Tales from the Grumpy Gardener: Chapter One -“Max the Killer Cat”

Chapter One -“Max the Killer Cat”


 “In gardens, beauty is a by-product.  The main business is sex and death.”

Sam Llewelyn

Grumpy’s garden is inhabited by a lethal killer of the feline variety. Otherwise known as “Max the Cat”, our neighbor’s pet frequents the gardens at Grumpy Villa on a daily basis.

His quest is quite simple; that of seeking out with veracity every mouth-watering morsel of furry/feathery prey he can put his fangs into. Many a carcass has been put to rest by yours truly, the undertaker of the Villa’s back forty.

RIP –Chip and Dale.

On cold and snowy days Max meanders over to reconnoiter our many bird feeding stations, slinking around our tiny pond like the “lion in the winter”. He goes by the mantra, “A bird in the mouth is better than two in the bush” and he has the notches on his whiskers to prove it.

When my daughter babysat Max’s family’s two children after school, Old Max would wander over to Grumpy Villa and scratch at our screen door as if checking on his own litter. You see Max acts more like a dog than a cat, and as an experienced “doggy-agitator” he has no match.

Old Max lays on the grass exactly one metre from the end point of a tethered “Pumba the Farting Dog”; totally antagonizing the little guy into a barking and yelping frenzy. The poor dog charges to the end of the line which results in a dead stop 360 spin when he reaches his limit. Meanwhile, Max rolls over on his back and purrs loudly in self-confident splendor. Grumpy is sure that the cunning cat waits patiently to see the dog’s head pop off and catapult across the lawn.

But admittedly, Max is fearless, having taken on most of the dogs in the neighborhood in one-on-one battles of scratch and swipe MMA Armageddon. Many a pooch has been observed yelping loudly as they high-tail it from Max’s lair. Grumpy believes that this petulant pussy is a kitten on steroids.

You see, Old Grumpy built his garden paradise to attract wildlife and that it surely did, including that of the predator variety – MAX THE FREAKING CAT! Among the beautiful and pristine flowers and foliage there is a life and death battle of survival going down. When you create a garden, you are creating a jungle, my friends.

Why is Grumpy describing this situation in such detail? Did you think this BLOG would be just about flora and fauna and Bambi and all things Disney and the Outdoor Channel?

Well, today Grumpy spied his first baby bunny foraging on sweet clover in the backyard, putting Old Grumps on RED ALERT or CAT WATCH, as it were. As Chief Park Ranger, Grumpy must now be proactive, protecting the poor buggers he’s deliberately attracted into Max’s house of horror.

You see, that darn cat views the garden at Grumpy Villa as a source of culinary delight. When it comes to rodents and feathered delicacies, Max surely is a “Foodie”.

Now, when Grumpy spies that furious feline strolling through his gardens, he’s forced to scream and pound on the windows until Max slinks away into the cedar hedge. Sometimes he encourages Pumba to jump at the patio windows and bark like a maniac. Max, to be sure, realizes that a shattered window is another effective method for decapitating a dog, so he sits and watches amusingly with that Garfield-like smirky smirk. Ultimately, this causes a spider web of veins to pop out Ranger Grump’s forehead.

No wonder, “%$#$& cat!” is Grumpy’s frequent lament.

Imagine how Grumpy feels when he finds a lounging Max prone on a padded chair in the screened-in room? That cat licks his lips in defiance, goading old Grumps to run outside to shoo him away. No matter, by the time he scrambles out the door to institute the “shooing”, Max is out-of-sight and long-gone.

Grumpy is certain that he has heard Max burp as if adding an exclamation point to the fact that one more of his furry/feathery friends has bit the dust. He wishes he had a dollar for every time he’s had to grab the spade and initiate an internment.

Or, worst of all, Grumpy might find a trail of feathers or fur strew across the yard that surely declares – MAX WUZ HERE! Certainly, Grumpy feels as if his garden paradise has become a “Field of Screams” because of that damn cat.

And guess what? Max is not the only predator stalking Grumpy Villa.

In the wintertime a Copper’s Hawk snatches finches and sparrows from the bird feeders – easy pickings when Grumpy baits the trap by attracting hoards of birds to his yard. Another time, while talking to a neighbor, a Red Tailed Hawk tumbled into the boughs of a pine tree a mere three feet away with a bird tightly clutched in his talons.

Grumpy wouldn’t mind a predator skilled enough to take out that possum that comes to drink at his pond in the dead of night. And, never mind the vultures that circle Grumpy Villa on a daily basis waiting for Max to complete his murderous acts.

Leftovers anyone?

“How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.”  ~Benjamin Disraeli

In closing, Grumpy has a word of advice for those of you who wish to convert your yard into a garden paradise and/or a “built it and they will come” game reserve – TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD! Because for every cute little chipmunk, furry bunny or pretty songbird you invite to your yard, there surely will be a “MAX THE KILLER CAT” type predator ready to regularly test Darwin’s “Survival of the Fittest” postulations.

If you garden extensively be forewarned, “It’s a jungle out there!”

Or, as Rodney Dangerfield said as the character Thorton Mellon in the 1986 movie “Back to School” –  “I have only one thing to say to you today … It’s a jungle out there. You gotta look out for number one. But don’t step in number two.”

Hi Ho!


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