One of the best features of our house is the large screened porch. It overlooks the back yard, and the woods, and has a very private feel. In the summer months, it is the perfect place to relax with a book, or visit with company. Another nice aspect of the porch is the cat door, which allows our little coyote bait free access to come and go as he pleases. We keep his food and water out there, and there are numerous comfortable chairs that he cycles amongst for naps. I had initially been very concerned about this whole cat door business. What if raccoons, or even worse, skunks started using the cat door, attracted by the dry food? I mean... the stuff is irresistible! But we have been fortunate so far to have no furry intruders. At least none that left a stench behind.
As far as uninvited guests go, our only regulars are the slugs. At night, they often let themselves into the porch, feast on cat food, and let themselves back out. No big deal, for the most part, although it's taken some acclimation. The reflexive response to seeing these giant slimy creatures in your house tends to be one of disgust. We escorted a few back outside, but that tends to be more trouble than it's worth. They are very slimy after all; one has to be careful handling them. And sooner or later, as long as we keep feeding the cat out there, they'll be back. So I am coming to terms with sharing my beloved porch with the slugs, especially since they only come at night. The days are for us; I am willing to compromise on the nights.
I see lots of slugs around after all, especially when gardening. But these slugs that come on my porch are different. Bigger. As in six inches long. Yeah, that's a big slug. Except on our trip to northern California, where banana slugs reign, I've seen nothing like this before. I started wondering if it could be the cat food diet, since I'd always thought slugs ate plants. So I decided to investigate the matter. It turns out these slugs are a different species from the common garden variety, and have a fitting scientific name, Limax maximus. The giant garden slugs (or leopard slugs) are omnivorous, hermaphroditic, live up to three years, and have remarkably unique mating habits. So there you go! Now I will tolerate them in good cheer, with the hopes of one day seeing this. Because that would just be way cool.