Ray has always been protective of “his” territory (the back garden) and wastes no time in checking that there are no intruders.
Any rabbit will be immediately pursued and, at least up until this moment, they have always managed to escape (thank goodness). They simply out manoeuvre him with some very fast 90 degree turns which, while no problem for a rabbit, are very difficult for a 75lb Ray to accomplish.*
Chipmunks seem to be a bit of a puzzle for him as he clearly knows where they are (in tunnels under our grass) and he can often be seen quite motionless with head on one side (listening?) and then pushing his nose along the ground, so possibly tracking one. I am not sure whether he has actually confronted one yet but they are no doubt very much aware of his presence.
Squirrels are quite different in that they will antagonize. They will sit and watch Ray accelerating towards them and, at the very last minute, will leap to safety. Their strategy has not always been successful as Ray has chalked up two to date that did not escape him.**
And then there are cats! We have no idea what has happened in Ray’s past but he has a very strong dislike of cats. As we pass known “cat homes” on our walks, he makes sure that he checks under any parked cars for one. In the event that he sees one, his body language is a very clear “Please unhook my leash and let me get that cat!”.
Just the other morning, Ray was let out into the back garden for a routine visit when he saw the cat! It was in his garden! According to Carol (I was inside), he wasted no time in charging towards it and while she has seen cats stand their ground, albeit hissing and spitting, this particular cat clearly thought that discretion was called for and immediately set a vertical take-off record as it shot up our maple tree which is right in a corner of our garden.
With Ray patrolling the bottom of the tree, and with the cat having nowhere to go, we had an obvious problem. Taking Ray inside was a partial solution but the next issue was how to get the cat down.
If the cat is a little stressed, then any attempt to catch it would probably drive it further up the tree. It had got itself into a situation where the only way out was vertically down the trunk and, while a squirrel could do that without any problem, I do believe that it is a very precarious move for a cat . Apparently their claw design (unlike that of a squirrel) does not facilitate climbing down head first. They would have to turn around and come down backwards ……. or simply just jump!
My initial thought was to “coax” it to jump by spraying it with the garden hose to try and prompt that option……….. but it had no place to land. The neighboring gardens had no clear landing spaces and the only place in our garden suitable for such a jump was where I would be standing with the hose.
We contemplated calling our Humane Society and/or the Fire Dept so that a ladder crew could get involved but, before we did that, we thought we should just leave it totally alone and see if it solved its own problem. We checked back 20 minutes later and …………… no cat! We have no idea how it did it but, the most important thing is that it did escape.
As an aside, the cat did not appear to have a collar, tag or any other obvious sign of identification. Further, in the Town of Oakville, cats are not supposed be free roaming. I wonder, if the owners had seen the circumstances that their irresponsibility had put their cat in, whether they would be more diligent in the future. My experience, sadly, is probably not!
*See “Rocket Boy!” – Nov 14, 2014
**See “Delusional Squirrel!” – Dec 8, 2014