Here Kitty! Kitty!
Opossums & Kittens Oh My!
What happens when a big city gal with two small girls moves into a mobile home in a small town? She learns about local wildlife very quickly. Opossums and Kittens, Oh My!
A Good Beginning
When my two girls were still small, I moved from the town I had lived in for almost two decades to a different part of the state to pursue a new job. After a few months of trying to control hyper 1 and hyper 2 in an apartment, I found a pretty good deal on a small trailer in a park on the edge of town.
I was ecstatic! No more calls from the downstairs neighbor or the apartment manager. The girls could play outside and I was taking what I thought was the first step to home ownership. The price was reasonable, the lot rent and utilities were cheap. A quick inspection showed that everything seemed to be pretty much okey-dokey. The owners would even leave the kitchen stove and refrigerator.
There were a couple of downsides to it. First, it was only a 10 x 60 trailer. Not much room for storage--so I bought an outdoor shed. Next, the back of the trailer was on the edge of the park and behind the trailer there was nothing but corn fields. Lastly, it was old. I knew that, eventually, I would have to make some repairs.
All Was Going Fine...
The girls and I moved in during the spring. We had a great summer and pretty good winter there, although I did discover that mice would come in on a regular basis and I learned more than I wanted to about traps. The girls enjoyed being able to go in and out as they pleased and I got them a swing set to keep them occupied. Life was good!
We also got a cat. The girls named him Monster Kitty. The trailer park was rife with strays and sometimes they had litters. Monster was part of a litter found by a neighbor under his trailer and the girls begged and begged for one, so I agreed. Monster was not only the girls’ playmate, he was also our bug and mouse catcher. Flies were annihilated with poise and pounce. Mice required careful stalking and then a flurry of jumps and Voilà! No more mouse! He was a good kitty, we loved him to death.
The spring of our second year living there was when I learned that the local animal control will make weekend calls if you are hysterical enough. The problem had actually begun a few weeks before. The weather had finally warmed up and the girls could go out and play. My youngest, almost 4, kept coming in and telling me about the kitties in the shed. After questioning her over several days, I came to the conclusion that one of the strays must have decided to have a litter under our outdoor shed.
I explained to both girls that the kittens were to be left alone. The momma kitty would not like it if they got too close. I never bothered to actually look for myself; I took my daughter at her word that they were kitties. I should have checked. It would have saved me a whole lot of embarrassment and fright.
Until Cleaning Day
On a nice warm Saturday, I decided to spring clean, pull out the stove and fridge, clean behind them, etc. etc. It’s the typical domestic scene that happens in many houses. The girls were outside swinging away and I began to move things around in the kitchen to clean.
Monster Kitty was acting decidedly strange. He kept staring at my stove, watching it like there was something in it. Normally, I left him alone and let him do his thing. Today I decided to take a look. I went over to the stove and it hissed at me! My heart stopped and I froze in the act of lifting up the stove lid. I looked back at Monster Kitty and the wretch leaped off the counter and ran in my bedroom!
Okay, there’s something in my stove top. What to do? I backed away and grabbed a woman’s best defense--a broom. Using the handle, I poked and maneuvered it until I could begin to lift the stove top and it hissed at me again! That was enough for me! The stove was obviously possessed and I had no clue what was in there. Out the trailer door I went. I never touched a step going down either.
The girls stopped their swinging after watching mommy dive out the door. They sat there just looking at me, probably wondering if they could try jumping out next. I took a deep breath, grabbed the broom and determinedly marched up the steps. Whatever it was, I was not going to be run out of my home!
Back in the kitchen, I managed to ignore the hissing sound long enough to raise the stove lid high enough for it to stay up on its own. Beady red eyes, a pointy black snout and really sharp looking teeth were what greeted me. I stared in utter disbelief. There was a baby possum stuck in my stove, trapped under the gas line to the burner. How in the world did it get there and more importantly, how was I going to get it out?
