12 December 2005

Cat and Mole

My little black cat Snork is nearly fourteen years old, and she would almost rather be petted than be fed! Snork is convinced that humans were created primarily to fuss over cats – she loves people and every stranger is a potential new admirer!

At our old house, she would follow us whenever we went hiking in the woods. Inevitably, as the underbrush got heavier and the greenery got taller, she would fall farther and farther behind, until she would stop altogether and meow piteously for us to rescue her. Just as inevitably, one of us would go back, pick her up, and carry her until we were again within sight of the house.

Snork is now my shop cat. Even on the coldest days, as soon as I open the shop door, she leaves her heated cat bed and comes straight over to me, demanding to be picked up and rubbed. Then, while I am turning, she sits quietly just out of the way, occasionally pouncing on a stray shaving that drops enticingly near.

Snork, 2004

The property that I am renting has about an acre of flat lawn around the house and shop and, in defiance of the landlord's traps, the resident mole population continues their heroic efforts to terraform it into a rodent-scale motocross venue.

A few weeks ago I transferred another of my outdoor stacks of drying wood into the shop. All that remained was the base platform, a three-foot by eight-foot panel of plywood laid on short pieces of two-by-fours. It was a full inch thick, wet with rain and almost too heavy for me to lift. I figured that if I could get it up on one edge, I could maneuver it onto the wheelbarrow and get it in the shop without having to drag it.

As I stood at the short end and lifted one side, I startled a mole that had taken shelter underneath. I managed to get the long edge balanced up on the two-by-fours and was catching my breath for the next part, when I realized that the mole was now "hiding" under the edge of the board. That is, its head was hidden, but its entire fat furry gray body and tail were in plain view!

Snork was daydreaming on the stoop about twenty feet away, and when I called her, she came trotting over to be petted. Balancing the board with my right hand, I reached down with my left, scratched her head briefly, then reached under her belly and lofted her gently towards the mole. She landed a foot short. The mole didn't twitch. Oblivious to her intended prey, Snork came right back for another scratch.

I tossed her closer the second time. The mole, sensing trouble, backed deeper into its "hole", only to look up and realize it was in danger of becoming dinner! The motion caught Snork's attention, and I'm not sure who was more startled.

The mole recovered first and ran towards me, with Snork right behind, batting at it. She missed, the mole doubled back past her, then ran under the middle of the board and headed for the next tarp-covered stack of wood.

I will give Snork full credit for brains - she immediately ran around the far end of the board, heading for where the mole ought to be. But the mole had a head-start and was already scrambling up the green slope of the tarp. It scrabbled for footing, then slid into a fold that dumped it off onto the gravel at the end of the stack. Before Snork could get to it, the mole had bolted under the tarp into the maze of wood where she couldn't follow.

True to form, Snork sat for a moment debating her next move, then came back over to get her head scratched again.


UPDATE: Dec 18 - If you enjoyed this story, check out the other cat bloggings at the Carnival of the Cats #91, hosted this week by "Music and Cats".

And if you enjoy wood, woodturning, and occasional musings on nature, please take a few minutes to read some of my other posts! Thanks!