|Awww, look how adorable this spawn of Satan is. It's like he's wearing a mask!!!!!!!|
Last night, it was relatively early, it had just gotten dark. Child 2 and I were in the kitchen and the door was open; we have a deck-type thing right off our kitchen door with a chain link fence behind it and some big trees. Anyway, the door was open and we watched as a Mama raccoon and 2 babies walked past the open door, across the fence and up the tree. Child 2 was delighted, to say the least. "AWWWWWWWW," he says, "look at the raccoons! AWWWWWWWWW!!!!" I did not sputter with surprise and disgust, in order to maintain an air of calm, and just watched as the demon creatures slowly walked by our OPEN DOOR.
Raccoons: they suck. Here in the flatlands of Berkeley there are a SHITLOAD of raccoons during spring and summer. They come into the house through the cat door and there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it. The people who live around here think these fucking things are their pets, so they leave food out for them (and, I shit you not, when they go out of town they actually will ASK YOU TO FEED THEIR RACCOONS WHILE THEY'RE GONE.) So the raccoon population is not only smart, as raccoons are, they're also practically domesticated. But when they come in the house to eat the cat food, they make an enormous fucking mess of the place. They eat the food and they wash their little paws in the cat water (ok, that's actually kind of cute, at least in theory, but not at 7:00 in the morning when I come downstairs to a giant bowl of mud) and sometimes they just fucking trash the place for fun, I think. They break into bags of food and if they're energetic enough they'll go through your garbage, take the stuff they want and then scatter the rest of it all around your house.
So, what do we do about our nightly invaders? Nothing, really, there's nothing we can do. We can't block off the cat door, which is the simplest option, because we have 4 cats and no litterbox and they need to get outside to crap (well, we might actually have 3 cats now; I'll get back to you about that next week). What used to work was this thing where you take a radio and set it to NPR (any talk radio will do but this is Berkeley so NPR is kind of the law) and put it on the floor near the cat door. The raccoons will hear the voices and think there are people inside and not want to come in. The problem with this option is that 1. raccoons are really fucking smart and over the course of the summer will eventually figure out that it's just a radio and not a person and 2. the raccoons around here have no fear whatsoever of humans, so they really just don't give a shit if you're in there or not. You've got the cat food so they're coming in the door after it; that's just how it is.
For a while, when we only had 1 cat, we had one of those fancy magnetic collar thingies that the cat wore around his neck; the cat door was locked closed with a magnet and when the cat gets close to it the thingy he wears unlocks the door so that only he can get in and out. The problem with this version, however, is that raccoons are really fucking smart, and they figured out that the door isn't actually locked and all you have to do is press this little button thingy with one paw and then you can lift the door open with the other. But opening the door like this was was a bit of a process for them, so whenever we would come downstairs and try to chase them away, they would bolt for the cat door and find themselves locked in. They're smart, but apparently not rockets scientists, because when trapped like this none of them could ever figure out how to get the door open to escape, so they would then turn and run in a different direction... FARTHER into our house. And then we would be stuck with this fucking panicky raccoon running around our house, which is SO much worse than just an empty bowl of cat food, so we got rid of this option.
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