Coffee heat rising

A Fed Coyote…

…is a dead coyote.

Born hungry…

How the hell many times to people have to be told this before it registers?

This morning the corgis and I were making the dawn stroll across Orchid between 15th and 11th. A coyote lives in the alley over there — I’ve seen her several times before. But this morning I didn’t spot her until she came trotting up the sidewalk on the other side of the street and was just a few hundred feet away.

She saw us.

We saw her.

My dogs, not being the brightest rhinestones on the cowboy vest, figured she was just another dog — how interesting! She, on the other hand, clearly thought, “Ah! Breakfast!” 😀

She kept trotting along, not changing her pace and very clearly not afraid of me. I carry a few stones in my pocket for the purpose of beaning coyotes and aggressive dogs, should it be necessary, but at this point I was too busy wrangling corgis to dig them out.

Breakfast roll…

She now crossed the street, coming straight at us. “Yum! Can I get ketchup with that, please?”

I hollered GIT!

She was unfazed.

Another attempt at GIT! showed that she was unafraid of me and not impressed by a sharp, somewhat aggressive utterance.

At this point I manage to get the dogs behind me and then yell, in full counter-surfing voice, “NO! BAAAD DOG!!!!”

Incredibly, this stopped her! Now she crosses back over to her side of the street and continues trotting westbound. Dogs and human continue east. As distance increases between both parties, she crosses back over to our side and disappears into a yard that has a lot of shrubbery.

She appeared to know exactly where she was going. Probably someone leaves food out for their pets in that area. Or for stray animals — the yard she entered is overgrown with shrubbery (lots of cover), and the owners are, shall we say, eccentric.

Please don’t leave food out for stray cats (including your own cats that you allow to run loose). Or for stray coyotes. Leaving out cat food or dog food helps to acclimate coyotes to humans, and it calls them in to our neighborhoods. Once a coyote is no longer afraid of humans, it becomes a potential hazard to your small pets — cats and smaller dogs. 

In our parts, there’s plenty of natural food for coyotes. It’s called “roof rats.” In your parts, the chow line may include gophers, sewer rats, mice, raccoons, badgers, and the like.

Coyotes predate on vermin, and that is why they are not a bad critter to have in the neighborhood. Unless you enjoy the sound of a line of rats doing the can-can across your rafters, leave the coyotes alone.

That means a) not feeding them and b) keeping your (scrumptious!) cats and your dogs indoors or on a leash at all times. If we feed the wildlife on purpose, they lose their fear of us and then become a nuisance. And speaking of nuisances, letting your cat roam loose is feeding the coyotes.

Do not feed the coyotes. Dammit!

PLEASE Keep Your Cat Indoors!

Maine_Coon_cat_by_TomitheosWhy do people insist on letting their cats roam loose?

Okay, I know the answer, which I’ll tell you in a minute.

But first let me inveigh against this habit. Obviously, if you let your cat roam around the neighborhood, you don’t care about wildlife and you don’t care about your neighbors. But presumably you like your cat.

Letting your pet out to roam as an “outside cat” is a form of animal abuse. It puts the cat at risk of injury, disease, and violent, painful death. In short, it’s criminal.

Outdoor cats run a good chance of being run over by cars, attacked and killed by dogs and coyotes, infected with feline leukemia and a variety of unpleasant parasites, infected with rabies (cats are now the main carriers of rabies to humans in this country), attacked and injured by other cats, carried off by hawks or barn owls, bitten by raccoons, accidentally poisoned by lapping up leaked antifreeze or rat poison, and deliberately poisoned, trapped, or shot by angry neighbors.

If you loved your cat, why would you put it at that kind of risk?

The answer, of course, is that you would not. Therefore, it’s only reasonable to assume you hate your cat (and your neighbors, and the wildlife for a mile in all directions), and you are deliberately abusing the cat.

Oh, no, you protest. You love your cat! It just won’t stay inside! It rips out the window screens and claws the paint off the doors trying to escape. To that, say I, bullshit. Who’s the human here?

Let me tell you the real reason cat owners let their cats roam around outdoors: They don’t want to clean up after the beloved kitty any more than you or I want to clean up after it. They let their cats outside so that the animals will deposit their urine and feces somewhere else. Admit it: if you do this, it’s because you get about half as much mess to have to clean out of the cat box (and your carpets, and the comforter on your bed, and the cushions on your sofa) as you do when you keep the animal indoors.

