By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
 Copyright © 1997-2010
All Rights Reserved

      I am an aggressive, highly communicative, extremely intelligent and rather modest black cat who lives with the family of cats domiciled for the most part (especially at meal times) amongst those who are cared for by Saint Belinda and her cook, Old Muldoon. My litter mates are Precious, Cowboy and Little Girl. I have been here about two years, and I know whereof I speak.

      Life here is extremely secure. In addition to Mumís careful attention, we enjoy the protection of Old Muldoon who, in addition to his cooking duties, is in charge of repelling boarders of every hue and stripe, whether human or animal. By and large, we cats give alarm at the encroachment of any intruders, usually by loudly howling and sometimes by actually engaging them in a howling, scratching punch out, frowned upon by Mum who is afraid that one of us may be injured in the process.

      Upon the giving of the alarm, Mum and Old Muldoon spring into action and come running out of the house armed with brooms and other articles of pseudo combat, which are expected to bring instant compliance with the regulations in force here. Inasmuch as the intruder is usually some stray cat looking for food or fun, those conventional confrontation devices suffice to bring the return of peace and harmony. Oh, I forgot to mention that in addition to the instruments of combat, there is a grand and eloquent vocabulary of cuss words, yells and rants calculated to give great offense to anyone or anything at which they are directed.

      Other articles of arsenal character are immediately available if required, but in the instances thus far they have not been needed.

      Not far from here there is an occasional construction project, usually developments of apartments/condos, and sometimes a motel or two here and there. Even though we live in the fourth largest metro area in the USA, it is spread out and contains many wooded areas. In these wooded areas live all sorts of Godís creatures, mainly squirrels, possums, raccoons and rats Ė your typical wooded area. When these are cleared for construction, the habitat of the wild things is destroyed and they go looking for other places to live. Frequently they go into housing areas and there ensues confrontation and other less than friendly encounters with what passes for humanity. It is usually by this process that the occasional family of possums or coons come strolling into the yard and into the garage looking for food and a nice place to settle down, enjoy the ambiance and the food, and drive out whatever may have been living there Ė in this case, US. That is the mise en scene for the confrontations that I call POSSUM WATCH.

      What Mum and Old Muldoon call the balance of nature is different here than it is in any other environment. Nature is what Mum says it is, and its balance is focused upon making life amenable for the very happy kitties that Jesus sent to her for safe keeping and care. All of us have heard her say to Old Muldoon that we kitties come first with her and that people and other animals are all dispensable. We donít know exactly what that means, but, from the way we are cared for we all suspect that she really loves us with all her dear heart.

      From overhearing his conversations with others, we believe that Old Muldoon believes that if it came right down to a choice of him or a kitty, he would have to go live elsewhere. Since he is acutely aware of this, he is rather compliant and easy going. Only when Mum summons him to deal with something that she would prefer not to deal with do we get to see the other Muldoon Ė the one who isnít charming, so to speak.

      I know that in his heart, Old Muldoon just canít wait to be summoned to a championship confrontation with some poor defenseless creature that poses no risk or danger to him. If anyone thinks that Italian comic opera is funny, they should see Old Muldoon confront a possum. There is tension in the air. Muldoon is limited in his arsenal to the use of his voice, while waiving a broom in the air, crating tones and patterns of sound calculated to instill in any creature a fear of imminent and overwhelming misfortune unless he leaves immediately. Verdi, in his opera ďIl TrovatoreĒ presents an aria entitled ďDi Quella PiraĒ that suggests what it is like when Old Muldoon meets a possum. We have no idea in the world where he learnt to sing and yell and rant like that. Mum says he once attended a military school at which yelling and screaming at people is the manner of effective social communication.

      So much for possums and other stray cats not of this fold, as they say. We donít have dogs to worry about because of the fencing. No dog is ever going to get inside this close unless someone leaves a gate open. That hasnít happened in over ten years, so we donít worry about it. There have been a few times, when some of us were very young kittens that a hawk would swoop down and try to grab a kitty and carry him off. Mum put an end to the hawk problem. She instructed Old Muldoon to make the hawks stop trying to grab the kittens. At the next appropriate opportunity, Old Muldoon emerged from the house carrying a long object of some kind that he pointed at the hawk. Next there was a loud bang, and we have had no more hawk problem since then. Sweet are the uses of Old Muldoon.

      All of which brings us to the subject of raccoons.

      Raccoons scare the hell out of me. Theyíre very smart and theyíre very aggressive. They will tear a cat to shreds. They love to move into any comfy place and when they do they take over. They tear up everything in sight to arrange it in their own way and they mark the place with their urine and poop. In short, raccoons donít belong here. There isnít a kitty here who disagrees with any of what I just said.

      Anyway, to get on with the story, one evening, late, around the time that Mum and Old Muldoon watch Jay Leno, there is a rough scurry kind of noise right outside the front door, where there is/was a stray cat feeding station. Mum rushed to the window in case there was some cat fight about to start that she would have to break up. There before her very eyes where four large and very tough raccoons having a dispute about which would be first at the food. I wasnít there to be in the middle of it, thank goodness, but I heard Mum and Old Muldoon taking about it later.

