Alex Palmer's Natural History Notes and Thoughts

Thoughts and reflections on various social and environmental issues, as well as naturalist observations from the great outdoors.

Squirrelly Teaser

At 10:00am this morning, as the sun was shining in my backyard and the temperature a calm 68 degrees F, I witnessed something unusual.

Now, as a future professional naturalist, I’m really not supposed to anthropomorphize.  But this morning I just could not help it.

My cat, Manson (Photo A),  was sitting in his usual spot on the chair outside on the patio. He looked comfortably lethargic, all curled up in the morning sun.  The, I noticed two Grey Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) on either side of the yard along the wooden fence.  They both looked at Manson and then back at each other.

Photo A: My cat Manson

Then, one of the squirrels made a rather daring move.  It began to cross the patio very cautiously, and it went right past my cat. Once it reached the other side, it looked up at the other squirrel and gave a reassuring glance.  Then, that same squirrel once again crossed the patio and went right past my cat to the other side.

At this point, the squirrel that was waiting on the other fence decided to make his move.  He crept slowly along the house.  It nearly walked right into my kitchen, but I scared him away by shouting, “No, stay out!”  It complied and returned to its fence.  Finally, after some more teasing of my cat, Manson got up and chased both of the squirrels up two different trees.  Once the squirrels were up in the tree and out of site, my relieved looking cat went back to his char and continued his nap.  The squirrels did not return for several hours.

Was I wrong to intepret this scenario as squirrels teasing my cat?  What else could it have been?


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