There's a Vamint in my Kitchen! Essay published on ABBAMAIL May 2005

Last night about midnight I was working on writing my radio shows for Merrick, and Sebastian (my cat) was sitting on the couch, when she meowed at me. This may not seem unusual, but Sebastian is a cat of very few words. I didn't think much of it, really, but when I got up a few minutes later, on my way to go to bed, there was a blur of fur on four feet running down the hall. I turned the light on, the hairs on the back of my neck were at full alert.

I carefully turned the light on in the eBay room, and, armed with a towel and the long part of the vacuum bar, I stepped into the room.

It didn't take me long to find the bundle of fur in question, which was crouched in the corner staring at me and breathing very heavily. I don't know who was more scared, me or him.

At first I thought it was a possum, but it was grey and very hairy, with big round black ears like a rat, so I wasn't sure. He had very round black eyes and was staring at me. I got a bucket, and tried to get him out of the corner (between two boxes) by poking him from behind. It wasn't working. He only hissed at the vacuum tube.

Suddenly he made a run for it, and ran back down the hall. I lunged with the bucket but missed him. Then he ran through the living room and into the dining room (aka the shipping room) and I thought, great, I'll never find him in here (with all the boxes on the floor).

But a little rustling and he zipped out into the kitchen beside the stove. Ah, I've got you cornered, I thought, and I tried to get the bucket over him again. But he panicked and he squeezed through the very small crack into the space behind/underneath the stove.

I pulled the stove out, but he went right underneath to where he couldn't be reached. So I put a little pile of cat food on the floor near one edge of the stove, and I crouched behind. I was watching him, and it was so sad. He was so scared he was literally shaking. I could see when the scent of the food got to him, as he stopped looking at me and started looking at the food. Then he started drooling, and I could hear him smacking his lips.

But he kept looking back at me, he knew I wasn't to be trusted.

So after a long staring contest, I decided that wasn't going to work.

I pulled the stove out a bit so he could get back into the corner, and I pushed the vacuum bar under the stove, so he squeezed back into the corner. Then I pushed the stove back against the wall so he couldn't get out.

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So I had him trapped and I finally got the bucket over top of him (upside down.) Then I slid the bucket with him inside it onto a sheet of cardboard, and I taped the bucket to the cardboard with packing tape.

By this time it was 2 am. And what the heck was I going to do.

I called merrick, the only person I know who is up at 2am. He thought that I should call the police and ask them what to do. So I hung up and called the police (non emergency department), and when an officer answered, I asked, "Can I have the department of stupid questions, please."

I explained the story to the officer and he told me to call Animal Regulation. So I called them, and not only were they open, but they said they they would send someone over to pick up the varmint.

I put a heavy box on top of the upside down and taped to the ground bucket with the furry critter inside, and tried to calm down. I could hear the little guy scratching to get out, I felt sorry for him. Imagine.

Sebastian of course, my brave guard cat, was still curled up asleep on the couch, so I lay down beside her, because I didn't know how long it would take for my rescuer to arrive. About 3:30 am, the guy from the Animal Control arrived, with a huge wand with a rope on the end, and a rather large wire cage.

He carried the upside down bucket taped to the sheet of cardboard with the critter inside it out to the patio. He said, in case he escapes, at least he won't be running through your house. Good point.

Then he opened his cage, and he put the cardboard and bucket on top of the cage opening, and quickly slid the cardboard out, causing the furry little guy (when I say little, he's almost as big as my cat), causing the little furry guy to fall into the cage. Then he removed the cardboard and quickly slammed the cage door shut.

Then he said, "Oh, that's not a rat! That's a possum! That's much better."

He said that possums are much more docile, and travel alone. He said, if you find a rat somewhere, there's five or ten more around, and you need to get exterminators in immediately. But a possum will be alone, and he said possums love cat food (which I had earlier ascertained.)

So he said that he would take the possum down to the reservoir and set him free; he said that possums are ok and are 'good', and that this one was young and just hadn't learned yet not to go into people's houses.

I'm amazed that the possum could smell my cat's food. For he had to be outside and go up the stairs on the back, through the cat door flap, through the laundry room, across the kitchen to get to the cat food that is on the floor. How on earth could he find that? I'm amazed.

And, a little frightened.

So that was my little mid-night adventure last night. I think I got to sleep around 4am (well past my bedtime.) When I came home tonight, I very made sure to make a lot of noise coming in, and walking down the hall to the bathroom.

But no more furry visitors, not tonight at least.

Rod Reynolds
© 2005 The Art Dept Los Angeles

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