So I normally consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable (don't we all) and pretty sure that the things I am doing are good things (don't we all again).
Last night not only did I prove I wasn't doing something good, but I also scared myself half to death in the process!
You can watch the video of course, or you can read on for the full details...
In the summer of 2018 we started seeing a young stray calico cat outside behind our house. We wanted to encourage the cat to keep coming by because we have a garden and the cat wasn't using it as a bathroom, but was clearly enjoying relaxing in the plants.
This helps keep all sorts of pests out of the back area and we of course just liked helping out a stray cat by feeding it here and there.
Now do note the cat never once let us anywhere near it. The second we'd come around the corner or try to step toward her she would bolt off into the alley.
But as the months went by...
We kept feeding her and we'd see her more and more. On top of this we have a Ring device which is one of those security cameras that let's you keep an eye on what happens based on motion sensors.
Most of the time we'd see alerts pop up at 3 or 4 in the morning and we'd see her scamper across the back yard and right into the location we'd leave the food in. It was a covered spot to keep it from getting wet, so we didn't get to watch her eat.
But on occasion we'd actually see her out the window of our bedroom chowing down on the food. Note Lexi and Beast were not happy when they saw her so we moved their cat window bed and left the blinds closed for the most part.
Enter the Polar Vortex
If you don't have your head buried in the sand you've probably noticed it has been cold this week. Really cold. And Chicago has been one of the coldest places in the continental US.
As the temperatures continued to go down I got worried. I'd been putting food out for a while and it kept disappearing and I had the videos of her running across the back. This was true even in the winter.
Now weather called for wind chills into the area of -40 to -50 the last two nights. That is insanely cold and I wanted to try to do something to give the cat a warmer place to stay.
So I Improvised
I didn't have time to put anything like a heated bed together and didn't want to spend the money on one if the cat wanted nothing to do with it.
I had an old Sterilite container around. I cut a hole in it quickly and wrapped the edges in duct tape for safety. I added a layer of cardboard on the bottom to slightly raise it off the cold ground.
Then I put in a super warm comfy blanket. I added another upside down U-shaped piece of cardboard on top of it to close it in even tighter and then added another super warm comfy blanked.
What resulted was an ad hoc cat house shielded from the elements and a nice cozy area that my stray friend could relax and sleep! What a brilliant man I am!
I immediately put it outside Sunday night, the first night we were supposed to get really cold. I added a small trail of cat food down my steps into the shielded area and right into the door of the box.
Monday after work I checked it. Awesome. The food was mostly empty. This wasn't supposed to be anything compared to the weather on Tuesday though. I was very proud of myself. Now the cat knew where to hide!
I refilled the food, re-wrapped the blankets. Everything was looking awesome. Then on Tuesday night I went to catch up with my friend for a beer and figured I'd check everything when I got back.
Not So Great Success
When I got home after my beer I went right out to check. I wanted to make sure there was food for my fluffy friend. The minute I reached my hand in the box I felt the empty food bowl. Wow, great.
Then about half a second later I was greeted by none other than....
Click to See Who Greeted Me
A huge brown rat ran right over my hand.
I immediately slipped backward and fell on my back and hit my head (I'm fine).
The rat ran off and hid in my patio furniture.
Aren't I Sheepish Now?
Turns out that instead of actually feeding a stray cat I have probably mostly been feeding a rat or group of rats. So much for keeping the rats away by encouraging the cat to stay!
Probably not the best thing in the world for my neighborhood or for much of anything! And on top of it I ended up feeling like a total more on in the process.
Although I've brought my box back inside and decided to hold off on more food for the moment, I have still been keeping an eye out for our neighbor cat and will definitely put out food and water as necessary.
Wrapping It Up....
Hopefully you got a laugh out of this! If you have any silly or embarrassing stories you'd like to share regarding feeding cats and rats or other creatures, maybe even a raccoon, please leave a comment below!
Have a wonderful week and stay warm out there everyone. Please keep an extra close eye on any pets that you let outside to ensure they don't get hurt in the frigid temperatures.
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