I found holes and scratch marks in one of our square foot gardens this morning. Three ‘Quadrato D’Asti Giallo’ heirloom peppers and a plant lay on top of the soil—the pepper plant’s tender white roots dried into toothpicks for Barbies.
I walked around the yard and out to the compost pile, looking side to side for the culprit. On my way back, I spotted him sprawled on a patio chair. I shooed him inside, scolding as he rubbed against my leg before plopping himself on the kitchen floor. “Another poor kitty choice, Thai. For your consequence you’ll be staying inside.”
Thai walked to the back door and began meowing non-stop, delivering my consequence. I carried him to the laundry room, set him on the floor and put one of his paws on the litter box. “Relieve yourself in gravel, Thai, not vegetables.”
“Are you talking to me?” RJ asked.
“No, unless you’re urinating outside to keep the deer away.”
“I’m not, unless I’m sleepwalking and urinating outside at night.”
I rubbed the back of my neck and sighed. “I was talking to Thai. He’s not allowed outside. He’s using the square foot gardens for a litter box again.”
“How do you know it was Thai? The destruction could be from anything—dog, possum, squirrel, arma…”
“Don’t say it,” I said. “A dog would’ve made bigger holes and destroyed more than one plant. The A word mammal would’ve dug five thousand holes. Besides, the scratch marks are consistent with a cat’s claws.”
“Armadillos,” RJ said loudly, “and possums, squirrels and little dogs have claws. Did you find fecal evidence?”
“Fecal evidence? You’re talking like me. I don’t toil in the soil for poop. Remember last summer—when he picked the shade garden for his outdoor litter box?”
RJ patted Thai’s head. “That was smart of you, Buddy, picking the shadiest spot, but you have to stay inside awhile.”
That afternoon I filled in holes and tamped down soil around the remaining pepper plants. When I felt large, cool drops hit my head and arms, I glanced up and noted two threats—thunderheads and a chipmunk that dove down a hole in the front garden.
I’d just finished drying the hem of my jeans with the hair dryer when a movement out the bay window caught my eye.
“Squirrel!” I shouted.
Thai jumped on the window seat, tail twitching. We studied the fresh holes next to the squirrel in the tomato square foot garden. Thai looked at me and said, “Me-now?“
“Whoops,” I whispered.
When RJ came in from his afternoon show, I greeted him with a faux-humble smile; the kind that lands on my face when I’m trying to be sorry for being wrong. “I’ve got fantastic news,” I said.
“What?” RJ said.
“Thai’s back outside.”