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Friday Un-Cat Blogging — Why Now?
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Friday Un-Cat Blogging

An Uninvited Guest

Friday Cat Blogging

Huh … hello?

[Editor: I was wondering if Property was just playing mind games staring at the back door, but I looked out and found this un-cat chowing down on the cat food. It is either a juvenile or small female.

Friday Ark


1 fallenmonk { 10.15.10 at 8:51 am }

It’s an opossum David. Commonly called just a ‘possum’ in the South. It’s also the source of the term “playing possum” because of the animal’s habit of just freezing and playing dead when confronted with danger.

2 fallenmonk { 10.15.10 at 8:54 am }

Yeah, Bryan I get them here eating the dropped birdseed under the feeders. Sometimes a whole family of them. I had one drop dead under my deck a couple of years ago…what a stink. Unfortunately, I was on my way to the airport when discovered and it was left to Madam to crawl under and retrieve the smelly thing. They can be quite mean when cornered and dangerous to small dogs and cats and even small children.

3 Steve Bates { 10.15.10 at 9:13 am }

I saw a cartoon about 35 years ago that showed such a creature with a thought balloon above its head: “Cogito, ergo possum,” which a friend translated as “I think, therefore I can.”

They can certainly chow down on catfood in a hurry. And once long ago I confronted one who had entered my unattended front door and succeeded in opening the metal box in which we stored dry catfood. Clever critters!

4 ellroon { 10.15.10 at 10:32 am }

While dog-sitting once, I heard the dog go oddly quiet during the ‘last call’ run late at night. Calling wouldn’t bring her so I went out to see what was up. The dog was delightedly sniffing a very small dead possum in the yard. So dog inside, son with flashlight outside and I got the shovel.

On closer inspection the possum was alive, still breathing. But what was hilarious was that the face was frozen with the tongue hanging out to the side and the eyes shut tightly. So I shoveled up the critter and flung it into a neighbor’s (dogless) yard.

I’m sure the flight will be a tale the possum tells his grandchildren…..

5 Badtux { 10.15.10 at 8:46 pm }

At least it’s not a skunk…. they *love* catfood. Don’t ask me how I know that one ;).

– Badtux the Skunky Cat owned Penguin
(Dilvish, 1985-2000, R.I.P.)

6 Steve Bates { 10.15.10 at 9:28 pm }

Correction (my memory gets worse as I age): it was a raccoon that managed to open the metal catfood box. Possums ate their share, too, when it was on the ground in the open so they could get to it. Ah, those were the days, when I lived across the street from Houston’s second largest city park. We had several sorts of critters, tall pines, joggers, occasional murderers…

7 Bryan { 10.15.10 at 10:28 pm }

Actually, Fallenmonk, there has been a kit possum hanging around my Mother’s house and I have been trying to get a picture of it, but, I assume, momma eats at my back door. The kit has hissy fits, literally, when I show up, while momma just waddles off.

Possums do have opposable thumbs on all their feet and could open things, but ‘coons are better known for the behavior, Steve. I’m not aware of anything a possum won’t eat. [Are you saying a certain individual was playing “possum” with his campaign slogan? 😉 ]

They aren’t as pungent as skunks, Elroon, but possums do have musk glands. I doubt the possum remembers anything between the fright that set off the catatonic state and waking up from minutes to hours later.

Your cats do seem to have an affinity for wildlife, Badtux. Skunks and water moccasins are not the normal playmates of felines.

8 Badtux { 10.15.10 at 11:42 pm }

That was Dilvish, who fancied himself a mighty hunter (though he did *not* mess with skunks again, heh!). He was hellacious on voles and mice too, and he had the neighbors’ dogs terrified, even the big ones. But he met his match when he ran up against an armadillo — he stalked the thing, then sat down on his haunch and glared at it because he couldn’t figure out WTF to do with it if he managed to catch it, given its armor.

One day my mother took him to the vet to get his shots and stuff, and he had to stay overnight to get his teeth cleaned. The vet says she was walking by his cage and he just keeled right over, dead as a doornail. She figures he had the kitty equivalent of a massive stroke, maybe from his high-fat diet of voles, mice, and water moccasins ;). Way to go, I guess — just stroke out dead, no suffering or anything.

