The stray cats began showing up in the neighborhood early this spring. There were perhaps six or seven of them. This was around the time that my feline friend Orange stopped appearing at my door for a few weeks. The cats were a minor nuisance because they used my yard as a litter box. They were also harvesting songbirds.
The first indication of different type of invasion was a tall molehill adjacent to the garage’s west wall this June. I expected to find tunnels in the yard, but there were none. I raked the dirt mound down to level and thought nothing more of it.
Three weeks ago a series of tunnels appeared in the east section of my property several yards away from the garage. There was no molehill this time. The tunnel network was extensive and caused difficulty when I mowed the yard. There had been very minor mole or vole invasions in years past, but they were small and isolated. The creatures had never lingered beyond a few days. This year, the subterranean invasions are serious.
Meantime, I’ve been researching humane methods of removing the cats, the moles, and the voles. There are strict regulations about animal control in Nebraska and within Norfolk, so there are those complications. Animal control officials told me that I would have to trap the cats and bring them to their shelter.
I don’t own cat traps nor do I want to trap cats. None of the neighbors are willing, as well. The mole and vole solution also involves traps so as to avoid poisoning desirable fauna and pets. The penalties are steep if the regulations are unheeded. The process, as a whole, is inhumane and gives me pause.
Meantime, the stray cat population seems to have stabilized and the yard tunnels have not increased further, yet. Some sort of balance has occurred. I’m still wary of both types of invasion. This is a learning process because these have never happened in the more than 30 years I’ve lived in my house. I see this as just one more 2020 problem.
A few evenings ago, I was searching the Web for more solutions to the mole and vole invasions. The window blinds were still open so the front yard was still visible. Then, I noticed a pair of cats leaping in the yard as if they were playing with toys. As I looked closer in the dim light, a half-grown black and white cat had caught a small animal. It escaped the cat’s grasp, but the cat recaptured it. The cat then ran across the street to hide in the neighbor’s shrubbery; probably to eat the prey.
The next night, I opened the door for one last look at the outdoors, as is my habit. I was greeted by the sight of three golden kittens playing around. Their mother was nearby sniffing at one of the critter tunnels. I decided not to disturb the little family. I closed the door with a feeling of reassurance that nature would solve one of my dilemmas.
Meantime, I survey the yard each day for signs of further invasions of moles and voles. The same cats arrive several times each day, presumably to hunt small critters. The cats always spend a few minutes sniffing at the tunnels. There is now a makeshift truce between the cats and me. For the time being, the stray cats seem to be serving as organic pest control. I’ll leave the felines alone for now.
This minor, first-world scenario plays out in households across the country all the time. In the overall scheme of things, this is not a big deal. I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill. I’m sure I’ll come across a satisfactory solution.