Tenderfoot Strikes Again

February 19, 2010

I was drinking my tea and reading blog posts of a spring morning–as one does–when I heard the most terrible noises.  First thought (since I’m waiting for the UPS man):  “Oh no!  The UPS man is running wild!  He’s dropping huge packages on the porch!  He’s throwing packages at the windows!  He’s killing squirrels!  He’s throwing squirrels at the porch windows!”  Second thought:  “Birds are trying to get in the attic.  The squirrels are repelling them.  There’s a squirrel-and-bird fight in the eaves, and it’s spilling out onto the porch!”

I got downstairs just in time to hear the unmistakable sound of a terrified bird hitting a window, and to see the unmistakable drifts of grey feathers and spatters of bird poo all over the dining room.

Our cat is not much of a hunter.  More of a stalker.  More of a sit-and-watcher, really, with the exception of night crawlers.  He’s very good at catching slow things without legs, and leaving smeary dismembered trails of them all the way up from the basement to the worm-play area in the kitchen.  I had begun to think the squirrel he bagged back in October was a one off.

I was wrong.  A stunned robin lay in my sheepskin-covered rocking chair at the back of the house.  Howl was on the floor, contemplating it with wary interest.  There is a reason his nickname is Tenderfoot (also My Velvet Friend, Ooja Booja and others, but we won’t go into those): he does not get the whole “kill it and eat it” thing.  If he was going to kill it, I wished he’d done it quickly outside.  If he was just going to torment it I wished he’d done that outside, where at least another cat would polish it off as soon as it got the chance.

I ran to the basement for a towel and threw it over the bird, then looked for an easy way to get it outside without Howl following.  He always slips out the front door with us.  The windows all have screens.  The kitchen door opens onto a 3-foot drop to the ground where we demolished a rotting deck.  He never goes out that way.

So, I opened the kitchen door, went back to the robin, and scooped it up in the towel.  Hooray!  No poo on the sheepskins!  I carried it to the door.   I looked down.   Directly into the expectant, furry face of a neighbor cat.

It was a cartoonish moment.

Not only did I have to get the robin outside and keep the cat inside, I had to get the robin out and deposit it somewhere none of the many other cats in our neighborhood could reach it.  Like the porch rooof!  Upstairs, I managed to open our bedroom window and get the screen off one-handed, cradling the towel against my chest.  I put the towel out on the porch roof.  The bird just sat there.  I didn’t have high hopes for it with all the feathers it had lost, but I shut curtains so the cat couldn’t leer at it through the window, and when I came back after sweeping up the feathers and wiping up poo, I saw this.

Sometimes these things have happy endings.


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