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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Possum TV

Honey does not understand my interest in my laptop. I don't know what she thinks I'm doing when I sit there working. She'll lie down next to me for a while trying to figure it out. Sometimes she'll go get a toy and throw it around trying to encourage me to join in some real play. She seems concerned that I don't know how to entertain myself. There I am tapping on this object for an hour and I still haven't worked out a spot to chew on or initiated any kind of a chase.

But, Honey found her own entertainment this week: Possum TV.

One of Honey's two cat roommates, Samantha, prefers to eat outside. There is a sliding glass door onto a deck where she likes to be fed. I have always encouraged Honey to ignore the deck - my feeling is Samantha is looking for a little quiet time and privacy and doesn't need a pitbull looking through the glass as she enjoys her meal. And Honey complied until three nights ago.

Samantha didn't finish her dinner and I forgot to bring it in. About an hour later there was a clatter on the deck that sounded like maybe Chester (the other cat) or Samantha had become quite aggressive with the food bowl. A quick look out the window and there was just enough light streaming out on the dark deck to see - you guessed it - an opossum.

Honey was fascinated. First she stood stockstill with one front paw in the air doing her imitation of a pointer (she does this sometimes - seems very ladylike.) Then, she paced the sliding glass door trying to get out. When she realized that wasn't going to happen, she settled down on the floor looking out and starting making strange little noises. I'm not sure if she was trash-talking the possum or was trading some animal small talk ("So whose cat are you, anyway, and are you concerned with your loss of tail fur?") Whatever it was, she was content to lie there watching it and she lay there long after the possum had gone - obviously hopeful it would come back and grab something for the road.

The next night, Honey was lying on her bed when, all of a sudden, she jumped up and headed for the sliding glass door again and - sure enough. The possum was back in all its white-faced, mottled-furred glory. I cracked the door open quickly (to Honey's excitement -- with some encouragement to open it wider) and threw out some cat kibble. The possum backed off for a little bit and then slowly, it started to sniff out the food and then started nibbling it up, carefully inspected the deck for every last bit.

I got on the computer later that night to find out if I was doing something really stupid - starting an expectation with an animal (and possible pest) I'd have a hard time getting rid of later. Well, I found out opossums are great animals! They are very clean - groom themselves like cats do, they are not rabies carriers since their blood temperature is too low, they are considered nature's sanitation engineers and a friend to gardeners because they clean up bugs (including cockroaches), mice, rats, snails, slugs, rotten fruit and any animal carrion, and they are North America's only marsupial (and not related to rats no matter what their tails look like), carrying their young in a pouch until the baby opossums are old enough to climb out and ride on their back.

So, the next night I put out chopped almonds, some old apple slices, water and a little more catfood. Honey, once again, watched the possum food chewing and waddling about with enthusiasm wouldn't leave until long after the last encore.

It's about an hour later tonight and no possum yet. Both Honey and I have checked a few times. I hope it comes. I'm thinking I can start setting up the laptop near the view of the deck, writing emails, reading blogs and watching Honey's show at the same time.


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Anonymous jan said...

I love the way animals let us see the world in new and quite fascinating ways.

We had a possum in our yard last year. I wish I had checked on the Internet as you did, because I considered it dangerous and called animal control. But then if I hadn't, it would probably still be around and I would still be feeding it.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Carina said...

Good for you!! Too many people get all "ewwww" about possums, but I'm with you. I think they are cute in an ugly sort of way. They don't even carry rabies.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Nugget said...

Hi Honey, We often see possums in our yard too. My brother Stewy corned one in a tree and Mum could not pull him away.. he went nuts!

10:14 PM  

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