Monday, November 3, 2008

A natural predator...........

I was making my daily visit to the blog of Northview Diary today and commented on the cleverness of their adorable cat. I also made the comment that we no longer have a house cat, as our last one, Sam, went out about 6 weeks ago and has not returned. I mentioned how it was likely that a Fisher cat had made a tasty meal out of our cat and a fellow commenter asked what a fisher was. Let me introduce you..........

"Sammy cat "

Losing housecats is not uncommon in our area. We have lost five house cats in 11 years as well as barn cats. Our neighbors have lost cats, chickens, ducks, etc. For the longest time I couldn't figure out why our cats weren't coming home and then I talked with a local trapper.

This nasty looking predator roams our woods and house cat is one of his favorite meals - meet the Fisher Cat. He actually is not a cat at all but a snarly member of the Martin family. They are dark brown to black and sometimes the hair tip has a frosted look. The male has a body about 30 inches long with an approximately 17 inch tail. They have big, lethal teeth. They have five toes, with a foot that measures about 4.5” across at maturity. They have thick fur on the soles of their feet in winter and they are great climbers. They can partially retract their nails which are lethal when tearing apart their prey. They are they only animal that can successfully attack and kill a porcupine.

They make a screaming sound that will send chills right down your spine. I've never seen one in the wild but we did see one at the Gray Animal Park which is a wildlife preserve where they rehabilitate injured animals. This creature was behind two barriers and it was still hissing and spitting at us. Nasty is the only way I could describe it!!

They are nocturnal but they are active both day and night. They have a definite territory and come back through the same place about every two weeks. Fishers have a varied menu and eat snowshoe hare, porcupines, squirrels and chipmunks as well as cats and poultry. Rarely do they eat fish unless it is dead and they happen to find it. They will eat berries and fruit when they can get it.

We have decided that we will not get another housecat. It's too painful to love them and then lose them. We have several barn cats. They serve a purpose, do a great job with rodent control and when one doesn't show up at the feed bowl it's considered normal.


Anonymous said...

I'm not the one who commented at Northview, but I read it and was interested. Thanks so much for this post. They do look nasty, but as far as I know, we don't have them here in NY, at least where we are. Small critters in these parts are more apt to be lost to coyotes or wild dogs.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I've only seen them called fishers; not fisher cats. Interesting post; I learned a lot more about them! Aren't both fishers and martins larger members of the weasel family?

threecollie said...

So sad to read about your cat. What a shame! Thanks for answering anon here!

Deb said...

your welcome:) We see the coyotes and coydogs as well. They are losing their territory and they are coming ever closer to homes and farms. I've lost a lamb or two over the years. Our dogs do a good job of keeping them away.

yes - fisher cats, martins, wolverines, skunks, etc., are all members of the Mustelid(weasel) family.

thanks and your welcome :)

kristi said...

What an interesting post, I have never heard of them and would probably freak if I saw one. It would be so heartbreaking to loose a cat to one of them or just not knowing what happened in general is hard enough. I have been very fortunate here with any predators, gosh knows I invested a lot of money in the fencing I have for the sheep and goats. Hope your day is another beautiful one!!

DayPhoto said...

Oh how horrible! We don't have those type of things here. I am so sorry about your kitty! I am very, very sorry.


Anonymous said...

It is sad to loose a pet. Living out like we do here, it is common for our animals to go missing too.
I don't think we have the fisher cats here though. Lots of coyote, foxes, bobcats, etc.

I have an award for you at my site.
Have a great day.

DayPhoto said...

I just wanted you to know that I have a blog award for you on my site.


Far Side of Fifty said...

We have Fishers in Minnesota.. Fishers are mean..but they do keep the Porky pines in check..nothing worse than those quills in a dogs nose..I could do without skunks too.
I am sorry to hear about your cat Sam, It is hard to lose a family pet:(

Lynda said...

I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of your cat. It is so easy to love them, yet so difficult to lose them. I had never heard of a Fisher Cat, we don't get them here in Africa but they look really mean & scary. Thanks for an interesting post.

Rolf said...

I saw my first Fisher Cat this week, he was big and beautiful fur. I like him, he helps protect my garden. He eats all animals that eat my garden. my rabbit population is down and my broccoli. Great blog but too hard to read with that color background.
From the Berkshires in western, Mass.