Moo Cat, the feral cat, slept with me all night long at my campsite the other night. Like she often does. She likes to sleep on top of my chest. I think it gives her this sense of being King of the Mountain, as she surveys her domain from atop this lofty perch. And when I roll over on my side while I’m sleeping, Moo Cat usually keeps her balance and stays on top of me, sleeping on top of my side.
Which is fine by me. The ten pound blob of fur adds an extra layer of warmth on a cold night. The problem is, lately she’s been waking up around 5 in the morning, about an hour before it gets dark. And she starts making that aforementioned “meowing” sound. She’ll go right up to my head, inches away from me, and start “meowing” away. This plaintive cry. I mean, to hear her, you’d think she was starving to death. And if she didn’t get some morsels of nourishment at this exact moment she’s gonna’ keel over and die on the spot. It’s a desperate situation. Obviously.
I do my best to ignore her. I’ll bury my head under the covers and turn over on the other side. But she’ll just trot over to that side and start “meowing” in my face all over again. And she’ll emphasize the urgency of the situation by taking these little swats at my head with her paws. Just in case I’m not fully aware of her plight.
Finally, it gets too much for me to bare. The incessant “meowing” sound. So I’ll drag myself out of my sleeping bag and plop a can of cat food into her food dish.
So Moo Cat trots over there — saved at last! Nibbles away for a bit, maybe eats about a third of the food. Then trots back over to where I’m lying, climbs back on top of me, purring wildly, and goes back to sleep. And I’m feeling like: “Sucker!” But like I said, what can you do? It’s Natural Selection; highly complex behavior patterns that have evolved down through the centuries of cat/human interspecies relationships.
And then, later that night, the cats get me again. There’s three of them waiting at the foot of the trail to my campsite. They’ve probably been waiting there for hours, for me to show up. Then they eagerly follow me up to the trail to my campsite, and then commence with the “meowing” sound. Poor little babies alone in the woods in need of immediate assistance and etc. “Help me help me, please, mister, HELP ME!!!!”
Of course I know what’s going to happen the second I take out some food. A pack of raccoons are going to immediately descend on my campsite like a gang of marauding Hell’s Angels and scarf up all the cat food. And frankly: Its expensive enough to feed three cats every day. I can’t afford to feed a big pack of hairy, 30 pound raccoons on top of that.
So, logically, all I need to do is to avoid feeding the cats at night. Just wait until morning; the raccoons are nocturnal creatures and they’ll be long gone by the time the sun comes out. But, unfortunately, the incessant “meowing” sound has a biological power, and a supernatural imperative, that goes far beyond mere human logic. So in other words, I can’t resist feeding the cats at night even though I could save myself a lot of trouble if I did.
But tonight I’ve adopted what I think is a clever counter-plan to stymie the raccoons. Earlier in the day I had ground-scored six of these big, boneless fried chicken things. So, instead of dumping cat food into a dish — where its fair game for the raccoons — I individually hand the chicken to the cats. They daintily take the chicken in their mouths and scurry off to a safe place so they can scarf it down. Then they come back for seconds, and they’ve just about polished that off when the pack of raccoons show up. A step too late! Ha ha ha!! Too bad for you, ya’ bastard raccoons.
But it’s a short-lived period of gloating. The raccoons are pissed, and in the mood for a feeding frenzy. They can smell the fried chicken. They tear apart the cardboard container that it had been in. And wildly fight over any crumbs the cats had left behind. They know there’s food around here somewhere. So they start circling all around my sleeping bag. I can barely see them in the pitch darkness (they have excellent night vision themselves). But I can hear them stomping around, and they’re close enough where I could probably reach out and touch them. But fuck ’em. Too bad for them. I roll over and fall asleep.
The next morning I wake up and notice that those vindictive, bastard raccoons have made off with my back pack while I was sleeping. In fact they unzipped every compartment with their nibble little fingers, and dumped everything in my pack all across the woods. Of course they took out any food I had in my pack and gobbled down every morsel. They even opened up the little plastic box of Tic Tacs I had, and poured out each one of them into their nimble little hands. So, at least looking on the bright side, none of my raccoons will have bad breath.
But it shows you the damage that can be done to a human being, all on account of that “meowing” sound.
(click on picture to watch video)