With decidedly shaky hands I grabbed the phonebook and looked up the number for animal control. Grabbing the phone, I quickly dialed. In the meantime, I watched the possum, hoping it would stay right there. I didn’t want to think about what would happen if it actually got out of the stove.
Being Saturday, I got an answering machine that informed me that Animal Control was closed but if I had an emergency to please call the local sheriff’s office. I couldn’t decide whether or not to laugh or to cry. Instead, I did what any sane individual would do, I called 911. This constituted “emergency” in my book!
I know 911 operators get a lot of strange calls. I understand they have a really tough job, saving lives, stopping crimes and generally making us all feel safer. I, however, provided them with something they desperately needed – comic relief.
“911, what is the nature of your emergency?”
“There’s a possum stuck in my stove, the message said to call the sheriff!"
“Ma’am, I need you to calm down, there’s what in your stove?"
“A possum! There’s a baby possum in my stove and the cat ran away and the kids are stuck outside and it keeps hissing at me and animal control said to call the sheriff and. . . . . ”
“Honey, take a breath and try to stop crying. You said there is an animal stuck in your stove?”
“Yes, it’s stuck and it’s hissing at me! It has teeth!”
“Can you dislodge the animal?”
“Lady, it has teeth! I need someone to come get this thing out of my stove!”
“Okay, I understand your problem; what kind of animal did you say you thought it was?”
“A possum! P-O-S-S-U-M. . . wait isn’t there an O at the beginning? A possum, red eyes, pointy nose and really big teeth! That type of possum!”
“Alright, Animal Control is on its way and will be there directly; are you going to be okay?”
“As long as that thing doesn’t get loose! What do I do if it gets free?”
“Ma’am, I honestly don’t know, I’ve never had a situation like this before.”
“Well, do you know how long they are going to be? The girls will have to come inside soon.”
“I don’t know ma’am – we radioed them and they said they were coming right over.”
“ What’s taking them so long?”
“ Well, it’s only been three minutes since you called in.”
“Oh, sorry but I’m standing here staring at it and its staring back at me.”
Now, I have to applaud that dispatcher. In the face of a crying woman who obviously had no clue about wild animals, she managed not to laugh. But, I thank my lucky stars that this happened in a time before reality TV and You Tube. I’m sure there was hysterical laughter at some point in that dispatch room.
Begin Operation Embarassed
In due course, Mr. Animal Control showed up. He took one look at my stove, went back to his truck and came back carrying a long threaded pole, heavy duty leather gloves and a cage. I stood back and watched him wrestle that baby possum out of the stove and into the cage. It was a slick piece of work because that baby fought and hissed the whole time. No wonder Monster Kitty ran, I wanted to as well.
Since I didn’t know how the possum had gotten into the trailer in the first place, we decided to pull the stove out to see if there was any way to get in from the back. Directly under the stove was something I had known nothing about, a hole went straight down, large enough for one of my daughters to have fit through. I sheepishly admitted that I knew nothing about the hole when I moved in. Who moves appliances to check floors?
Mr. Animal Control told me that since this was a baby, mommy had to be around somewhere and he would leave out traps to catch her and any other babies. As we went outside to put the baby in the truck and get the traps, my daughters finally realized that this might be a pretty big deal. They wanted to see what was in the cage. The gentleman lowered the cage so the girls could see in and my embarrassment was then completed by my youngest child’s exclamation of, “Look Mommy, he caught one of the kitties!”
Operation Embarassed- Complete!
Upon questioning again, the girls showed Mr. Animal Control exactly where the “kitties” were. It turned out to be under our shed. In about a week’s time, Momma and four more babies were rounded up and relocated and our wildlife adventure was over.
Not too long afterword, we moved into a bigger and newer trailer. I knew then that word had definitely gotten around about my little adventure. When I went to inspect the trailer before agreeing to buy it, the owners had pulled the stove out from the wall and left a note – No possums allowed! We lived there for the next 4 years – no possums, no mice, and one bored cat!
For More on My Animal Adventures....
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