Last night, as J and I were getting ready for bed, our smallest cat was crouching at the door to our balcony, growling. This cat is known to growl at her reflection, so I initially didn’t think anything of it. But then I remembered that our older female cat had come in from the balcony utterly spooked earlier in the evening, complete with poofy tail.
Our balcony light needs a new bulb (I keep forgetting to replace it), so I grabbed my trusty maglite, and I started to look through the window for anything that might be scaring the cats. When I didn’t see anything, I opened the door a little, and poked my head out, and then I saw it: a large raccoon.
We live on the second floor, so our balcony is not easy for critters to reach. Therefore, we have turned the balcony into a little haven for our cats to give them a little extra space. We even placed a small free feeder of food outside so that they would be more tempted to spend time out there. Unfortunately, this was a temptation for the whole animal kingdom, it seems.
I told J about our raccoon, and we tried to brainstorm what to do. It appeared to be stuck, but we needed to pick up that food before any other critters decided to join him. My brave wife grabbed the maglite and opened the door, shining it on the animal. He was clearly frightened by this and clumsily made his way up to the railing. She continued to shine the light on him, and he attempted to scurry down, falling on his way. I felt a little bad for him, but at least he was gone!
Then we went for the food dish to see what damage he had done. It was all gone. We had filled the thing earlier in the day with about two pounds of food. All two pounds had been eaten. The little piggy had had himself a feast.
But this is not the weirdest part of it all. It seems our raccoon visitor was litterbox trained. Earlier in the day, J and been cleaning the balcony litterbox and found a giant poop there–much larger than our cats are known to create. She found this curious but didn’t think much of it. After the raccoon left last night, she again looked at the box, and it was filled with pee (he had also consumed all of the water we placed outside for the cats and overturned the bowl). We’re grateful that he was at least considerate to use the box during his stay, which we think must have been a lengthy one based on our first cat’s reaction a few hours before bedtime. It just kills me that she was out there terrified while this raccoon stole her food, pissed in her box, and made itself at home on her balcony.
The funny thing is that I’m really not so stupid as to put food out for wild animals. I grew up in a rural setting in the Sierra Nevada foothills. I know that when food of any sort is left out that one is simply inviting critters of all kinds to come visit. I suppose I felt that things were more secure on our second-floor balcony in a rather populated apartment complex. Alas, I have learned my lesson once again and will no longer be feeding our neighborhood wildlife, but the public restroom facilities will remain.