Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | News | Local News | Contact Us | Home RSS

MARTHA SEZ: The cats are bored, but cougar love is in the air

February 16, 2018
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

By the time this newspaper goes to press Valentine's Day will be safely over (there's always next year), and we will be more than halfway through February, since it is a short month, technically.

Subjectively speaking, of course, February is the longest month. One good thing is that now when I leave work at 5 o'clock I am walking out into daylight instead of the dead of night.

Yes, it is still winter, and it will still be winter for some time, but not all Adirondack wildlife is frozen under winter's spell. The little saw-whet owls and the barred owls, also called hoot owls, are courting now, looking for mates, while the great horned owls are already sitting on eggs.

I think of the arrival of the blackbirds as the first sign of spring in the Adirondacks, but before the blackbird males come flocking into town in early March, the great horned owls are already in incubation mode. According to British folklore, birds choose their mates on St. Valentine's Day.

My cats, Orange and Jupiter, seem bored. Orange apparently goes into a state of partial hibernation, or torpor, in winter. Since he is a fairly torpid fellow in any event, it takes a trained eye to detect this subtle seasonal difference in activity.

Jupiter likes to look out the window, but seldom shows an interest in going out into the snow. When he does go out, he comes right back inside and, more often than not, lunges at Orange and chases him under the bed in a fit of pique.

Jupiter also demands that I bounce a super ball around the bathtub. I know that he would prefer for me to bring him a small animal to torment in the tub, but there is a limit.

Predators are hungrier and more likely to kill house cats in the winter than in the summer, so I'm glad that Orange and Jupiter aren't always yowling to go out. Constant yowling can get very irritating. For years, I have been afraid that a fisher will get them, but I just read an article written by a biologist who is skeptical of stories about fishers eating cats. He thinks it is unlikely, and holds coyotes solely responsible for nonvehicular house cat deaths.

Cats are too big to be prey for fishers, he writes, and he has yet to find any evidence of cat fur or bone in fisher scat.

I would be happy to think that fishers don't kill cats, but I am pretty sure they can. After all, porcupines are a staple of their diet. I have heard that in order to kill a porcupine a fisher will creep up under the tree limb where it is sleeping and slash its stomach, which is unprotected by quills.

According to other, perhaps more scientific, accounts, the fisher dances around attacking the porcupine's face to disorient it, then somehow flips it over and bites its belly. My point here is that if fishers routinely kill porcupines, I am pretty sure they can kill cats.

The biologist who doubts that fishers kill cats also claims to doubt that people can identify a fisher when they see one, and refuses to believe accounts of cougar sightings in the Adirondacks.

Casting aspersions on people who claim to have seen cougars inside the Blue Line is a sure way to get me riled up, since I saw a cougar in St. Huberts one day while I was picking berries. That cougar was watching me with a certain interest, the way cats do, as if he was deliberating.

I suspect that Bob the biologist is just jealous that he has never seen a cougar in the wild. Perhaps some day Bob will notice that a cougar is stalking him along some woodland path. Perhaps the cougar will chase Bob back to his car, and perhaps Bob will live to tell about it. But of course Bob's colleagues will never believe him.

When spring comes, all the herbivorous wild animals will have plenty of plants to eat, and the carnivores will eat the herbivores, and the tempo of life will pick up again.

Don't worry, Orange, before long Jupiter will find better things to do than chase you under the bed.

Don't worry, Jupiter, you will be able to go outside in the sunshine to kill little rodents again, your reflexes kept sharp by chasing a ricocheting super ball around the bathtub.

Have a good week.



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web