Before you fly into a Cat Lover Frenzy, hear me out. I have had a lot of cats in my life, beginning in infancy. Where we lived in Arabia, no dogs were allowed. Dogs would get into it with the jackals that routinely came into camp at night, and the jackals carried rabies. At that time, rabies vaccination for dogs was uncommon; in Arabia it was unavailable. So dogs were banned in camp.

But cats were not. Everyone had cats. At one point, a couple picked up a breeding pair of Siamese cats while they were on short leave in Paris. Before long, the place was overrun with Siamese cats.

Let me think…we had Buttons (an unneutered male that whose chronic war wounds were always in one of three states: open and raw, scabbed, or scarred); Whitey, a (surprise!) white female cat, which had kittens; her funny little white kitten that had a gray spot on its head, right between his ears, exactly in the shape of a pair of horns; Sheba, a seal-point Siamese; a gorgeous long-haired blue-point Siamese; one of his offpsring, a mentally retarded Siamese cat that we named Caslan,  said to be the Arabic word for “stupid.” In San Francisco, another Siamese cat (and its fleas). In Arizona, my mother’s Siamese cat. Then after I married, I ended up with my mother’s Burmese cat and its six kittens, whose chronic diarrhea was more than she could deal with. Then a lilac-point Siamese and a chocolate-point Siamese and two of the lilac-point’s kittens, all four at once. Then the famous Boozer and not long afterward two of her kittens. That would be…what? Yes.

Twenty-two cats, not counting the ones my mother had when I was too little to remember them.

The cats we had in Arabia were allowed to roam the camp. In the 1950s, that was just what people did. There was little traffic, and it was thought that cats would run from jackals, jumping up on cars or climbing trees to get out of reach. But when we came back to the states and bootlegged a cat into our apartment, my mother grasped the idea that cats are better off kept indoors.

And so for years, she and I both had indoor cats.

The last Siamese Tribe of Four, however, gave the lie to the idea that cats will always use a cat box.

Not necessarily so.

And when a cat learns that it can go outside the box, it will go outside the box. Nothing you can do will change the animal’s mind. And no, these cats did not have urinary tract infections and they did not have bladder stones and yes I did keep their damn cat boxes meticulously clean.

They peed and shat all over the house. Their favorite shithouse was the dining-room. They ruined about 2500 square feet of incredibly expensive, ultra-luxurious carpet, the like of which I had never seen before and have never seen since.

The people who sold us the house had fixed it up, planning to live in it permanently, just before the neighborhood’s property values exploded in a frenzy of gentrification. We got the house because its value had shot up so high they simply could not resist collecting. But because they’d figured to be there for a long time, they had installed top-of-the-line everything, including those amazing carpets.

The cats destroyed them.

Before my son was born, I found a new home for all four cats (believe it or not, a doting human took them all in, the poor wretch), had all the stinky carpeting torn out, and replaced it with outrageously expensive wool Karastan that couldn’t even hold a candle to the magnificent carpet the cats had ruined.


The next cats were outside cats. That would be Boozer and her two kittens.

Why? Because I never wanted to clean up a mess like that again!

For that matter, I hoped never to have to clean and disinfect another cat box again. Although I did. Two of them. About every other day.

Boozer and Blue, her gorgeous male kitten, lived to a ripe old age. But Kit-Tan was poisoned by antifreeze, quite possibly left out by a neighbor who expressed his dislike of these loose beasts, who used the raised garden in his front entryway as their toilet. She suffered hideously. My husband — by then my ex-husband — could not bring himself to put her down. So she suffered hideously for weeks and then for months, becoming incontinent (among other things) and destroying yet another houseful of carpeting.

So I can say from experience that turning a cat out to roam the neighborhood is an act of unadulterated selfishness. No matter how much lip service you give to the joys of the cat’s picturesquely predatory nature, the truth is you do it because you don’t want to deal with a cat’s filth.

And it’s a blatant act of cruelty.

Some people are so besotted with their cats, though, that they simply do not and probably can not register the amount of devastation the animals inflict, the filth and disease they spread, the distress they cause to neighbors, and — most amazingly — the degree of risk a roaming cat faces.

