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.
Fleas? Read this: How to Use Diatomaceous Earth Safely in the Home, Garden, and More
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.
Read more: Channel Your Mama-Energy for Healthy Homestead Animals
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.
I’ve already downloaded and printed the report, How Much Land Do You Need… and would have signed up for the Master Gardener series, but it is in video format! With my poor memory (age 75.75) and full expectation of electric grid failure at any moment, I’d be much more comfortable with written materials even if I have to download and print it/them myself. As of now, the power is still on! Anything else written and illustrated that I can download and print? DVD’s will be useless when the grid is down.
I’m very motivated to buy a home with land in the small town to which an all-wise Heavenly Father sent me more than two years ago. I can’t very well move from here anyway, as I have a horse nearby in a stable that I can just afford. It wouldn’t help much economically, if any, if I took the horse to my own property; but it would be nice to have that option against sudden necessity. This is peach-growing country: good, black, easily drained soil, and I have an unlimited supply of horse manure available to me. Unfortunately, I do not own the stable property, nor is any contiguous property with acreage for sale. Worse, my significant other is neither a prepper nor committed to me; and homesteading is hard work. Because of that circumstance I see my best option is to grow fruit trees and livestock. I have sheep in mind, with a guard donkey and a double-barreled shotgun for protection of them and me. There is a deer processing plant nearby; but of course I need to learn kosher slaughter and butchering myself.
Thanks for all you do!
BTW, cats never lose their instinct to hunt, but I think they would be more motivated if they are hungry. And they hunt at night. Wouldn’t that protect them somewhat from owls, hawks and coyotes?
new to this lifestyle, first realizing possibility of actually using an unimproved lot 18 months ago…fighting cancer, seeming to do ok and able to live a few more years after escaping to realm of retired status….so much that has been forbidden in my past is now open for full disclosure..loving it, thanks Marjory for helping many of us catch up and for fellow “senior” for sharing welcomed “two cents” Terry
Hi Terry, don’t know what your cancer type is, but do go look at www dot doctoryourself dot com website, It is an amazing resource. For a start, if you can get Vit C powder (ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate etc) which is cheaper that pills,you can start taking it in thereapeutic doses to support your healing. I wish there was a Vit C tree one could grow! If you happen to start growing swiss chard and sweet peppers (the green ones) you can juice em up and drink everyday. Gerson dot org has juice healing for cancer with juice recipes. Congrats on your courage with your new lifestyle. I’m a seniour too, it’s gratifying to hear about those like you and Marjory and know one needn’t stop acting on dreams because we are older.
A little off subject here but what do you think about growing plants in saw dust+ rock dust? I have heard elsewhere that this is an excellent medium for growing fruits and veggies.
That sounds like it might work, especially with a bit of composting to make the minerals more available.
Hi Marjory, We have 2 inside/outside cats. One of which is VERY affectionate. The other is coming around. Both are extremely good mousers. We get left “gifts” all the time on the front porch, heads, guts, etc. Actually from lots of little critters, not just mice. Give Valorie time & yes, a little less food & I’m sure that she’ll come around. They would much rather “go” outside than use the litter box, also. So during the summer months I don’t have to clean it…at all! Congratulations to your daughter for not giving up. Enjoy your kitty!!
With my many years of experience with calico cats, they seem to learn to use their camouflage to the best advantage. Your picture is a good example. with her head in the shadows the rest of her body just looks like a rock.
Calicos spread world wide on ships because they were good hunters. So there is hope. Having large rocks as mulch in my strawberry bed, gives my cat a place to guard the berries from birds.
Purina is a lousy choice of cat food. No commercial cat food will support the health of your cat. You need to feed her real, quality, natural RAW food. Then she won’t have any health issues.
Cats require more protein than dogs. Our dog got very sick and we determined that it was the kibble dog food. He was so sick we did not think he would make it. He is rather alert and moving around for a dog his age. We feed him home cooked dog food every day: Mixed vegetables, scrambled eggs and ground meat with some interesting tid bits here and there Yes, we buy meat just for him. He loves the food, has a warm tummy, is satiated and sleeps all night. He has clear eyes and is happy.
I noticed that the date on this article is from three years ago, so I hope that is when you actually got your kitty, and she is still doing well. After losing a nice calico myself several years ago, I decided that any future cats I took in would have to be strictly indoors. They still catch whatever critters that find their way into the house, and my “gifts” have ranged from a tiny shrew barely an inch long to a full-grown squirrel. Some cats naturally seem to have more street smarts and are better able to protect themselves from predators outdoors. Hopefully yours is one of them.
You mention that you feed your cat Purina??? I find that surprising because you know that GMOs are very dangerous and Purina pet foods are loaded with them. Purchasing Purina food and thus supporting a business that uses GMOs in its pet foods seems to contradict everything that I thought this site was about. I know you wouldn’t plant GMO corn, for instance. Why give your cat something that contains GMOs, then? Why encourage the further use of GMOs through using your money to buy genetically modified pet food? Our pets suffer the same adverse effects from genetically modified ingredients and foods as we do. Purina is not a pet or planet friendly company. Look at their ingredients list. Their foods amounts to toxified garbage. I encourage you find a more biologically appropriate, nonGMO food produced by a company that is committed to keeping both pets and the planet healthy. The Honest Kitchen makes dog and cat foods that are nonGMO. There is a site called “Only Natural Pet” who is committed to selling only nontoxic pet foods (they do not sell Purina). I encourage you to check out that site to find health-promoting food for your pet.
Hearty congratulations on the kitty and I pray she will be with you a long time. There are several comments very anti-Purina Cat Chow but I have a ton of cats (way more than anyone sane would keep) and they all live to be very old and I feed Purina Cat Chow. In fact, I have a cat that is just now crossing over and he’s over 25 years old – I’ve had him 22 of those years so I’m fairly sure of his genuine age. I also have several cats over 20 that I’ve had since rescuing as kittens, and they are all in great health. In my whole time of saving cats, I’ve only lost ONE cat before it reached its 15th birthday and my vet bills are very low so no one will be able to convince me Purina Cat food isn’t a good product – GMO’s or not. Of course I would love to feed some expensive cat food that employs only sustainable practices but my choice is high priced cat food or rescuing another cat so Purina it is and it does a great job so I don’t think I’m letting my cats down at all.
Your kitty (in this picture anyway) looks like a long-haired version of my black and white cat, Amigo. Yours must have orange on her somewhere, I assume. I have two cats, the other is a light orange tabby named Nacho. They are both from shelters, and both are fed REALLY well, but are still great mousers. Amigo eats 90% of the mice he catches, and still is never late for supper! Mine come inside before dusk and are not allowed out until well after dawn, which reduces their exposure to most predators’ favorite times to hunt. They also have many escapes if need be. Amigo was attacked by a great-horned owl once at dusk when he wouldn’t come in. He was VERY lucky to survive. The vet said since he was about 10 pounds, which is about the limit of what the owls can pick up. Also, he is very scrappy! But owls can just kill cats where they attack them, without picking them up and taking them off. Both cats are very wary of predators, but nothing is foolproof, except keeping them inside. They love to be out when the weather is good, though!
I hope you all enjoy your cat! Neither my husband nor I were really “cat people”, until we adopted ours. We adore them! They make really great pets. They are funny, smart, clean, and very well-behaved. They certainly made cat-lovers out of us!
Pretty kitty! I have had good luck with “marmalade” cats. Great mousers, also chipmunks, lizards , birds even a snake or two! Indoor/outdoor cats. Loving pets and good garden companions. Pancake helped me raise my three children and Spike has been our homestead companion.