DEAR JOAN: Recently I saw a skunk walk across our backyard step, deck and ramp right outside our sliding patio door. I was able to catch photos through the glass and screen doors.

Now, my question is, do we have to be concerned about a skunk who is coming out in broad daylight? Because they are supposed to be nocturnal I have always heard that seeing one in the daytime signals the possibility of a diseased animal. Fact or fiction? Myth or reality?

One more thing. Is this animal a danger or threat to my two indoor-outdoor cats who have free run of the backyard in the daytime?

Because the skunk's escape route ended under the step on the deck I'm wondering if that is where it lives. Trouble? Or should we simply work out an amiable symbiotic living arrangement?

Skunk in the backyard could reek of trouble. Or not. Depends on whether you can get along.
Skunk in the backyard could reek of trouble. Or not. Depends on whether you can get along. (Courtesy of Gloria Crim)

Gloria C.

Crockett

DEAR GLORIA: I have some good news and possibly bad news for you. The good news is that seeing a skunk in the daytime is not a sign that there is something wrong or that the animal is diseased. Unlike vampires, who can't go out in the daytime, nocturnal animals simply prefer to be out at night. They sometimes wander about during the day, which brings us to the possible bad news.

Daytime sightings of skunks occur most often in the spring because they skunks are out hunting for food to give their new babies. So you may not have just one skunk under your deck. You may have a few.


Advertisement

Skunks are not dangerous to your cats. Skunks actually are pretty easy going. They don't like confrontation and they try to avoid it. Cats, on the other hand, are hunters and have more than a cupful of curiosity, so there is a chance your cats may encounter a skunk and we all know who generally comes out on the smelly end of that meeting.

As for the symbiotic living arrangement, the skunk will definitely contribute its share. They love snails and slugs and other garden pests, and they aren't generally harmful to your landscape.

If you don't think you can risk it, then block up entrances beneath the deck, after making sure the skunks aren't at home, and remove food temptations. If you keep kitty food out during the day or night, bring it in, and secure your garbage.

Indoor cats

Last week I asked readers for ideas on helping Karla L. transition her outdoor-minded cat into a happy, well-adjusted indoor kitty. Thanks to everyone for the help. Here are a few of the responses.

Jacquie O., of Pleasanton, and Christine A., of Concord, sent websites with products for giving cats a protected outdoor environment: www.purrfectfence.com, www.drsfostersmith.com, www.1800petmeds.com, www.catbitats.com, www.kaboodle.com and www.cagesbydesign.com.

DEAR JOAN: In response to Karla L., we have a young indoor cat and my husband keeps a bird feeder filled under a deck that has a big sliding door.

Our cat, Georgie, can sit for hours watching the birds eat and then the squirrels come by to do the clean up. A good time is had by all.

Myra F.

Hayward

DEAR JOAN: One of my favorite cat toys is a pingpong ball in the bathtub. My cats loved the noise it made and the way it would go up the sides of the tub when they batted at it. Have your camera ready.

Karen S.

Cyberspace

Joan Morris' column runs five days a week in print and online. Contact her at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.