My dear neighbor, lovingly known by her father as “Other Daughter,” is something of a cat lady. She’s the reason my yard’s walls are capped with carpet tack strips — which works pretty well, BTW, to keep the cats out of the yard. She walks around the ’hood a lot, and she sees things. She was horribly distressed when she found a cat run over in the alley. She was heartbroken when she found a cat in front of her house evidently killed by a coyote — she packed it sweetly in a little box and left it out for the dead animal patrol to pick up.

And yet…and yet… It does not register with her that her cats could get run over, her cats could get eaten by a coyote, her cats are a damn nuisance to the neighbors.

The only reasonable conclusion is that she doesn’t want it to register.

Repelling Cats: The Practical Benefits

So, I’ve made a spectacle of myself by securing tack strips atop the block walls by way of repelling Other Daughter’s obnoxious cat.  Like the Ant Wars, the Cat War has gone on for some time, and as we know,

He who does battle with a cat loses.

Nice kitty kitty kitty! Click on the image for the alarming details...
Nice kitty kitty kitty! Click on the image for the alarming details…

However… Ah, howEVER… It does appear that for the first time since the last sabre-toothed tiger succumbed, the hominid is winning.

That damn cat has not been seen since I secured the last few feet along the eastside wall and figured out that I could use heavy-duty exterior double-sided mounting tape to attach tack strip lengths to the wall’s column caps, which offer no purchase for zip-ties.

She had pretty much stopped coming into the yard after I secured the entire west wall, the back wall, and the front wall — many hundreds of feet, since the house occupies a quarter-acre lot. Some of the houses in this tract have tiny yards, basically just a walkway in the backyard. But the corner houses were built on surprisingly large lots…and this is one of ’em.

How she found out about Duck, I do not know, but evidently the presence of a large, delicious meal nesting right on the ground was more than the damn cat could bear. Still, the other day’s foray was the first I’d seen of her inside the yard for several months.

A season’s absence of the damned cat has wrought some startling changes.

You need a gecko:

The most visible is the resurgence of birds and geckos, the voraciously insectivorous little lizards native to the Sonoran desert. The yard is alive with birds, from noisy, crowing (insectivorous!) grackles to the flying jewels that are (insectivorous!) hummingbirds, with every kind of tweety-bird and dove in between.

But the loveliest part is that these critters, the birds and the geckos that now find safety in the fortified backyard, EAT BUGS!

More to the point, they eat mosquitoes and they eat flies. This spring, when normally the house and yard would be overrun with the things, I’ve hardly seen any.

A year ago, I swatted over a dozen mosquitoes in the house one evening. They like to come to rest on the white ceilings, where they doze between meals. So at some times of day it’s easy to kill them. But this year, I’ve hardly had to whack at any of them. Nor have I been bit from head to toe…

And the flies? This morning I killed all of two (count’em, 2) with the electric fly swatter. That is astonishing. In the past, a half a dozen would zip in during the time it would take to let the dogs out and back in and to attend to the pool. One year we had some kind of fly bloom…I’ve never seen so many flies, and yes I do clean up after the dogs twice a day and no, none of the nearby neighbors still has a dog.

But Other Daughter has a damn cat.

Cats kill not just birds, as we all know, but also small reptiles and mammals. They can drive certain wildlife populations extinct in a given area. They’re particularly devastating to geckos.

Geckos eat massive numbers of insects. They eat mosquitoes. They eat flies. They eat crickets. They eat roaches. They eat grasshoppers. They eat worms. They eat any number of annoying, garden-chomping, disease-carrying, and unaesthetic bugs. I have not been kept awake half the night by a cricket in weeks and weeks. Happy day!

Birds eat most of those things, and many varieties eat ants.

We’ve had just one incursion from the Ant Queen’s Hordes this year. It was from a colony that set up under the deck, where the “organic” bug guy exterminated a hive of Africanized bees. Guess the guy was right that the stuff he used was relatively less harmful than standard products. Some DE sprinkled across the thresholds and around the entry to the ant nest moved the ants away from the house. But since the cat has been repelled, I haven’t seen a single out-of-control ant colony in the yard.

Getting rid of the cat has gotten rid of the insect pests.


Homotherium (scimitar-toothed cat): Cropbot at Wikipedia. CC BY 3.0
Gecko: shamelessly ripped off the Web.