Friday, July 20, 2012

Animal Parenting
This picture is obviously animal fantasy.  Mother animals do care for and train their children, though humans would often consider their methods harsh.  House cats will wash and nurse their children, defend them against tomcats and other predators, and hide them when necessary.  As the kittens grow, they learn cat etiquette like how to fight with their siblings and when not to bother Mama or a bigger animal.  If the cats are feral, the mother teaches hunting skills as well.  Once those things are done, she washes her hands of them.  If they are part of the same community, they will all cuddle together for warmth, but that's about the size of it. - Then there are always a few lady cats who didn't want any deleted expletive kittens and haven't any idea where they came from.  In those cases human intervention is required.

There is one local animal, though, that seems concerned about its offspring until they reach full adulthood.  That is the raccoon, the State Animal of Tennessee, and I found out about that the hard way.

One outdoor cat remained out of all the gaggle my mother used to feed.  I didn't want to abandon her, so I had my brother grind herbal tranquilizers into her food.  I also rented a Have-A-Heart trap from the Nashville Humane Association.  (I've since learned that cats can outwit Have-A-Heart traps and even sometimes get the food without springing the trap.)  What I caught was a juvenile racoon - last year's baby, according to the wild animal expert.  To me it looked like it was mostly head and tail.  Not only didn't I get the cat I needed, I would now have to pay the racoon removal expert.  He couldn't come until the following morning.

The next morning he had the chore of tracking the rented cage and its occupant.  According to his expert testimony, during the night at least one and possibly two adult raccoons had made a determined assault on the cage.  They had bent and bitten through the heavy metal guard surrounding the carrying handle.  Then they had rolled the trap off the porch, over a low retaining wall, down a bank, and at least 40 yards along the creekside bottoms.  This was where he finally found the trap and released the occupant, presumably into its parents' custody.  I was just thankful the Humane Association didn't make me pay for the damage to the trap. - Then a few days later my dear Tortie cat walked into my arms and let me put her into a carrier.  I've written about her on this blog.

Most folks know raccoons from the Davey Crockett type hats that used to be a staple in all the tourist spots.  That long, stripey tail is almost a Tennessee symbol.  Raccoons are supposed to be good eating, and many folks in Tennessee ate them during the terrible Depression.  I don't think I could eat one in good conscience - they care too much about their families. 

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