Friday, June 09, 2006

Raccoon Envy

Today our cat caught a chipmunk. This wasn't the first time it has happened, nor will it be the last. It's unfortunate and sad and really a whole host of other things, but "thems the facts."

I have a big heart and a small house, and thus we have four indoor/outdoor cats. Spayed, neutered, vaccinated, flea-treated, well-fed, curious cats that love to go outdoors and chase bunnies away from my vegetable garden, frolic after butterflies and fireflies, climb trees, people watch, nap in the sun, eat grass, and unfortunately pester the local wildlife. That's just what cats do.

Short of tying cowbells around their necks (one cat has FOUR bells!) there isn't much more I can do to help alert the wildlife that our cats are afoot. Despite my jingling efforts, our dear Friendly Friend cat caught a chipmunk while we were outside enjoying the nice weather, and the girls begged and pleaded with us to try to save it. Not only should we save it, but we should SAVE it. Coddle it, bandage it, and nurse it back to health. We've been down this road before, many times, but not with such fierce enthusiasm.

After Einstein had scooped it up into a box, and Sunburst began talking excitedly of vets and chipmunk poop, did I realize what was really going on here. She has a huge case of Raccoon Envy.

My mom was recently given a family of baby raccoons that had been nesting in an attic. The mama was startled away by some roofers when they tore the roof off the house, and well, now someone has to feed them. Enter my mom.

She has the biggest heart in the world, and she can't say no. This is where I learned it from. In the past few years she hasn't said no to four dogs, eight cats, four indoor birds, one crow, four bunnies, two horses, a hen, a rooster, and one ugly duck. Those are just the animals. She currently lives out in the country in California where she has been homeschooling my three younger siblings. They've got a lot of room, a host of ground squirrels, and a 92-year-old man to keep them entertained.

And now she has baby raccoons, four of them. They need to be fed via syringe all day long, like babies. They're only about four weeks old. Once they start eating solids on their own, she can turn them over to the local wildlife rescue. Until then, she's chasing them around her bedroom and massaging their bellies with warm washcloths and feeding them.

Sunburst has seen the pictures and spoken at length on the phone with my mom about them. She has asked every question she could think of, including a thought-provoking discussion on rabies. Sunburst is certain they don't have it, by her own calculations, and I hope she's right, given that my mom has already been bit.

They're cute, I have to give her that. Baby raccoons are adorable, fuzzy, ferocious little creatures, and she wants one. Just one. But if all you have is a chipmunk, well, I guess it will have to do. For now.

*That's permanent marker on their heads to tell them apart.

** For more fun with wild pets, check out The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets by Jean Craighead George. We've been reading this one over breakfast. It's simply fascinating and humorous, and yes, my mom did send it to us. Why do you ask?

***As if the homeschooling opportunities related to such things weren't obvious enough, my younger (albeit much taller) brother is making the most of raccoon-style learning HERE. The raccoon mileage is apparently limitless.

1 comment:

  1. OH, for the love of Pete! What a rolling pair of eyes can do for lifting the spirits and elliciting a chuckle! Bravo to your younger and taller brother.

    But, on the more serious and practical side...I feel for Sunburst. I'm sure she's completely positively SURE that she knows just what wee chippy needs. You're passing on that big heart, you know.


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