At times, some have implied that my elevator doesn’t reach the top floor. Or that perhaps my driveway doesn’t go all the way to the street. But they would be mistaken. The last time I checked my driveway does indeed connect to the road. Although admittedly there may be some cracks that need mended.
“So why does he have a large ball of cat fur?” you may be asking yourself. Is he making cat hair beer koozies or little doilies for the side tables? Maybe throw pillows or fingerless gloves? Or tiny toupees for those odd Sphynx cats?
As wonderful as those projects sound, the truth isn’t nearly as exciting. Or is it? A while back my wife, Connie-Marie, read an article on the inter-tubes claiming that birds could use cat fur to build their nests. This revelation kicked me square in the feels. Lord and Lady Cardinal presiding over their sweet baby chickies chirping away in a cozy castle created from soft downy cat fur? Are you picturing the cutest thing ever right now? I had to make it happen, and at that very moment, the means to do it were lounging all over the house. That is, when they weren’t scratching our best upholstery to pieces.
I commenced to harvesting fur during the cats’ nightly brushings. Ellie contributed lots of luxurious black fur speckled with diamonds of white dander. Mocha donated a unique cinnamon-colored pelage complete with egg-shell highlights. And Maisie kicked in an unusual mix of warm gray and hazelnut fur with hints of bright saffron. Certainly a stylish color mixture for the demanding, design-conscious bird family of today. “Oh yes,” I said to the nearest tree, “I’m talking to you, Mr. and Mrs. Bluejay!”
Every night, more fur was added to “the bag” which, to be sure, was neatly tucked away for fear of visitors seeing it. Visions of happy nuthatches and goldfinches danced playfully in my head as I packed each downy handful into the sack. I must admit a moment came when I suddenly doubted my quest. Was it possible Connie-Marie was playing an elaborate practical joke on me? I mean, she read it on the internet so it simply had to be true, right? A logical-thinking niece with a PhD in science wondered if snuggling up to cat fur might acclimate the baby birds to the smell of a predator, something I had wondered myself. I decided to research further. Fortunately, a National Wildlife Federation article, How to Offer Bird-Nesting Materials in Your Garden, said it was perfectly fine!
The Harvesting Continues and the Dream is Tested
Having received validation from the NWF, I continued to harvest fur and soon had enough to build another cat. I stuffed it all into a mesh onion bag and gleefully ran out to the yard to hang it from the crab apple tree. Now was the time to kick back and watch the fireworks. Let the flocking feathers fly!
Um… come and get it birdies! Free kitty fur!
Day one: nothing.
Day two: nothing.
Day three: heavy rain.
Day four: bird interest? I thought I saw something. Did you see something?
Day five: drenching rain.
Day six: leaden ball of cat fur hanging in onion bag on crab apple tree. Birds having big fat laugh at my expense. Seriously, what the f… ungrateful little bastards.
Day seven: cat fur removed from onion bag and placed on porch railing to dry.
As the Old Song Goes, “Don’t Put Your Fur in an Onion Bag, ‘Cause the Rain’ll Make You Cry”
What the hell went wrong? This was premium, grade-A cat fur, not run-of-the-mill dog hair from a mangy mutt. If I were a bird, I would have taken the whole damn ball and made a plush penthouse at the top of the tallest tree. From there I would cackle at all the other birds in their pathetic straw and twig nests. Trust me, I would give a whole new meaning to the description, “mockingbird.” I decided to forget the whole thing. Their loss, I figured.
The damp mass of cat fur sat on the porch railing for several days. One morning as I was about to go out the door to walk to the studio, I noticed a commotion on the porch. Chickadees were fluttering about outside like they were having their very own music festival. They chirped and frolicked, flying hither and tither, putting their feathers in the air and waving them like they didn’t care.
Upon closer inspection, I saw they were yanking chunks of fur from the dried out ball and flying off to build their nests. Huzzah! It occurred to me that maybe the onion bag was the problem all along. Perhaps the holes were too small and they weren’t able to pull the fur out. Whatever the reason, this fur was now a hot commodity. So who’s laughing now?
Ha ha ha ha! Ha ha!
Over the next week the birds made off with most of the loot. My mission was complete. And while I did feel a small sense of accomplishment, it was certainly nothing to tweet about. Badum-tish!
P.S. If you’d really like to treat the birds right, worldbirds.org is a fantastic resource to learn about backyard birding, the symbolism of birds, what owl hoots mean and much more. And according to them, pet hair attracts orioles!