Cats and Rats and Squirrels, Oh My!

by guest blogger Shannon Taylor Vannater

Note: Shannon will be drawing names on November 21st, from those who leave a comment, and the winner will receive a free copy of her new book!

I live in very rural Arkansas with woods on three sides of us. Over the years, we’ve had indoor weenie dogs and now an outdoor chocolate lab, two cats, and a horse. Once upon a time, my son had a tiny nursery. He quickly outgrew it, so we moved him into a bigger bedroom and I got the tiny nursery as my office. 10’ by 10’ all mine. 100 square feet closed off from the rest of the house with a working door.

I painted my office my favorite thistle shade—a retired Crayola color—a mix of pink and lavender. I put up seashell wallpaper border, made curtains and cushion covers for my white wicker furniture using pastel seashell fabric, and displayed all the seashells I’ve collected over the years. It was perfect.

Until I decided that since it was my office, my two outdoor charcoal gray cats should be able to come in. It was my 100 square feet and I could share it if I wanted to. Right? Hubby even agreed and installed a cat door. Since they’d always been outdoor cats, they were used to going outside to do their business. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing did for a while. They understood that the vast outdoors was their bathroom. They spent their days with me while I wrote, then prowled or slept at night.

Smokey—my scaredy cat female—was no problem. She huddled thankfully under the wicker couch and I never saw her go out. But everything smelled okay, so I knew she did. Charcoal, my curious, neutered tom, prowled all night, came inside in the morning, ate and slept the day away.

Everything went smoothly. Until one morning after everyone left and I heard something in my office. I opened the door and something flew by my head about eye level. I searched the shelves and saw a flying squirrel. I didn’t even know we had those in Arkansas. Charcoal was in stalk mode and the poor squirrel flew all over my office. I learned they not only live in Arkansas, but they’re very fast.

I stuffed Charcoal out the cat door and locked it, found thick gloves, and pursued the squirrel. They’re really fast. That squirrel perched on all eight shelves and every time I’d reach for him, he’d fly in my face and land on another shelf, my desk, the wicker, or the curtains.

After about forty-five minutes or so, I wore him down. He started running instead of flying and I learned that flying squirrels run even faster than they fly. He finally ran in the end of a 3 ring binder notebook. I clamped a gloved hand on each end, but I couldn’t open to the door with no hands.

So, I quickly stood the notebook on the floor closing off one hole, then shook the poor squirrel up. He came running up right into my hand and I had him. He bit my thick glove and squealed all the way out the back door—where the cat wasn’t—and to the woods behind our house.

Charcoal treated me to three more flying squirrel capers and I learned there are at least four where I live, they are all very fast, but you can catch them with thick gloves once you tire them out. I guess my great gray hunter got bored with squirrels, so he brought me a rat instead. I didn’t know we had rats that big in Arkansas. I propped the cat door open, screamed and hopped around on the wicker furniture, and poked at the beast with a yard stick until it scurried out the door.

That was it. The cat door got sealed off. Charcoal and Smokey got their gray butts kicked out. Even though poor Smokey was innocent, she now huddles under the house and Charcoal lives in the shed.

So now, he leaves his dead offerings on my porch—mostly rats, mice, and moles. There used to be the occasional rabbit, but no more squirrels. He’s eight now, so maybe he’s not quite that fast anymore. When I find his prize, I praise him and say, “You’re the tomcat.”

And during the day, when nobody’s home, I make sure Charcoal doesn’t have any guests and let them inside. Smokey huddles under the wicker couch and Charcoal sprawls on my bookshelf. Shhh!!!

Here is an Amazon link, so you can buy Shannon’s new book!  Rodeo Queen (Heartsong Presents)

Shannon Taylor Vannatter
Heartsong Presents


Until she starts receiving threatening letters from a stalker. The good news is, the Texas Ranger assigned to her case is none other than her former sweetheart Mitch Warren—the man who chose his career over love.

Mitch vows to focus on protecting the woman he’s never forgotten. But Caitlyn stirs up memories best left in the past. When Mitch insists on hiding Caitlyn away on his family’s San Antonio ranch, will he keep things professional or seek out a second chance?

About the author:
Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She lives in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows. Vannatter won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category, The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards 3rd Favorite New Author and #1 Contemporary Award. Her books are available at,,,, and Learn more about Shannon and her books at and check out her real life romance blog at Connect with her on Facebook:, Pinterest:, and Twitter: @stvauthor

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20 Responses to Cats and Rats and Squirrels, Oh My!

  1. Roxanne says:

    Thank you so much for being a guest on the blog, Shannon!! Loved your post!

  2. Hey Roxanne,
    I’m glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

  3. angela chesnut says:


  4. Susan Johnson says:

    I love the cat, squirrel, rat story. My cat brought in a hummingbird once. They are also very fast. They yell really loud when you catch them.
    I would love to win a copy of your book.

  5. Hey Angela,
    Thanks for stopping in.

  6. Michelle says:

    This looks so good!!

  7. Cyndi Wilson says:

    Hysterical story! 😀

  8. Barbara Thompson says:

    I’m looking forward to reading your book. Would love to win. Book sounds great. Thank you for the chance to enter this giveaway and please enter my name.

  9. Barbara, Thanks for following me around the net.

  10. Maxie Anderson says:

    Shannon, i am still laughing. You had me in stitches. I had a movie in my head
    the whole time I was reading this. And, i’m sure I will see you again with the flying squirrels and rat every time I think of this again and have some more laughs. Your husband must know you are sneaking them in when you are alone, because they shed so much. I would still love to win this book of yours.
    Thanks for the give-away and the entertainment. 🙂 God bless you and keep you safe from all of those pests. And, I would have to have very, very thick gloves before picking them up. And, by the way, why didn’t you catch that rat. HA! HA! HA! Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  11. Maxie Anderson says:

    By the way, bet the Pastor found a way to work in telling of this little escapade of yours. They have a way of doing that to their poor wives. Maxie

    • Maxie,
      Glad you enjoyed the story. They were very thick gloves, but they were not thick enough to go anywhere near that rat. I try to dust and vacuum a lot where the cats hang out. I’m not really sure if he knows and doesn’t say anything as long as they’re outside by the time he gets home or if he’s clueless. Oh yes, he loves to tell stories on my from the pulpit.

  12. ELIZA ELLIOT says:

    Looks like a great book -thanks for the interesting post and the chance to win!

  13. Beth C says:

    Loved the story about the cats, rats, squirrel!
    Thanks for the chance to win Rodeo Queen. Looks good!

  14. I have a winner! Eliza Elliot won the drawing for the copy of Rodeo Queen. I appreciate Roxanne for hosting me and everyone else for stopping by.