9 Kryten42 { 10.16.10 at 12:18 am }

Actually, Opossums literally faint from shock when sufficiently stressed. 😉

A Moment of Science – Playing Possum

The possum is a rather unglamorous creature. It has big, black eyes, a pale pointy face, and a hairless tail, like a rat’s. Possums aren’t finicky about their food, either: they eat fruits, vegetables, insects, reptiles, and even roadkill.

They do have a couple of unique habits, though: as North America’s only marsupial, they can carry their young in a pouch, like a kangaroo, and they can play dead.

“Playing Dead”
Possums are famous for “playing dead” when threatened, but this isn’t quite accurate. They are not “playing” dead at all: the possum goes into shock when particularly stressed.

While not dead, the possum can be found lying on its side with its legs extended and is, in fact, limp and unconscious during this time, like a person who has fainted.

While playing dead discourages predators from chasing the possum, it also makes them vulnerable. When drivers see the limp possum in the road, they don’t bother to swerve, since they assume it’s already dead.

There are also accounts of people shooting the comatose possum in order to “put it out of its misery.” There is such a thing as overplaying a part.

We have many Possums here, they are distantly related to Kangaroos & Wallabies. I had a cute and curious young fellow living in a tree in my yard many years ago. We became friends (I guess). He used to come sit on a low branch and *twitter* away at me when I’d go outside (I suspect telling me off about the quality & frequency of food provided, no doubt!) 😆

It’s not actually a great idea to encourage them. they can literally destroy a house from the inside (they nest in the roof & walls, and often die and rot there, and they pee a lot, usually down the walls!) Not a nice way to loose a house. 😉

10 Kryten42 { 10.16.10 at 12:22 am }

Oh! And *our* Possums are far cuter than yours! 😛 😆 (You can see one in that link above). 😉

11 Bryan { 10.16.10 at 12:25 am }

Fifteen is a long life for a cat. Cats need much more fat than dogs, and small rodents are the most complete diet they can have. It provides everything that you can spend a lot of money on to duplicate, but they have to be “free range” rodents. The domesticated varieties of rodents are missing important nutrients in their diet.

[We have a local feline vet who did post doc work on nutrition and she has been in the local media discussing it, especially after the Chinese added the “counter-tops” to the pet food.]

If they would stay off of highways, armadillos would almost all die of old age. I “thumped” one on I-10 and it doesn’t do good things to your car.

As for exits, that sounds like a good way to check out.

12 Bryan { 10.16.10 at 12:34 am }

Yes, it’s cuter, Kryten, a fluffy tail helps a lot in that department, but you have all kinds of marsupials and the possum is the only one we have.

Another difference is the “tail hanging”. Ours can do it as kits, but adult possums are too heavy to hang by their tails, other than briefly. They generally use it as a brace or for balance.

13 jams o donnell { 10.16.10 at 8:24 am }

Ah now that’s not something we would see in our garden – just hedgehogs, squirrels and foxes.. the not wife’s sister gets badgers too.

14 Bryan { 10.16.10 at 4:45 pm }

I like hedgehogs, but then I lived in Germany for a while and they are regarded much as rabbits are viewed in the US, as friendly woodland creatures. Foxes are useful for taking out squirrels, but they can threaten cats, and I don’t mess around with badgers.

15 cookie jill { 10.17.10 at 11:15 am }

My father did some trapping to help put himself through college in Michigan. He always felt bad about killing animals…except for ‘possums. He hated them.
I, personally, find them quite cute in a weird sort of waddling alien looking sort of way.

16 Bryan { 10.17.10 at 5:17 pm }

The little ones are cute, Jill, but a full-sized one is nasty and destructive. At least they are rarely rabid because of natural resistance in most of them, but they have some formidable teeth that can really do a job on you.

17 oldwhitelady { 10.18.10 at 9:13 pm }

Oh, my. That is a great picture. I bet Property was quite perturbed by the creature eating the cat food! How dare it! That reminds me of an incident my sister had. Her cat food kept disappearing, and she finally found a raccoon in her kitchen. It had come through the kitty door.

18 Bryan { 10.18.10 at 9:24 pm }

That’s food for the ferals, Property has never even smelled it. She was focusing on the possum.

Oh, yes, raccoons are an occasional problem, but this possum seems to have taken up residency in the area.