Hiding in Plain Sight
House cats often don’t do well in rural environments. White cats are in the most peril as they are highly visible – and delicious – to owls. Solid black cats, or gray-black tabbies tend to do much better – their natural camouflage gives them an edge.
My young daughter really, really wanted a cat. My son and I were ambivalent. And my husband was adamant that no, we didn’t need a cat.
Two years of pleading from my daughter wore him down.
Before he changed his mind – we quickly went to the animal shelter and my daughter picked out the only tame cat they had; a half grown calico. We named her Valorie.
Our New Addition
She was soooo cute at the shelter; her coat is delightful – appealing to the human eye, and soft and cuddly to the touch. I knew that her attractiveness to humans would mean she was probably a lousy mouser – and that turned out to be true.
Her colors are lucky, and she is clearly more geared towards eating Purina from a bowl than worrying about catching her own meals. It may not be exactly “camouflage,” but it more than protects her – it grants her prima donna status in the world.
We took Valorie home. My husband and I repressed our concerns about the long-term viability of this cat in our rural setting. We just encouraged Valorie to stay indoors.
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Surprising Natural Camouflage
But surprisingly, it turned out that her colors are also a camouflage in the truest sense of the word.
Yes, she is highly visible in almost every lighting condition, which seems very dangerous. But look again and you’ll realize that it is very hard to determine which end is the head and which is the tail.
Predators cannot afford to make mistakes that might get them injured. They depend on the health and function of their bodies for their lives, and they wouldn’t risk attacking… what is that animal anyway? … it smells like cat, but which end has the teeth and claws?
Valorie is an example of perfect camouflage. Her colors work very well in two entirely different realms; she is adorable to the people who feed her, and she is confusing to those who would eat her.
As your garden gets bigger and you begin to work with more small livestock, you’ll learn a lot more about predators… and camouflage.
Marjory Wildcraft is an Expedition Leader and Bioneer Blogger with The [Grow] Network, which is an online community that recognizes the wisdom of “homegrown food on every table.” Marjory has been featured as an expert on sustainable living by National Geographic, she is a speaker at Mother Earth News fairs, and is a returning guest on Coast to Coast AM. She is an author of several books, but is best known for her “Grow Your Own Groceries” video series, which is used by more than 300,000 homesteaders, survivalists, universities, and missionary organizations around the world.