Monday, October 20, 2008

The Return of the Guttercats

The guttercat is a tough little animal. The guttercat is the gutsy urban version of the traditional cozy, cuddly library-related cat. They get their name from their traditional habitat: the street gutters and storm drains near the library.

Once, herds of guttercats roamed the streets and nearby parks of this library. A cat lady came every day to feed them on the steps of the empty temple next door. The cats spent most of the day either hiding from the desert sun or lounging on the temple steps. Each afternoon the cat lady fed them. She also trapped them for spaying and released them back into their native habitat. She's a good lady.

About half an hour before her usual arrival time, the number of cats lounging on the temple steps would increase. At one point there were 10 regulars seen every day. The cat lady would arrive and they would wait for her to get out the food and then politely swarm the food when it was ready. For all their feral badness, they were rather orderly about it.

Two nearly simultaneous situations nearly made the guttercat an extinct species. First was the arrival of the guttercat's nemesis: the bobcat. We've been in a ten-year drought and all kinds of critters have been arriving from the hills. They are looking for water and, in true survival fashion, go to the lowest points of the valley in search of water and available food.

A year or two ago, the bobcats reached the interstate tunnel under the library. And its service areas. Pretty good cave-dwellings if you're a bobcat. Dark. Lots of hidey holes. No people. No predators. Water. And available food. Rats first, then guttercats.

Our guards go down there with the transportation department dudes to help them check the structure, etc. They saw the skeletons. They saw the bobcats streak away into the darkness. They heard the tiny mews of the baby bobs.

And one night the bobcats streaked away completely. They were spotted heading north on 3rd street at 9:15 pm. With the constant patrols and looky-lous in the tunnels, their lair was no longer safe from people. It was time to move on. So they did.

The greatest blow to the guttercat in recent history was the rededication and remodeling of the empty temple. The guttercats were caught like illegal immigrants and carted off, possibly to Mexico but probably to the Humane Society. Heaven only knows where they are now.

For months the temple remodel went on and on. Adobe was slapped up. Windows replaced. Roofing done. It is nearly complete.

Tonight I noticed something poking stealthily in the sagebrush nearby. A cat. A black cat. A cat who squeezed under the construction fencing surrounding the temple and made itself at home. Near the steps.

I will be watching. This could be the return of that urban native, the guttercat. Herds of guttercats may once again roam the park and lounge on the temple steps. The cat lady will return. Nature will prevail and the guttercat will once again be fruitful and multiply.

Nature works.

1 comment:

finnime said...

Yeah for the guttercats!