The following story was written by Ed White in e-mails to relatives about events in our home occurring over 2-3 days in late March 2016. Solvi is 8 1/2 years old, and we live in the northeastern end of the southern US.
Tonight one of our cats brought in a new critter, proudly dropping it at my feet and looking up to me for approval. I petted and praised him, as I usually do. Humans domesticated and bred cats just for this favor they do for us, eliminating vermin, and I don’t want to confuse them just for being true to themselves.
The critter was in a shadowy place I couldn’t see well, and at first I thought it was a mouse. Looking closer it was plainly not a mouse. It was obviously a youngster, but so much more robust, even larger than a full-grown mouse, with a sort of ropey tail. I concluded with dread that it must be a baby rat – dreading that that meant there must be a whole family of them nearby. We caught a young rat in our house last year, and I had hoped that that was the end of it.
I picked it up with a paper towel and tossed it far back out into the darkness of the back yard.
About 10 minutes later, not only did the same cat (Sootsprite) bring the same critter back into the house, he also rounded up one of its larger siblings and brought it in.
This time, however, I got a much better look, and realized they weren’t rats at all. They were baby squirrels. I’ve actually never seen a baby squirrel before. But two things made it obvious: the mostly-still-hairless tails were flat on the bottom side, and the jaws were much butcher than a rat’s. Once I saw the squirrel in them, of course, everything else about them started looking like a squirrel, too: their fur, the way they held their front paws, etc.
Solvi was captivated, fascinated. I guess I was, too. She takes that after me, I think. Not the kind of kid to shrink from dead things (or at least, in this case, almost dead things). She kept Ooo’ing and Ahhh’ing and crying out, “They’re so cute!!!” Though it makes me proud she’s so fearless about such things, it began to worry me just a tad. I felt obligated to point out that they were currently suffering and dying, too. That sobered her a little, but didn’t diminish her fascination.
She even named them: Peanut and Marie. She made sure to try to sex them and everything. To prevent the cats from bringing them right back in, this time, with Solvi’s help, we took them out in a little box and covered them with a overturned flowerpot, in the shed beside the mummified possum that’s still there. We might bury them tomorrow, a ceremony Solvi has gotten a lot of practice with in the past year. She did name them, after all, so I guess they’re family now.
More pics are below, if you’re interested. I didn’t plan the shot, but the one with Elmo photo-bombing was a quirky surprise. The cut hyacinth in the vase in that shot is actually from the grave of the kitten Solvi buried last fall, now that I think of it….