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This morning at about 6:15, the sun was up, and the morning quiet. Char, our spunky 6-year old black cat, was sitting at the front corner of our yard, atop the fence that divides us from our neighbors to the east. She was keenly focused on some thing, or some activity, down the length of the fence at the rear corner of the yard. My wife and I slowly and quietly tiptoed across the lawn toward the fence to benefit from Char's perspective.

Not until we looked directly down the top of the six foot grape-stake fence could we appreciate the target of her interest. There at the intersection of this wooden fence and the concrete block wall at the rear of the lot was a mother possum with a small baby crawling around on her back. She was staring right back at Char, sporting a seriously defensive posture.

While watching the possum, I didn't realize that Char had jumped down from the fence into the neighbor's yard and was creeping toward the possums' position. Standing on the bottom rail of the fence, then peering down to their rear corner of the neighbor's yard, we could see four desperate baby possums trying to reach their clearly frantic mother.

As it turned out, Char wasn't interested in breakfast, but was simply curious about these strange four legged critters. Of course the mother possum didn't know that, nor did she now that we weren't a threat to her youngsters.

I hustled to the garage to get a couple of long boards that might serve as a ramp for the babies to climb, but the makeshift ramp proved too slick -- after climbing just a couple of inches, the babies would simply slide back down to the ground.

From the trunk of the car I pulled a picnic blanket and a bundled rope. We folded the blanket in a narrow/long fashion an draped it across the makeshift ramp, thinking that the babies might be able to climb the fabric better than the smooth lumber. No such luck.

The mother possum, who had shifted down the rear block wall about ten feet when I first started my activities, realized (I assume) that we meant no harm and that we was trying to help. She came back to the fence intersection (to only about two feet from my shoulder), continuing to make clicking sounds though the side of her mouth. The babies on the ground would respond with similar, louder, higher-pitched clicks.

I next dropped a length of rope down the corner of the neighbor's lot to the ground, wrapping it around the top of the failed lumber ramp. It didn't take long for three of the circling and clicking babies below to latch on to the rope, one by one, and shimmy up the required seventy two inches, then climb atop their mother.

While these three were jointly solving their isolation problem, the fourth was off looking for an alternative way to get to the fence top. It had wandered down the fence line half way down the lot, entirely missing out on the escape example offered by its siblings.

After several more audible clicks from mother possum, the lone baby started making its way back to the rear corner.

Circling about the grounded end of the rope several times, it finally started making the climb. Hand over fist (or, is it paw over paw?) the little possum scaled the half inch diameter cord. Upon reaching the top, it pushed aside any siblings in its way and found a safe slot on its mother's back.

All six of them sat for several minutes staring back at us (again, just twenty four inches from my side. I imagined the mother was grateful (as grateful as a possum can be =). After a time, she slowly managed a half turn to climb back on top of the block wall, resuming their jouney to who-knows-where.

I wish I’d had a camera handy.

Edited by cursor
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We have a cat--Steve--who is staying with my parents for a few weeks while we are in transition. They have a doggie door for their pets, and it was hilarious watching Steve try to figure out how their animals got outside and back in without anyone opening the door. Poor Steve, who is more cute than he is smart, took almost two whole weeks to figure out how the 'magic portal' worked.

Last night he proved that he still doesn't quite get it though, when he went through the pet door while the door was open and was very confused about why he was still in the living room, even though he was on the other side.

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Cursor... what a wonderful experience. Thanks for not giving up on helping the little ones find a way to mom.

I wish I could remember how to post a picture... I'll figure it out... because I would love to have you see my beautiful big cat... Bob... 20 lbs, about 4 years old. I mention him on the board quite often.

You don't want to get me started, waxing poetic about Bob and how beautiful, funny, smart, etc etc he is...

Bob was a shelter cat... after I had to put down my Charlie-cat after 14 years, (he became suddenly ill and the vet couldn't save him), I waited a few months and then decided to go to the shelter. So I went online to the shelter's website to see what type of cats they had. Here was a picture of this beautiful black and white cat... the look in his eyes was one of confusion and fear... broke my heart. I had decided that the cat I would choose would be completely different than Charlie, so when I saw Bob I called them immediately and put a hold on him until I could get to the shelter the next day. The minute I saw him I said... Oh, he's just what I want!!! And so I brought him home... it took him about two weeks to come out from under the furniture, but once he did it was wonderful. What a loving and gentle cat! And I'm not kidding when I say how smart he is... I didn't think I'd find another cat as smart as Charlie, but Bob meets or exceeds him.

I watch this program on Animal Planet station called "My Cat From He**" and they show this "cat whisperer" who goes around helping people with their cat behavior problems, some quite scary and dangerous. I say to Bob... How did I ever luck out to find you??!

He is a perfect companion for this old lady, sharing my little cottage...

BTW... I think when it is a one on one situation like me and Bob, a special bond develops and the communication is heightened... Bob knows and understands quite a number of words and phrases, and the way he looks right into me when he wants something is uncanny. I think it's because it's just the two of us that we can "read" each other..


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