29 April 2010
The Cats and the Fox
A few weeks ago on a rainy Sunday morning, I let the cats out. It was early, about 7am. I heard a strange noise outside, some animal sound that wasn't familiar. Next thing I knew, Sammy was at the glass sliding door anxious to come inside. He meowed and meowed at me, so I went outside to find Shakti. I brought the remnant of a cat toy with a little bell on it, a sound that can get the cats to come from out of nowhere.
Sammy came outside with me, he was following my every step. I heard a faint cat cry. I looked up in the big tall pines that surround our backyard and to my horror, I saw Shakti clinging to the tree in a panic.
I kept reminding myself of something that a friends father told me decades ago, "Have you ever seen a skeleton of a cat in a tree? don't worry, the cat will come down."
All I could do was remain calm and see if I could convince the cat to shimmy backward down the tree. Initially, she was climbing higher but when she heard my voice and saw me at the bottom of the tree, she shimmied backward and rested on a branch, a rotten branch that didn't look like it would stay on the tree much longer under the strain of the cats weight.
Shakti watched me try to figure out how to get her down. Sammy climbed on the roof of my Garden Shed, pacing back and forth as though he was attempting to figure out a way to help Shakti out of the predicament that she had gotten herself into.
I noticed my husband's big extension ladder next to the shed, it is pretty heavy, but I lifted it and carried it into the woods. Using all of my strength, I lifted the ladder up to the tree. Shakti watched.
The ground below the tree was water logged from all the rain. It wasn't safe for me to climb the ladder in order to retrieve Shakti out of the tree. I looked up at the cat and said, "Shakti, walk down the ladder, come on, you can do it."
Shakti looked at the ladder and reached out with a paw. She stepped back, it was too steep for her. I moved the ladder. She came back, reached out with a paw and stepped back. I was freaking out by this point so I ran inside to wake up my husband. "Sweetie, Shakti is up a tree! I need your help with the ladder." My husband woke up, but he didn't get outside fast. It seemed to take him hours to come outside, even though it was probably just 10 minutes that had passed.
I ran outside to stay with Shakti and see if I could keep her from climbing any higher into the tree. I waited. I got impatient. The adrenaline rushing through my veins gave me the strength that I needed to move the heavy ladder so that it was at an angle where Shakti could walk down the ladder.
"Come on Shakti, walk down the ladder... you can do it." I said to the cat.
Next thing I knew, she was on the ladder! She walked down the side of the ladder, using the rungs to keep herself from slidding off and hitting the ground. I was able to pick her off the ladder once she was within my reach. She immediately began to purr. Sammy, he greeted us at the back gate... we all went inside.
I wondered what made her go up the tree, but didn't have an answer.
Within a minute, Shakti was at the slidder, looking back toward the yard and then at the slidder, she too wanted to come in fast.
Savita ran off to my mom's room. Shakti, she stood in front of me and screamed a meow, a long steady meow that had purpose. She looked over her shoulder and then back at me as she let out another long meow.
"What is it Shakti... is Sammy in trouble?" I said to the cat. She let out another very long meow.
I went down to the garage door and shook the cats little toy. The sound of the bell tingalinging brings the cats running. Instead I heard a strange sound. I saw what looked like a person with grey hair poke up on the otherside of the fence. Was I hallucinating like my mom?
I ran toward the fence, dressed in my nightgown and robe with no shoes or socks on my feet. Sammy saw me, jumped off the fence and ran toward me, then he vered off to the left, then to the right... what the hell was he doing?
Next thing I noticed was THE FOX IN THE YARD! Our fenced in yard! The fox had crawled under a large opening at the bottom of one section of the fence. I was freaked out. Sammy was hiding under a chair. I couldn't grab him. He ran up the back stairs with a puffed out tail. I ran up behind him, hoping that I scared the fox with my yelp. I grabbed the cat and went inside.
I never saw the fox leave the yard.
I've done some searching about fox and learned that the grey fox is on a conservation list. This means that it's not certain that they'll be around in the future. I also learned that this is the only fox that can climb trees.
Now, I won't let the cats out unless I'm in the yard with them. I believe the sound that I had heard was the fox. I found this YouTube video that does a great job of showing the fox and how its call sounds. Thanks to the Wild Life Callers for putting this video together.