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Bay Gardener’s Cat

From a Norwegian forest to Upakrik Farm

Spooks adopted Upakrik Farm on the evening of All Souls Day in 1996. Our black cocker spaniel Dixie and I both saw a cat in our driveway. I thought it was our cat Pumpkin, a Maine coon cat, but Dixie gave chase and the cat jumped into the shrubbery. When I found Pumpkin in her basket, I concluded we had a visiting cat. Then I heard a yell from my wife. From the window ledge, which is seven-foot six-inches above the ground, a big gray cat with a white chest starring at her. The cat jumped with ease to the ledge of the window from which I was by then watching. It was evident that the cat was sure-footed and hungry. I placed a bowl of dry cat food on the window ledge. It ate it all in a flash and appeared to want more.

The cat, a neutered male, stayed around, following me to the barn where I fed him, But he wanted in the house. After three days we felt safe to let him in. He immediately went to the kitchen, sat in front of the refrigerator, and according to Clara, said Millllllk.

Attempting to find the owner, we placed ads in The Capital, distributed posters in public places including veterinary clinics. No owner claimed the cat, so he became ours. I named him Spooks because of his All Souls Day arrival.

As we got to know him, we discovered he wasn’t like any cat we’d know. Most days, he’d run across the yard and climb to the top of our 35-foot birch, stay a while, then climb down the tree headfirst. Our research on cats led us to the Norwegian forest cat, which originated in the days of the Vikings and is the ancestor of the Maine coon cat. Spooks fit its description to a T.

I’ve seen him bat down a barn swallow that was dive-bombing him. When we adopted our five-month-old golden retriever Dandy, we assumed the dog would be chasing Spooks. It was Spooks who chased Dandy.

Our neighbor’s Portuguese water dog, Oliver, got worse. One day Oliver’s persistent barking annoyed Spooks, who was lying on the picnic table. I heard a blood-curdling yelp and saw Oliver running down the driveway like his tail was on fire. Spooks appeared as if he had just landed from a long jump. Now Oliver will not come closer than 10 feet to Spooks, who chases him when he gets too close. This spring, Spooks cornered Oliver in the garden shed. Oliver was giving blood-curdling yelps while Spooks clawed at him. I had to grab Spooks so Oliver could escape.

Dr. Grant Nissan at Muddy Creek Animal Clinic estimated that Spooks was three years old when he adopted us. We have cared for him for the past 14 years. He still catches his share of mice, but now he spends much of his time sleeping. As I type this, he is under my desk in my barn office.


Tell Us More about Shotgun Repels-All

On August 12, the Bay Gardener recommended Shotgun Repels-All to deter garden visits by deer, groundhogs, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels and moose. Local interest in the product has been high.

Q Was very interested in your article about the repellent and would like to know where it can be purchased in and around Calvert County or on-line.

–Bob Pfeiffer, Port Republic

 

Q I have all the animals you mentioned except moose. Now where do you buy the product?

–Frank at rehcuob@comcast.net
 

Q From your experience with the product, do you prefer granules or the spray? I plan to use it around several large hosta patches and garden greens, tomatoes ...

–Claire Dobert, Fairhaven

 

A I purchased mine at R. Cross Southern States in Upper Marlboro. I believe that there is also an R. Cross in Calvert County. My brother purchased his at the Agway in New Hampshire. I used the granular form; he used the liquid form and had the same results.


Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly.
Please include your name and address.