The raccoons on my porch

My cat Toto is aging, and as she ages, her body is failing her. Mentally, she seems sharp, but after sixteen years, Toto’s hips are causing her obvious trouble. In fact, they make it so that she can’t use a litterbox effectively. She tries to squat, but mostly she just pisses out the back end of the box.

I spent the summer working with my vet to find things to help Toto, but nothing works. Since we can’t stand the smell of cat urine in the house, two weeks ago I took drastic measures. I banished Toto outside. (She gets to come in while I work, but I put her out for 80% of the day and night.)

Because Toto now lives outside, she eats and drinks outside. I’ve set up a heating pad on the porch, and given her own food and water area nearby. She seems perfectly content with this arrangement except when:

  • She’s out of food, or
  • She wants to be petted.

Strangely enough, she’s been out of food a lot lately. “I think another cat is eating Toto’s food,” I told Kris when I first noticed how quickly she was going through her bowl.

“Actually,” I said a couple of days later, “maybe it’s a dog. Whoever is eating Toto’s food keeps knocking the bowl over.”

But a few days after that, I realized that the food thief probably wasn’t even a dog. Whatever the critter was, it was messy. Every morning, Toto’s water dish was filled with mud. The food bowl was tipped over and the porch scattered with mud and debris.

“I’ll bet it’s a coon,” I told Kris. Though we live in a residential neighborhood not far from Portland, we’ve seen plenty of raccoons in the six years since we moved in.

Today I got to see the cat-food thievery first-hand. Turns out it’s not a raccoon — it’s a family of four. I was lucky enough to have my camera handy as they performed their daring raid:

My favorite part of this video is how Toto simply sits on her heating pad and watches the raccoons filch her food. She isn’t bothered at all. (After I stopped filming, one of the raccoons stepped on her, which caused her to hiss and swat, but the coon didn’t care.)

Now I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do. I’m well aware that feeding raccoons can cause woe. Next time, for example, the raccoon might swat Toto back. Or they could become aggressive with our three other cats.

I know that I want to feed Toto outside, but I have to find a way to do that without feeding the wildlife.