The alert is for me, to make me pay attention. You’re looking at a gray fox in the back yard, just underneath a bird feeder. It’s been coming around to eat the sunflower seeds that fall down to the ground.
The way I found it was, I went to let the cat in but she didn’t move: frozen in mid-stride, hair straight up along her spine. When I opened the door a bit more, something whooshed around the corner and out of sight. I thought it was a coyote, although they don’t usually move that fast. Then yesterday I looked out from the living room, and there it was, about ten feet away, licking up the fallen seeds. So now things are coming to a head. For all my life, I’ve “fed the birds.” But suddenly this doesn’t look so good for Callie the Wonder Cat.
Gray foxes are rather small. Barely heavier than the cat in this case (if at all), but it’s likely they do go after pets. It’s hard to find any definitive guidance online. Some sites point out that full-grown cats are a lot for foxes to handle, others say not so. A Twitter follower who lives nearby told me old-timers here say they haven’t seen a fox “in many years.” Well, guess what?
Don’t get me wrong, I love the critters, but something must be done. First step is re-evaluating all the crap I feed the birds (and squirrels, and chipmunks, and raccoons). Last night my favorite local bull raccoon—about the size of a small hog, looks at me and sneers when I open the door and yell at him—not only wrecked my makeshift platform feeder the way he always does but also shit all over it. Maybe there’s a lesson here. The second step would be active intervention. I would never shoot a fox, although I have the means, but I would employ my hand-held freon air horn in the service of scaring him or her to death. The cat would probably run all the way to Santa Fe, but maybe she’d come back.
Gray foxes climb trees, too. No way for the Wonder Cat to make a getaway!