      Mum ran the raccoons off and quickly picked up the food station. Then she ran quickly to the back to remove the food stations from the garage so that the raccoons wouldnít go in there and attack us. Thatís how I know about this event. From that moment on, Mum decided that before stray raccoon feeding time at night, she would remove all the feeding stations. She still does that to this day, wanting to assure that the aroma of available food doesnít attract predators that might attack us.

      Now Mum began to feel bad that our ever present food on demand situation was no longer there for us at night. So she decided that she would make another visit to us in the garage every night and put the food out again for a half hour or so and sit there with us to keep us company and protect us while we enjoy our late evening snack, so to speak. Being the thorough person that she is, she instructed Old Muldoon to come sit in a chair right outside on the back patio with a shot gun in his hands just in case any predators might show up during her visit with us.

      Old Muldoon was in great anxiety because he knew that if a predator actually got past him and came into the garage, he wouldnít be allowed to shoot it. If he were to shoot a predator in the garage with that shotgun, there would be a great mess to clean up; or he might miss and shoot one of us; or he would most surely shoot a hole in the garage wall or the roof. The reason for his anxiety was really that he likes to enjoy a significant amount of wine before and with dinner, which makes him less than the most alert guard later on in the evening. Every now and then, Mum would poke her head out the garage door to see if Old Muldoon was actually awake and on guard or had fallen asleep and become utterly useless. You have to have been there to really appreciate how funny this scenario is. Just to give you an idea, he would sometimes bring a glass of wine out to sip on while standing guard until Mum brought that practice to a halt. She finally put a stop to it when he dozed and accidentally spilt his wine down his shot gun barrel. I think Mum was afraid he might accidentally shoot himself, making another big mess for her to clean up. So now he is on his post, alert, shot gun in hand, dressed in his house shorts and the shirt he wore when he made dinner, food stains on it looking a lot like military medals awarded for exemplary service.

      We have had two experiences when raccoons actually did get into the garage and set themselves up with intent to take up residence. Since inside the garage is a non shooting situation, resort must be had to lesser methods of dispossession. It starts with banging on ash can covers, shouting and tearing around by Mum and Old Muldoon. The language is different that we have ever heard in any other situation, and it is very loud. If the raccoon has just entered and not got himself settled in yet, just the banging and yelling might convince him to move out and hit the road. But if he/they have been there for a while before being discovered, they will have decided that this is indeed a very nice place and that they want to remain. They resist dispossession, and Mum and Old Muldoon have to go to plan B.

      Plan B involves shooting spray liquids at the raccoon to make it move on. The first level is simply water, and that actually worked once, coupled of course with all the loud noise, shouting and yelling. But, as you might expect, on another occasion, the water and noise failed to dislodge the blighter, and the situation escalated. This presents an enormous problem for Mum, as there are all sorts of repellant sprays available. Mum, on the other hand, canít bring herself to hurt an animal, so there is a limit to what will be sprayed on a raccoon. Old Muldoon was instructed to prepare a solution of some sort for application against the raccoon. His first solution was simply hot soapy water shot out of a toy water gun. There he was, like Stonewall Jackson of old, in his house shorts and stained dinner shirt, bellowing Italian curses which he knows will not give offense because no one near here understands Italian and discharging his load at the raccoon. The raccoon ran out of his perch, but not out of the garage. He found another corner niche where the walls and the roof come together. Old Muldoon was out of ammunition and raced back into the house to reload. Mum was loudly urging him to move faster, but of course he moved at post prandium speed. Back he came, shooting on the run so to speak and trying to remember the curses that Rigoletto heaped upon the courtiers of the Duke of Mantua whilst the Duke was entertaining Rigolettoís daughter.

      The second load didnít work. The raccoon just shook off the soapy water. Mum ordered Old Muldoon to concoct a new potion that would be non injurious but nonetheless extremely unpleasant to a raccoon. Back he lumbered into the house for something more exquisite to use against the raccoon. This time he came out with the water pistol full of the juice from a jar of pickles. After explaining to Mum what it was and satisfying her that it would not injure the poor raccoon, she allowed him to open fire while the tirade of expletives continued at full blast. We kitties had long since left the garage to watch and listen to this spectacle from the yard, way out of harmís way.

      Now this raccoon was obviously not a fan of New York delicatessen, and the pickle juice was more than he was willing to tolerate. He came flying out the garage door at full raccoon speed, jumped the back fence in a single bound and was never heard from since. Mum insisted that Old Muldoon spray the pickle juice remaining in the gun around the inside roof line of the garage to assure that all intruders had been accounted for. When she was satisfied that the coast was clear she called us kitties in that sweet, soft kitty speaking voice that she uses with us in the happiest of moments. We gradually sauntered back into the garage. Old Muldoon was hailed as our champion for the moment and for his reward was permitted another glass of red wine. He sat there in his lawn chair with a stupid grin. You would think he had just conquered some hostile country and was a returning warrior to be honored by an entire grateful nation. He sipped away until he started to nod off, and the evening came to a close.



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