sat up and stared hard at me. He was totally oblivious to Orange Kitty (OK) just a few feet from him in the squirrel’s five o’clock position. It was then that I saw that it was probably not Sam. Although, I’ve never asked our neighbors if Sam is short for Samantha.
Not Sam stood rooted to the spot for several seconds and OK became aware of her. I watched OK trying to decide what to do. Should he stay on the grasshopper that he was so close to catching? Or go after the squirrel? OK made up his mind, got into his I’m-going-to-pounce pose and then took after the squirrel.
OK got so close, just inches away, before little miss-I-don’t-know-what-to-do realized there was a cat behind her. She ran toward me and then realized that wasn’t really a good option and did an about face and headed for the juniper trees. She went right by OK but he couldn’t get a paw on her. OK never caught up. Squirrels are fast. I was relieved. I didn’t really want him to catch her.
In a flash she was up the tree, over the fence into the alley, and up the fence into our neighbor’s backyard where, hopefully, their dogs were not out. I didn’t hear a commotion, so I guessed that she was safe.
OK sat down in frustration and licked a few parts of himself and then seemed to forget about the whole thing. Right about then, a really big and noisy diesel pickup truck drove by (we live on a curve so we have a lot of exposure to the street in our backyard) and OK decided he’d had enough of the out of doors for the time being and nonchalantly, but very quickly, walked into the garage. He was standing at the door to the house and looked at me and said, “Are you going to let me in or what.” Except it sounded more like “Meow meh-rowww!”
The squirrels have had other encounters. Our dog, Maddie, alternates between being happy just to observe them and actively chasing them. My theory is that she is trying to confuse them so that one day she might catch one. Not going to happen. Maddie is fast. But the squirrels are faster. Thank goodness.
Thing is, none of this keeps them from coming into our yard, checking out the poplar tree where I put the peanuts and having a feast. And I’m really glad for that.