Tuesday 15 December 2015

Me vs Big Snarly Cats

You may have noticed over the last year or so, that I take exception to a rather large number of the resident population of animals in the area where I live. I’ve touched upon my disdain for the local road lemmings (deer), the mice, the spiders, and the bear (although I can’t really hold it responsible for wanting my delicious food waste), and I just want to put it out there that I don’t hate animals.

If I lived by the ocean, nothing would give me more joy than to watch whales and dolphins jump in the waves. I could watch river otters play for hours. They make me think of little cats…..except they like the water, aren’t nearly as pretentious, and are generally bigger than cats, ….but that time my cat fell in the bathtub, he did roll around a lot, which was kind of otter-like.  

Not cougars, but they still have
sharp bits
I like house cats. I have two, and despite waking me up at all hours to receive love, walking over my pillow with their cat litter paws, and meowing in front of my kids doors in the morning because they’ve figured out that I will leap out of bed to feed them so the kids don’t wake up, they’re lovely. I even like the resident marmots, and their less portly relatives the ground squirrels, despite the ankle-breaking holes they dig all over the yard. Being a ground squirrel is what I imagine being on amphetamines must be like…hyper alert, running everywhere, and yelling (chirping, but I envision it as yelling) at anything that comes near you.  

But, and I’m sure many will agree with me here, I don’t like cougars. It’s not even actual cougars that I dislike, but more their desire to eat people (read: me) that they every so often display. I realize that this isn’t terribly common, and there are a lot of other nasty things out there that can end me, but I’ve had cats that bite me a lot and it hurts like fucking hell, so I don’t think getting eaten by a much larger cat would be any improvement.

Cougars eat meat, and I’m meat. This is pretty straightforward.

Bears, being the other large animal of concern out here, will eat meat as well, but I picture them as more open to food that doesn’t fight or run much, like berry bushes and logs filled with bugs. This being said, don’t go out of your way to piss them off by giving them a hug (it’s a bear-hug in name only), or try for a selfie with a grizzly (It happens. Morons.), but in general, I’m just not as worried about them. This is probably due to the fact that bears don’t really try to hide. They bumble along making an ungodly amount of noise and eat whatever is easiest to get. Mostly my garbage. Cougars, however, stalk you, because they are motherfucking lions.  

Mountain lions.

Basically it’s like we’re in Africa being stalked by regular lions, but these ones have an extra vector: they can hide in trees and jump down on your unsuspecting head. That’s freaky shit when you’re out in the woods trying to enjoy nature.

Not a guard dog, but at least he's pretty
In response to this threat (real or imagined) I got a dog. I thought that he would offer some protection, or at least warning when it comes to these apex predators in the area, however I am not convinced he actually does.  While he sticks to me like glue inside the house, the jackass takes off the moment the door is opened and returns hours later with a deer bone from a stash he found months ago. And the last time he encountered a bear on a walk, he completely failed to notice it, and he generally won’t go outside right now because it’s cold. Not a terribly useful protector.

This brings me to a hiking trip I was a part of on Vancouver Island a few years ago. A couple of hours into the hike our group came across a sign that warned hikers to stay in groups of 3 or more, as cougars were in the area and would stalk you if you were alone. Our group was had about 10 hikers, no problem. Unfortunately the 10 of us were split into three separate groups: The fast people, the slow people, and the middle person: me. I was my own group. Of one. Which, for those keeping score, is less than 3. This immediately made the cougar warning the scariest sign I’ve ever seen.

Happily I didn’t die, though I don’t know if it’s because there were no cougars around that day, or because I was talking in three different voices so any cougar in the area would think “Hey, there’s a group of 3 happening down there. Maybe next time”. Yeah, that’s right, I’m that awesome.

The strangest part of this paranoia I have about cougars is that unlike the deer whom I would happily see eradicated from the town limits (they can go live in the forest, not in the DQ parking lot), I don’t actually want cougars to be killed; I just don’t want them near me or my family. The sad part, and back to the idiotic deer again, is that the cougars come into the town because of the deer, and then have to be put down because they pose a threat. I really wish this didn’t happen, because despite the Jamie-eating capabilities of these animals, they are beautiful. In pictures. That were not taken by me.

So to summarize, deer suck, cougars are pretty, and I would like to avoid being eaten. 

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