October 19, 2012

Yikes! There's A Chipmunk in the House! Or, Smart Cat?

The other day I was in the pantry filling the water pitcher from our Berkey filter. The kitchen door was open to the back porch / summer kitchen / laundry room, because the weather was warm and pleasant. As I stood there waiting for the pitcher to fill, I heard the kitty door.

"Riley, is that you?" I said. (Not that it would be anyone else.)

Next I heard crashing and banging. That alarmed me but the pitcher wasn't full yet so I couldn't go see what it was. I heard it again. Suddenly a chipmunk came high tailing it around the wood cookstove toward the pantry, and me. Riley was right on its tail.

I screamed, the chipmunk freaked, but Riley never missed a beat. After a flurried turn or two around the kitchen, the chipmunk made a dive for the bathroom with Riley right behind. I quickly closed the door, relieved that I wouldn't have to chase and catch a chipmunk in the house.

I had to leave the kitchen after that, because I couldn't listen to the life and death game being played in the bathroom. You may or may not agree, but Dan and I have a strict policy of non-interference when it comes to cats and their business. This is Riley's job after all, and on a farm or working homestead, rodents will overpopulate and overrun. Without a cat they'll do quite a bit of damage and as well as attract snakes, because snakes love to eat small rodents too. Some folks may prefer snakes to cats, but I can't imagine a snake doing double duty as a lap warmer.

But back to the situation at hand. Now, I'm not one to assign human thinking to animals. Animals can reason in their own species fashion, and some can be pretty smart about it. I think Riley's that way, I think Riley is a smart cat. Just a day or two prior, I saw him with a chipmunk he'd caught in the driveway. He was playing "cat and mouse," where he pretends his attention is elsewhere, until his "mouse" makes a run for it. (It seems a cruel game, I know, but that's what cats do.) Unfortunately that particular munk made a run for it and ran right up a tree. Call me crazy, but I think this time he brought his munk into the house so it couldn't get away!

This story does have a happy ending. Once Riley finally asked to come out of the bathroom, I assumed the chipmunk was dead. It certainly looked dead. When Dan went to pick it up however, it was very much alive! A bit stunned, but alive. He set it by one of our numerous chipmunk holes and it disappeared down the hole in a wink.

Now when Riley rings the kitty door bell to come into the house, we take a peek out the kitchen door window. We tell him he's only allowed to come in if he's alone. New rule, though it remains to be seen whether or not he'll honor it.

© October 2012 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com/


Sue said...

Two summers ago all the resident cats had a catch & release program going, bringing live prey (mostly mice) into the house. I teased that they were improving the gene pool of the residents. They thinned the herd a bit this year, but I'm having to set traps all the time now, and the smarter mice often take bait without setting off the traps (I won't use poison, since they do still hunt in the house). Better than chipmunks, though!

Tami said...

Loved the story, Leigh. I laughed out loud when you said you screamed.

(We're such girls aren't we?)

SM said KiKi came into the house the other night..."Murmph" He went, mouth full of bird. KiKi dropped it at SM's feet, he chased the dogs away, picked it up (no injury) and took it outside.

"How is this blind cat catching birds?" He wants to know.

Farmer Barb said...

I witnessed a farm cat at the Nature Center "playing" with a chippie to nearly the same end. I guess they are more resilient than mice. The cat door in our CA house had an unexpected intruder trained to come in and eat: a raccoon! When we moved in and barricaded the cat door because we had no cat, he gave us the fit of angry coon speak to end them all. It would have taken quite a big cat to take HIM out of the house stunned.

Izzy said...

We've thought about getting a cat or two for The Compound, howeve I'm concerned about how they will interact with my chickens. Our dog Miss Izzy also hates cats. I think it would be something we could get her over, but who knows. Any suggestions from one cat owner to one that's not?

Leigh said...

Sue, mice! Oh no! Actually both our female cats (no longer with us) tried to do the exact same thing. We have mice too, they usually move into the attic as the weather gets cold. But Riley can't get to them there so Dan has to set traps.

Tami, obviously KiKi is another member of the Smart Cat Club!

Barb, that's too funny, though probably not at the time! I saw a home video once where the folks set up a camera to try and figure out what was entering the house at night through the pet door. Sure enough it was a raccoon.

Izzy, I don't know how one can live on a farm or homestead without at least one cat! Grown chickens are about the size of cats and there has never been a problem there. Chicks, I like to protect, but find that once the cat knows chicks are an accepted part of the human landscape, they're off limits. A cat hating dog on the other hand, is a problem. I honestly don't know if that's something that can be trained out of a dog or not. Let's just say I personally wouldn't want to sacrifice any cats to find out. Perhaps someone else reading this will have some helpful input.

Theresa said...

Bravo, Good job Riley! Nothing better than a farm cat or two. My tack room has been rodent free for a number of years. This is the time the little buggers are all looking for food or shelter and the kill rate is up. There seems to be a new tail left for me every morning in the barn. Sometimes I'm sad to say I get feathers instead of fur, but our two working cats Buzz and Juno do a fine job.

Benita said...

A friend of mine's cat brought in a bird that way and they like to have never caught it.

I agree that cats have duties and rodent control is the main one. We don't feed any of our barn cats, just put out fresh water. They aren't starving any by the look of them, either.

DebbieB said...

