When cat food drives raccoons — and cowboys — crazy

Our boys enjoyed a series of books for awhile that had titles like Who Would Win? Tarantula vs. Scorpion or Who Would Win? Komodo Dragon vs. King Cobra?

They had a lot of animal education, some drama and a showdown, which was a fitting read for the Taylor boys.

We’re working on what might be next in the series, “Who Would Win? Rancher vs. Raccoon.” I’m not sure if anyone will buy it because they know how it’ll end. It’s not a fair fight.

I’ve been in that battle for a long time, but it’s gone to a new level as I try to feed a little cat food to a growing herd of cats we have on mouse patrol around the ranch yard a mile from the house.

We prefer to keep the cat herd away from our front porch, so I feed them in the shop.

It started simply enough by filling a couple of empty coffee cans with cat food to leave in the shop so I could pour out a daily kitty ration in the cat trough. It wasn’t long before I’d find the lids pried off the coffee cans and the cat food polished off. The suspects: ring-tailed raccoon food bandits.

So I put the cat food in a plastic five gallon pail with a lid snapped on tight. I can hardly get the lid pried off those buckets, so I figured it would be safe. Nope. I think they tipped the buckets over, body slammed them and popped the lids.

I once used the shop vacuum to suck up cat food that I found in the air intake of the pickup ahead of the air filter that must have been put there by mice for winter storage.

Sure enough, the next day, the shop vac was tipped over with its top pried off and the cat food picked clean from the dirt.

Cat food must have the addiction potency of crack cocaine to these coons. I tried storing the cat food containers in the cab of my good loader tractor. They never got it, but the bottom of the door was covered with muddy coon prints. They chewed and clawed off about two feet of the weather stripping and got their dirty little paws through the crack trying to reach the latch with their opposable thumbs. It was not a cuss-free morning in the shed when I found the weather stripping chewed off of my good tractor. I don’t put cat food in there anymore.

That’s when I bought one of those live traps for raccoons. I’d have gladly used some leg hold or body traps, but that would have been too tough on the cats or the dog when he roams the shed. I caught one coon the first night and took care of him, but I ended up losing a key piece, the trap tripper. The trap is still out of commission.

I next found a cupboard with a pretty strong latch for storage. They got into that.

Finally, I moved the cat food into an old file cabinet drawer that has a locking button. They sniffed it out, picked the correct drawer and have scratched and tried but so far haven’t reached the food. I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time.

I’m thinking of building some kind of box that I could secure with a combination padlock. I’ll likely have to change the lock regularly as I am sure these coons could crack the code.

And if you were wondering about the victors of the matches in the books, it’s the scorpion, the king cobra, and, apparently, the raccoon.

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