Posted in Indoor Musings

Of cats and butterflies.

On one news aggregate site I haunt, there was a link yesterday that led me to an older article about the devastatingly low count of Monarchs in California last year.

The aggregate allows for discussion on any given link, and a few folks in the discussion had raised or protected Monarchs in some form, which made me think of my own guardianship last year.

When I posted my own response, I mentioned how my mother-in-law had bought me a few keepers for me to use this year as well as some other Monarch related bits.

With Monarchs on my mind, I came here and reread my entries about our experience as first time Monarch Guardians.  As I was nearing the end, where most of the posts were about releasing them, a cold hard reality hit the pit of my stomach.  I might have a big problem with guardianship this year.

Last year when we were guardians, we had a cat.  She was twenty, and I wrote about her here when she decided to cross the rainbow bridge last year.  She was quite slowed down by the time we had started bringing Monarch eggs inside to raise.  She spent most of her time in the office, where I’m at most when I’m not in the garden during the day, and both my partner and I tend to spend a lot of evenings at our computers.

The reason this is relevant is that last year when the Monarchs had eclosed and were at a point where it wasn’t certain if they wanted outside yet or not, I would take them out of the keeper and put them on a branch I would place on the dining room table.  When they started fluttering around the dining room, I would then move them outside with confidence that their wings were dry.  Kira was gone before any of our Monarchs were even J’d, let alone eclosed.  Even if she had been more energetic, since the only time she would go into the dining room was to cross through to the kitchen or where we kept her litterbox, there was never an opportunity for her to do what some cats do, and want to hunt or play with them.  She was already gone by the time our Monarchs were flitting about in there.

This year, though, is much different.  A few months after Kira passed, we started looking for another kitty.  On November 3rd, we ended up bringing home two year and a half old Spirit Cats.  That process from starting to look to adoption is a story in itself, but the important part is the two we wound up with had bonded at the shelter, and all involved seemed happy they both came home with us.  Unlike Kira, these two boys have run of almost the entire house already.  (Some rooms aren’t young cat ready, plus we cordoned off our tree in December to the library since we could close the French doors so they wouldn’t do what so many cats do with such.  Did I mention that they’re not small either?  One is likely at least a mixed breed Maine Coon, the other at least part Norwegian Forest Cat.  Yeah…not cute little wisps of a kitty like Kira was by far, nope.)

I am still cringing, remembering what I re-read from last year about the possible Ginger versus Junior encounter.  Cats will be cats–and these boys do love to play when they’re not hiding or pretending to be aloof–but using the dining room as the raising grounds for the Monarchs likely won’t be such a good idea this year.

Now it’s not to say they might show no interest in the Monarchs when they are in their cat stages, because I’m thinking given how big Monarch cats can get that will still spur the kittys’ instincts.  Likely less so than once they eclose, but still a risk.

So between the new kitty additions, plus my now having more traditional butterfly enclosures I received as Christmas presents (lighter and easier for the cats to knock off a surface than a glass tank or baking dish), and knowing how we both raised and let the butterflies flit about in the dining room last year as a wing dryness test area…some things are going to be handled very differently this year in our Monarch Guardianship.  Very differently indeed.  I’m going to have to put some serious thought into the how.

For one thing, I might still be building another enclosure from the materials I gathered after all.  Not what I’d planned, but instead a large “pre flight hanger”, as it were.  Fortunately, some of the materials I found should work for such.  Better to have something like that rather than risking the cats suddenly dashing from the purrlor into the dining room when a Monarch first tries out its wings and all hell breaking loose.  Nope, don’t want to be dealing with that, I’ll tell ya.

So, stay tuned, I guess?

Care to share thoughts on this?