We have no rodents, but we have cockroaches and large spiders and lizards. They all manage to find their way indoors, and I'm glad we have an expert 'mouser' (though perhaps she's more a 'lizarder' or a 'spiderer' or a 'cockroacher'!) I feel a little bad about the lizards - after all, they're insect-eaters and helpful - but once they enter the house, they're fair game, and I'm glad our Gypsy-girl takes care of all intruders. We do take them all away from her once she's disabled/killed them, though, because she gets sick if she eats them. We always give her a kitty-treat to reward her bravery and helpfulness - and to ensure her continued service!

Sherri B. said...

Oh my, those kitty doors can prove to be very interesting! We had a racoon come in and Jack the dog went after him from the inside and when he tried to go back out...Maggie the dog was on the outside which proved....very interesting, indeed. So nice that all turned out well with your intruder.

Have a lovely weekend. xo

Anonymous said...

Good Riley! We had a baby chipmunk in our apartment a couple years ago, and my cat just sat and watched the hole where it came out, wouldn't catch it. I finally set a have-a-heart trap, caught the little bugger, and took it outside.

Renee Nefe said...

I'm pretty sure that once your dog "hates" cats that's it...but I haven't tested that theory (and cats are thankful for that!)

Lilly is a terrible hunter. We've tried to train her to catch intruders (bugs) but she would rather play with them than kill or eat them. She is pretty good at chasing squirrels & cats though. The rabbits seem pretty smart and don't try to come back after seeing Lilly through the door. Since I like rabbits I won't let Lilly try to chase them, although there have been a few that she has chased.
No idea what she would do if she caught any though.

Anonymous said...

Riley, good job buddy! Mice, chippies, etc are a royal pain in the keester. Unfortunately we can't have a cat inside or out here on our homestead. My loveable Sheepdog Sam is a cat hunter of the finest caliber. I use the old snap traps baited with cookies and peanut butter along with the modern electric shock traps. Yesterday Sam found a dead mouse hidden behind a basket of wood on our fireplace hearth, he didn't touch it but did let me know of the problem. Sheepdogs are not known as mice killers, but I do wonder how the mouse came to his demise?

Carolyn said...

I'll occasionally forget to check the maws of the cats when they ask to come in from outdoors. And that's usually the time when there is a bird/lizard/chipmunk/mouse in their jaws. Although I do have to admit, it is quite entertaining to see three cats and a dog running around the kitchen like crazy animals trying to catch a mouse.

Leigh said...

Theresa, so they leave you trophies! I do agree about the birds, and should have mentioned that we will try to rescue those from Riley. Usually we're successful with that.

Benita, it would be terrible to try to catch a bird in the house! We could actually probably use 2 cats, but Riley wouldn't agree to that I don't think,

Debbie, Dan's first cat was feral and pretty much subsisted on a diet of lizards. Trouble was, they gave him gas! We used to call him "Skunk Muffin."

Sherri, oh my! Poor raccoon, but they can be pretty vicious, can't they? Hopefully neither Jack nor Maggie was injured.

Stephanie, oh how funny. I guess your cat enjoyed it for it's entertainment value. :)

Renee, since you have rabbits (no, I believe you don't have them anymore, is that correct?), I can understand the no rabbit rule. Maybe Lilly doesn't catch anything because she is afraid she'd have to do something with it. :o Smart dog. :)

Martha, they can definitely be a royal pain. Interesting about your Sam!

Carolyn, that's what happens, they sneak them in! We almost put a kitty door from the porch into the kitchen, but now I'm glad we didn't.

Susan said...

I follow the "do not interfere" policy as well. Without the assistance of the mousers, I would be overrun. I don't however, let mine out as they wouldn't last an hour; too many cat predators. My guys do an excellent job, although they can be a little over-exuberant.

Unknown said...

Are you ever worried about your cat getting rabies or being injured by a squirrel?

Michelle said...

OMGoodness! That story was too funny! I KWYM, though. My cats beg to bring their prey inside as well. It's always been a strict, "NO!" around here. The blood stains on both my front and back porches prove their prowess, though. :-)

Leigh said...

Susan, it's unfortunate to have to worry about your cats being preyed on. Still, sounds like you have good hunting in the house. :o

Nancy, if we had local reports of rabies in squirrels, I would be concerned. My vet is good at letting us know things like that. Riley is UTD on vaccinations, which I wouldn't be without for an outdoor cat.

Michelle, at least yours ask! I wonder why so many cats want to bring their catches in the house. Riley did bring in another chipmunk the other day, but only onto the back porch, where I was stirring jelly for canning. I opened the back door and soon both munk and cat were out!

Jan said...

Your story is so funny. We have two Cairn terriers - Archie and Boswell - and they take their job of patrolling for squirrels very seriously. Yesterday a squirrel got into the pool cage and the race was on. Both dogs raised a ruckus, disoriented the poor squirrel who actually fell into the pool. (I didn't know that squirrels were such darn good swimmers!) He swam to the steps, climbed out and Boswell pounced. And missed. We had to dredge Bos out of the pool and Archie was hiding behind the grill. The squirrel was laughing from the huge oak tree beside the house. Well, they all got exercise at least! -- Jan

Thistle Cove Farm said...

I have the same rule with my cats and dogs...they have jobs to do to earn their keep and I don't get in the middle of their jobs...unless a dog or cat is getting hurt and then I'll step in.

Leigh said...

Jan, thanks. Your story is hilarious! Would have loved to have seen that. :)

Sandra, I agree. Riley did have a rat bite him once. Hung on to the fur on his hind leg. It didn't draw blood but Riley hopped all over the place.

chris said...

my brothers cat once brought a baby skunk in the pet door. that was nasty! they closed it up after that little incident. chippies aren't so bad. although i'd be screaming too.