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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Off the Grid: The bloodthirsty felines take it too far

By Ammi Midstokke For The Spokesman-Review

I love the spring. It comes with warm breezes and sun-heated greenhouses and birdsong. Unfortunately, it also comes with a fair amount of carnage at the claws of my cats. They are a furry gang of feline assassins, leaving feathers and limp moles strewn about my house.

They are why I wear shoes indoors. There’s nothing like stepping in a cool pile of entrails before you’ve made your coffee.

They do their feral job of keeping critters out of my garden, but let’s be honest: It’s not like I actually manage to grow anything anyway. If I stop them from hunting (or catching), I’ll be able to eat the ground squirrels myself if I need to. They are far more reliable than my cabbage crop.

It wasn’t the birds that made my mind up. It was a sinking suspicion that the cacophony of frogs keeping me up at night was dwindling in population. This year it seemed like a single Prince Charming was serenading hopelessly from the pond for a mate that is not to be found. I read once they can sometimes impregnate themselves and hoped I’d see tadpoles soon enough in my barren ponds.

The loudest frog in the world is a Puerto Rican Coquí and can croak up to 90 decibels, roughly like cuddling with my 7,000-watt propane generator. I’m not sure how the coquís got into my yard or if they just bred with a more obnoxious North Idaho Pabst Toad – I vaguely recollect kissing a few in college – but the noise is remarkable.

The rock walls around the ponds function as a natural amphitheater for these creatures of the night, their love song rattling the windows of my bedroom. I stack pillows on my head to drown out the noise and dream about their reckless chirping luring in the vicious appetites of my cats.

Also, I keep diary records of when they first start singing each year because I really do love them. They are the court jesters of the spring parade. They start their raucous noise even before the ticks begin crawling up my legs (another sign winter has definitely left).

“I think I can only hear one or two frogs,” I worriedly told my husband at 2 a.m. when it/they invariably woke me from my slumber last week. This week, I was pretty sure it was just one.

And I found him on my rug this morning, dried out like a fast food French specialty and stretched across my Persian knots. His little carcass hadn’t even been chewed. At least they eat the birds – beak and all. The fairytale frog was an entertainment kill for all I could tell. They are the Tsavo Man-Eaters of domestic cats.

The cats are fed organic, grainless, wild salmon – privileged cat food. It’s served on a beautiful slab of slate right near the warmth of the wood stove so they can eat with comfort. I don’t know what generation these cats are, but their entitlement has me suspecting they’re millennials.

Occasionally, I’ll hear them get into a fight with something outside and think to myself, “Circle of life, Kitty. Circle of life.” I assume it’s raccoons or coyotes or maybe a cougar they’ve ganged up on. Inevitably, they saunter in through the cat door leaving a trail of fluff behind them, bleeding a little from here or there, but seemingly no worse for the wear.

This morning on my daily run, I came across a fresh moose corpse. Actually, I almost tripped over its rigor mortis legs, thinking they were oddly symmetric branches. I stopped to look at the poor thing, just a young one, stiff and bloated, not yet pecked by nature but ripe enough to keep my distance. I couldn’t see what happened to him.

Probably the blasted cats, I thought. Enough is enough. If they would handle the protected woodpecker problem I have, I might let them sneak through another season unchallenged. But between the frogs and the moose, they’re all getting bells the size of their heads.

Ammi Midstokke can be reached at ammimarie@gmail.com

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