We’ve had a cat door into our garage, going back to the time when Jan and I both worked. Our cat (Itty) was happier outside and she could come and go as she pleased. We never had a problem except once when another cat followed her into the garage.

After I retired, we stopped leaving her out all day and just let her out when she wanted. I never removed the old cat door, figuring she might go into the garage occasionally and catch any mice that got inside.

A few weeks ago I noticed that the cat door was broken. It’s quite old and I just thought the sun and weather had finally taken their toll on the plastic. We’d been having windy weather and I thought the door flopping in the wind was the reason for it breaking. I covered over the broken door with a piece of plastic, saying I’d replace it later.

The next day the plastic was ripped up and the door damaged more. Clearly some critter had been using it to get in and out of the garage. I removed the old door entirely and covered the opening with a couple of scraps of 1″x10″ lumber as a temporary fix. Then, just in case the critter was still in the garage I set out our Have-A-Heart trap baited with cat food.

The next morning inside the garage looked like a war zone. The trap had been tipped on its side and all the bait was gone. The Styrofoam insulation around the blocked opening had been ripped to shreds but the wood was still in place. What ever the critter was, it was large, strong, smart and still inside. I reset the trap, this time placing concrete blocks on top of it and along the side to prevent it from being moved easily.

The next morning I found we had caught a large, angry and very frustrated raccoon. Not wanting to kill it, we decided to go to a public access area by the river about 8 miles away to release it.

That was an adventure in itself. The one problem is our trap is somewhat hard to open. You are momentarily exposed to whatever is in the trap while you are releasing the catch. Fortunately the raccoon was terrified and stayed at the far end, away from where I was unlatching the trap. Once open, the critter took a couple seconds to realize it was free, then ran off.

I hope 8 miles is far enough that it won’t be back.

To make matters even more difficult, momma raccoon had (unbeknownst to us) left behind four youngsters which I discovered just a while ago. I managed to get them out of the garage but I have no idea how they will manage without the mother.
Left behind in the garage is a huge mess. They had shredded up a number of old cardboard boxes, sheets of Styrofoam and old rags. All tucked behind the place where I store lumber, plywood and paneling. It will take several days to clean up the mess and get rid of the smell.

Just some of the fun of living in the country….

13 comments on “Critters

  1. What an adventure! So glad you had the courage of entering the garage and taking care of the problem because I certainly did not…just the thought of having a critter in the garage that I did not know made me feel like something would “attack”. Remember… we have been saying that we need to clean out the garage so this gives us a definite reason. You handled the whole situation so well; I’m proud of you and thank you for being so understanding.

  2. That’s really a cute story Tom 🙂 Those things I swear are the most ingenious creatures out there. Strong, short, fast when they want to be and in spite of their black masks have no silver bullets.

  3. The story had me going. I even telling my son and had him interested. Ending good except, are the young ones OK?

  4. Alice, I don’t know exactly how the young ones are doing. I haven’t seen them since I put them out in the “wild” part of our property. I just couldn’t leave them inside the garage. They were cute but also very destructive. I should have taken pictures but I was too upset about the whole business.

  5. I believe you were. Jan sounds a little upset also. They are cute and yes destructive. I have this odd love of them ever since I read a book back in late 86 or early 87. I worked at the mall and this one girl who worked at the paperback book store would let us know when some were being tossed. There is some sort of thing that if the books weren’t selling, or something like that, they would tear the cover off and send it back. Thus throwing the books away. There was this one about theses raccoons that lived in a parallel word. This guy lived in Florida and worked at a 7/11 and liked to explore caves. He went in this one and when he came out he was in another world but did not know it at 1st. He wandered about and then he saw what he thought was a person but upon getting closer it was a raccoon fishing. The raccoons used sign language and one befriended this guy, his name was Dac (the raccoon. It was a good book as it was like I was watching a movie. I can not remember the name. I believe it had the word dream in it. But that is why when I see a dead raccoon along side the road I feel like I knew him.

  6. Alice, that book sounds vaguely familiar.

    Anyway, neither the momma nor the little ones have been seen back around the house. I will be optimistic and take that as a good sign.

    Every time I see a dead raccoon along the road I can’t help wondering how long it will take for them to evolve into animals that instinctively avoid cars.

  7. Tom I loved the book and have wished so over the years that I could find it. I have searched at different times but have not found it.
    Yes maybe they will become like the squirrels, the ones on TV. In Longview, Wa they have a squirrel bridge. It looks like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and was made so the squirrels could get to the park. I have picture somewhere. I will look for it.

  8. Cool Alice. Thanks for posting that. It’s a good idea to keep the squirrels out of traffic. I almost rear-ended a car the other day that braked suddenly to avoid a squirrel

  9. Wow! Sorry it’s taken a while to catch up with your blog Tom.

    Nicely documented nasty situation with appreciation for the color you added to the ordeal.

    I have no love for Raccoons. It’s a zero-tolerance thing. They’re not only destructive, they can be dangerous rabies-carrying pests.

    Once, while camping at nearby Hillsborough State Park, I complained to the ranger about the raccoons. He said the clueless have been feeding them.

    Just as with bears in the North Country, the only safe place for food in most State Parks is in the locked trunk of a car—or raccoons will get it.

    I had one enter my tent with muddy feet while I was away even though there was no food in it. The damn thing knew how to work a zipper!

    When I told the ranger I was going to lock the zipper shut, he said not to do that, because if it can’t pull the zipper, the raccoon will rip the tent fabric to get in.

    And the park’s hands are tied as far as being able to get rid of them or the pesky squirrels—which are also destructive and capable of ripping the screening on your new RV and getting in while you’re away.

    So, I have no real animal compassion for the youngsters. They will manage and probably live to cause you and Jan more grief.

  10. Mike, your experiences pretty much correspond to mine. Fools who have the “Disney” attitude about animals only make things worse. Unfortunately, few people have any direct contact with nature any more. They only get information from cartoons and zoos.

  11. Even though I think they areb cute and sort of feel like I know the raccoons. Because of that book that I read years ago, I have this feeling but would never get close enough to feed them. I know some people are like that with alligators and that is NOT a good thing. There was this lady at work who had taken a picture of a gator near her apartment complex and then said she wished she could get closer to get a better shot. I told her to get a bigger zoom lens. She said no that they just lay there. LOL