Playing Possum

This tale started with a stray cat and a man who can’t abide any animal going hungry.

When a ragged old tom looking like a cross between a barn owl and a raccoon appeared on our doorstep, my husband’s answer to the cat’s problems was feed it. Which means the cat stuck around for more. More. And more.

He had been wounded, his skin was torn near the ear. The blood attracted flies. He needed help.

But the animal had trust issues. We couldn’t get close. Getting him to a vet would be impossible.

My husband bought a trap—one of those with a steel spring in the door. Except this model closed like a bridge over a river where ships had to pass. Slow. Steady. Any self-respecting cat would be embarrassed getting caught in that thing.

But we did catch a possum.

She curled up in the corner doing what she did best—playing dead. I looked at my husband. “Where should we take her?”

“Down by the park.” The area was part of a wildlife refuge—near a river and full of underbrush. Perfect for a possum. “And far enough away so her GPS doesn’t work.”

My husband left—possum in the back.

He returned an hour later. “Couldn’t find a good place to turn her loose.”

“How about that area under the bridge?”

He left again. Returned again. “Not suitable.” He looked defeated. “Would you go with me?”

“Is the possum okay?” I climbed in. The possum looked up, her solemn eyes staring as if she were thinking, “Oh no, not again.” I felt sorry for her. “You don’t suppose she’s car sick?”

We tried another remote area. Nothing seemed suitable. We returned home.

“I’ll call Fish and Wildlife. See what they recommend.”

Several minutes later he found me. “It’s against the law to trap and release possums.”

“Seriously? So what do we do?”

“Turn her loose.”

“But she’ll just come back to the trap.”

“After an afternoon of riding in a car, I doubt she’ll return here any time soon.”

So after dark he carried the trap to the far edge of our property and aimed the door at the neighbors. The possum hurried away as if she’d been hit by lightning. We haven’t seen her since.

But we still have a cat to catch.


4 Replies to “Playing Possum”

  1. Edward Arrington says: Reply

    I enjoyed the story. I used to set out a trap like that to try to eliminate the groundhog population that infested the bank at the back of our house. I caught several, as well as a possum, two raccoons, and a skunk. But my “favorite” story about a possum involves one that got under the hood of our Trans Am. I was working in Charlotte, NC, about a three-hour drive from our home. Since it was too far to drive daily, I rented an apartment where I lived during the week and came home on weekends. From time to time, my wife would spend the week with me in Charlotte. On one occasion, she had a doctor appointment on Monday morning and then drove to Charlotte to spend the rest of the week with me. She mentioned at dinner that evening that the service engine soon light had come home a couple of times on the trip to Charlotte. It was nearing dark so I decided to check it out after work the next day. When I raised the hood on the car, I saw a possum on top of the engine beside the air filter. I tried various tactics to get it out to no avail. It simply scooted further into close quarters near the firewall. Finally, I put on a pair of work gloves and took hold of its tail. Of course, it was holding on for dear life and my hands kept slipping off its tail. Finally, I got an extra tight grip on the tail and gave a mighty jerk. The possum remained right where it was trying to hide but I had its tail in my hands. After studying the situation a bit, I made a phone call or two and was directed to animal control. Someone came out, removed the possum, and put it in a cage. I offered him the possum’s tail since I had no use for it. His response: “Where he’s going, I doubt he’ll need it.”

  2. What a great story. It seems that your possum wanted to re-locate itself. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Oh my! Those are both great stories. 🙂

    I was feeding some neighborhood cats who got messy with the food. That was when I discovered a possum liked to come and help clean up. And raccoons. I’ve stopped feeding the cats and haven’t seen the possum since but still see the raccoons for a while.

  4. They all seem to love cat food. I could just see our possum repenting of her need to raid the cat dish. To do that she had to go inside the garage! Brave little critter. Thanks for sharing.

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