Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Northern Harrier, a Rainbow, and Pye the Stray Cat Comes Round

Photo Courtesy of the Illinois Raptor
Northern Harrier, Circus cyaneus

It is raining and the squirrels keep whining. I can't figure out why. It must be important because they are sitting out on the bare branches without cover getting soaked And it isn't just one or two, there are five squirrels in the backyard whining their guts out.

What is the problem? The cat is now in the house. The Cooper's and Sharpies have gone south as far as I can tell. Is there another cat? Not as far as I can see even with binoculars. I scan. Shoot! I forgot.

When I took the pick-up out of the garage yesterday, I had to move the riding lawn mower to the yard in order to get the truck out. And I forgot, left it there, and it's now been steadily rained on for quite some time.

While I've been looking, the rain has slowed down considerably, I should put the machine away now before the precipitation gets heavy again. Though the mower probably isn't going to start anyway as it tends towards non-starting mode in the first place.

But I should try. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

I scamper out with a towel, dump the water out of the seat, give it a quick swipe, hop on, turn the starter--and wonder of wonders she starts. I do a turn around in the back yard to get into position and start heading for the garage. When suddenly flying from behind me, about 8 feet off the ground, is a brown hawk with a big fat white rump spot. DRAT! DRAT! DRAT!!

So that's what the squirrels were going on about and I missed her. Unbelievable. I had a Northern Harrier, either a juvenile or a female sitting around in the backyard, and I missed her.

Harriers are very nifty . They have a facial disk similar to that of an owl. And for whatever reason they tend to hang out with Short-ears.

I realize that the sun is shining like crazy through the rain. There ought to be a rainbow out here somewhere. On cue, my cell phone rings. It's a Wisconsin friend, he says if I hurry up over to Frank's parking lot I'll be able to see the whole bow!

Scramble, scramble.

But as we all know, rainbows are transitory things . Part of the reason that they are so special. By the time I arrive at the appointed parking lot, the clouds have moved in and the whole bow is no longer visible. But that's alright. Even a portion of something that signifies a promise that brings hope is far better than none of it.

Then I think about the supposed pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow, and the third thing I think of, is sixth grade science class. White light breaks into what colors? Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet.

It's time to go back and check on Pye, the cat. Last night while Pye was insisting on pasting herself against the glass, sitting on the top of the very narrow window, I decided that I'd take the chance of touching her.

I slowly reached up and gave her a gentle scratch on the neck. She yowled and became even stiffer than originally if that was possible, but she didn't fling herself about the room as she had been doing previously, nor hiss, or scratch. That seemed a very good sign. As was the fact that she'd used the box when I looked. Excellent.

Periodically I went back and did it again. Then this morning I opened the door and she had gotten out of the window and was hiding behind the toilet. I made soothing noises, reached back and petted her again. Now she nervously meowed instead of yowling. Very good.

According to The Humane Society, no one has called and is missing a cat of Pye's description.

Once again I stopped in for petting repeatedly. I arrive with a cat brush and brush her her dirty matted fur. She likes it. Purr, purr.

She has mats an inch across on her chest and stomach, but they are matted right up to the skin so probably will eventually have to be cut off. A bath would help loads. I consider bathing her. Bad idea. Build more trust first. Brush, brush, brush. Beyond that, her fur isn't in bad shape once the dirt and bits are brushed out.

Back from the rainbow, I enter Pye's bathroom, she meows, comes out from behind the toilet after one pet--

...and rubbed her head on my ankle.

Then rubbed left.

Rubbed front.

Rubbed right.

And left again.

Then she planted herself between my feet and looked into my eyes, as if attempting to telepathically say, "Okay, I've used the box, and did all that sucking out. Will you let me out of the bathroom now?"

It was true, so I opened the door. She looked out but wouldn't pass the threshold until I did. Then she flattened herself a little closer to the floor and came out. Checking out the things that had been moved out of the bathroom before she went in.

Then she went under the bed--and yowled. Overstimulated maybe? I left the bedroom and closed the door. In a hour I came back. She was laying on the bed, hopped off , almost went under but changed her mind when I spoke. More petting. Then I turned off the light, went to the hall, and left the door open.

She peeked out but didn't come any further. Should I try to pick her up?
Worth a try. And she let me. We went to the living room. She took one look at the talking heads on PBS and fled back to the bedroom. ??? It turns out she is frightened of the TV. Has she never seen one before? That would be weird because she seems somewhat habituated to humans.

I retrieve her and sit in the chair. I don't hold onto her beyond petting her and she stays on my lap, meowing for more.

Donegal Browne

P.S. In actuality whether Pye is male or female is still an open question. I don't know that she's up for me flipping her onto her back for genitalia inspection. Age? She's small and I suspect young. Though as I don't know how to age cats by their teeth, which is the accepted technique, we'll have to wait for the vet to tell us.


Karen Anne said...

Pye sure is beautiful.

sally said...

congratulations on your bonding with Pye. She looks like a beautiful kitty that is lucky to have you rescue her!