"Mom, the cat has been BAD."
I imagined mounds of cat yack on the bottoms of my curtains, piles of cat poop at the base of the stairs, and other bad-cat shenanigans.
"She took a loaf of bread to the family room and it's all over the place. Aaaand, she tore into her cat food and ate the whole bag!"
Darren and I looked at each other and both said, "That's not the cat."
I was scared of what we'd find. Mice? A rat? A squirrel. Remember the bird? The possum story flashed across my mind, too. Darren headed downstairs to see if we'd left the back door open and something had walked right in, but a quick check assured us that wasn't the case. It was latched and locked.
As I worked my way (timidly) down the stairs, I immediately realized that strange things were afoot at the Circle K; the cat was not on my heels, nor was she underfoot herding me to her empty food bowl as she does every morning without fail. No, she was cowering in my bedroom, budging nary an inch. Weird.
The first place I looked was the family room. Sure enough, there was a bread wrapper with a large hole chewed in it, and bread crumbs strewn about everywhere. I ambled to the kitchen, where Darren was staring curiously at the wall high above the refrigerator; it was covered in muddy paw prints. A bifold door that we'd taken from the entry to our laundry area and stored between the fridge and the wall was on its side in the middle of the kitchen. I have no idea how we didn't hear it come crashing down in the night; our bedroom is situated directly above the kitchen.
The cat's food dish was empty, which isn't unusual, but her water bowl was full of dirt, which IS. Also noticeable was a bag of cat food, torn open and EMPTY. We couldn't figure out what did it, or how it got in.
Suddenly, Darren remembered something he'd read recently. "Raccoon!" he shouted. "Down the chimney!"
When I opened the door to the front room, the stench of animal urine greeted me. Sure enough, there were puddles on the hardwoods. Pictures, a plant, and books were knocked over on a table. Across the room, we discovered more paw prints, this time on boxes and rugs and other piles of garage sale stuff I've been collecting from closets and cabinets and storing in the corner of this room. There were also prints on the window sill.
These prints were much clearer than the muddy prints in the kitchen, and from my recent Crime Scene Investigation escapades at Fortress (I never blogged about that, did I?), I recognized immediately that the intruder was a raccoon, and that it had been tromping through fingerprint powder. Or not. Perhaps it made more sense that is was soot.
And sure enough, it was. Newly fallen sand, leaves, and pebbles dusted the logs in the fireplace.
I snapped a few pics, cleaned up the urine (which was ORANGE. Disgusting.), got ready for work, and left Darren to handle the rest. As I left the house, the cat was still cowering upstairs. What a waste of an animal that cat is. She acts like a guard dog when we have invited guests, and yet when a raccoon invades at night, she cries like a girl.
Or maybe she protected us. After all, there was no evidence that the raccoon ever made its way up the stairs. Whatever the case, Ashlie the Cat was a fraidy cat this morning.
I only hope that when the raccoon perched its paws on the window sill to look out over Magnolia Avenue, there were no neighbors jogging by, or walking their dogs, or heading to work in the predawn hours. "Those Kocurs are a bucn of riff-raff. First Naked Guy, now a pet raccoon."
Never a dull moment around here. I can't make this stuff up.