|"OMG! Wake up right meow!!|
So I (very cautiously) opened the door that leads to the fire escape and found, as promised, a huge raccoon.
As you may have guessed from the fact that I have a fire escape, I'm strictly a city type. No lawn, no trees, no hedges, no wildlife. I enjoy nature, that's why I live within walking distance of it.
The raccoon looked right at me, fearless. It was trembling ... with exhaustion? Rabies? Poison? It wrapped one weary paw around the top of the stairs, seeming very disappointed with what it had found. No food or water, just uncomfortable slats. And some ancient linoleum, which will probably stay dusty now that the cat won't be spending any time catching breeze there this summer. Now that I know raccoons can get up there.
Raccoons are fierce fighters. My cat may be huge, but he has no warrior instinct whatsoever. Raccoons are loaded with warrior instinct.
I have heard many tales of woe from co-workers and acquaintances about raccoons mixing it up with their pets, resulting in vet bills and sometimes disfigurement and death.
I had a prior encounter with a raccoon once. I was picnicking with some friends on Angel Island, which is an island in the San Francisco Bay, like Alcatraz, except more nature-y. So I'm sitting there peeling an orange when I suddenly notice everybody is quiet and is giving me odd looks. I glance down at my lap and there, in it, is a raccoon.
It had two little raccoon feet on my thigh, and as I held extremely still, it advanced further, until all four little raccoon feet were resting on my legs.
Since I happened to have an orange in my hand I gave it a slice. It raised one front paw and delicately accepted it, and fortunately it was a nice sweet orange, since the raccoon waited patiently for me to feed it slice after slice instead of mauling me. My friends, meanwhile, had retreated to a safe distance to take photos and/or call the medics to airlift me out should the raccoon decide to eat my face.
But it didn't. It accepted many orange slices and then it wandered off, leaving sticky handprints on my jeans. Animals can usually sense that I'm a big softy that is more interested in watching them than harming them, and they take full advantage.
Even so, there is no way I'm going to approach a raccoon nutty enough to climb all the way up to my fire escape, and I'm not inclined to feed it either. Or touch it. Or get within airborne disease vector distance of it.
I did speak to it soothingly, telling it to chill for as long as it wanted and that I'd call animal control, and they finally caught up with it today, reporting that it had a runny nose and seemed very tired but otherwise looked okay. It's going to be released back in its own raccoon neighborhood. I am happy for it.
And I really hope it doesn't come back.