Cat rescues baby squirrel from certain doom
Without pictures no one is going to believe this story but I’m going to tell it anyway.
I have indoor/outdoor cats for a reason…they help shoo rats away from my yard and my crawlspace. I’m a softie for animals of (most) kinds but the tradeoff of losing a bird or lizard or caterpillar once in awhile far outweighs the terror of listening to something scritching scratching under the floor boards at 6 in the morning.
That’s why I was blown away this summer when I bounced out the back door one afternoon and caught Luca guarding — yes guarding — a baby squirrel.
At first I thought it was one of those times where I would just have to look away, yet again, but when I looked closer I realized his outstretched paw was simply touching the squirrel’s back, as if he was reassuring him that everything would be okay. Luca was just lying there next to him, chilling out, no batting, no mouthing, no any of the horrible stuff cats can do to their catches. How often does a cat rescue a squirrel?
I reached into my pocket to document the moment but not before Bryn ran over to to investigate. That idea quickly evaporated as I grabbed her collar before she could grab the squirrel. Luca was smart to be on guard against an 80-pound German Shepherd.
While I was putting Bryn back into the house Luca decided his squirrel-sitting shift was over, hopping up and over the back fence to find another adventure.
But what could possibly be more exciting than a baby squirrel?
Who knows how cats think.
So. Just the baby squirrel and me now.
I was torn, if I’m honest. I fight squirrels all the time thanks to their piggy habits with the bird feeders, so saving one seemed counterintuitive.
But. It’s. A. Baby. And I’m a mom. That activates hormones and feelings you didn’t even know you could have until you cross that threshold.
You can guess what happened next.
I grabbed my gloves and picked him up, still fast asleep.
Had he fallen from the nest?
Had Luca drug him out of the nest and was just playing it cool?
Where was mom?
What the heck do I do with a tiny squirrel that doesn’t even have its eyes open yet?
So many questions…it felt like a Talking Heads song.
I knew my sister had fostered a squirrel into a house pet years ago, but once turned loose, no fear of a cat (not Luca) proved fatal. Plus, as I mentioned, I have a German Shepherd. And two cats who likely won’t always be in Mary Poppins mode.
No way a baby squirrel is going to survive life in my house. Feeding and taking care of him was not an option.
Of course, the internet was next.
What did we do before we held computers in our hands?
I can’t imagine the World Book Encyclopedias had much on orphan squirrels.
I googled how to rescue baby squirrels and found an if-then flow chart from the Wildlife Center of Virginia offering clear and concise advice. Just what you need when you’re holding a sleeping squirrel in one hand.
Turns out the best thing you can do if it’s not injured is to try and reunite the little one with mom. They suggested a cardboard box wedged into a tree but none of my branches were low enough, so I bungee-corded it to the fence.
Either mom had escaped to Mexico on an extended vacation or she was watching Bryn and Luca and me and decided that junior was going to have to fend for himself with all that activity going on.
Back to googling. This time “wild animal rescue” and I found my way to NC Wildlife where you can search by county and species to find a local contact.
Out of the list I randomly picked someone from Wildlife Welfare and texted. She responded quickly to take it to a nearby animal hospital since she was out of town…which seemed like the perfect solution. A longer text conversation ended with her recruiting me to be a wildlife rehabilitator. Honored, but no. I was trying to get rid of the one I had, not take in more!
I unbungeed the box and closed the flaps on junior. After a short drive I dropped him outside the vet’s front door, thanks to Covid protocols.
I drove back home, kind of sad to see him go but thankful I hadn’t taken on any more responsibility than my current zoo, which seems pretty full most days.
I unlocked the front door, walked in and glanced at the suet feeder on the side of my house, locking eyes with a fat squirrel having dinner.
Sigh. I guess everybody’s gotta eat.
I called a truce.
It must be a mom thing.