I suppose you’ve seen fat happy groundhogs near the side of a road, chowing down on weeds and grass. I looked up their diet a few days ago and found this: “Primarily herbivores, groundhogs eat a variety of plants, including from people’s gardens. But they also may eat things we consider pests, such as grubs, other insects, and snails.”
Oh yeah? Well, I’ve discovered that they also eat dry cat food―a lot of it―if they are left to their own devices.
I’ve been feeding stray cats on my porch for years. But as you may have guessed, I have a new visitor scarfing up the food. As if the birds and raccoons were not enough, I now have to contend with a groundhog.
Here’s Nelson questioning me about the new visitor helping himself to the food that’s not meant for him.
I first saw the new guy in a quick flash of motion on the Ring camera, dashing across the porch. I hoped he was simply passing through―but no. He’s now a regular visitor, eating his weight in cat food every day.
Because of all the uninvited diners, I have to keep shifting my wildlife feeding schedule. My main goal is to help out stray cats. Here Hester (Holly’s mom) and her good friend have just had a midmorning snack. If you don’t know, Holly is the feral cat I converted to in-house living. Hester is her forever-feral mom who still hangs around here for the food.
I had been leaving cat food on the porch all day, until I discovered that the jays, starlings and an occasional crow were scarfing it up―and splattering the porch with their calling cards. Now I check in the morning to see if there’s any food for the cats’ breakfast. If not, I put out a little, then don’t fill the bowls again until maybe 6:00 PM. Later, would you believe, I check at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning to see if the raccoons have cleaned out the food. If the bowls are empty, I put out more food and hope that the cats are getting it.
Now comes a problem I haven’t had to deal with for over a year. I’m planning to go on two trips later this year―first to a friend’s beach house and then to a conference in Florida (Which I may reconsider). I know I can get a catsitter for my indoor companions, but no catsitter is going to come here at 3:00 in the morning. She’ll put out breakfast food inside and also for the outside critters. But will the groundhog and birds eat it before any cat sees it? And in the evening, it’s cats versus raccoons. Any suggestions–besides hoping for the best?
NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.