Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Of Mice, Lizards and Cats

In my almost 20 year experience with cats, I've come to know that many of them make pretty good little hunters.  All of our cats are strictly indoors, but that doesn't mean they don't surprise me with gifts from time to time.  

When we moved to Florida some seven years ago, I knew the cats would be intrigued by the population of small lizards that inhabited the garden of our condo.  Known to us as chameleons, they are actually anoles, a small harmless species of lizard that thrives in Florida.  Anyone who has ever vacationed here is familiar with the little squiggly things, and I'm sure they have been the subject of many a tourist's photos.  These tiny lizards have also been on the menu of assorted household pets, though I can't imagine they would taste very good.  Then again, I'm no dog or cat, so what do I know?

Our condo had a screened-in porch, called a "lanai" in Florida, onto which the cats would descend and lounge around, sniff the air, and swat at the local wildlife (which included neighbors and their children).  One particular morning, Tika came in from the lanai with an odd look on her face.  Closer inspection revealed a mouthful of lizard, with a wriggly tail poking out of the corner of her gently closed mouth.  I had to coax her to drop the poor little thing, and when she finally did, it scooted away from her and under our sofa, where it was never seen or heard from again.  I praised her for being such a good little hunter, and she meowed happily (or I guess she could have been frustrated for having lost her catch!)

Pixel, I believe if given the chance, would either a) be a stellar hunter, or b) run away from a mouse, freaked out and scared to death.  He is afraid of his own shadow, but will stalk and hunt anything that moves (so long as it doesn't make a peep!).  Since he was a kitten his favorite toy has been toy mice, which he will carry by the tail, drop at your feet and almost beg you to throw.  The more the mouse rattles, the better.  

Not many would believe that a cat will play fetch, let alone that he taught himself how to play this game of "cat and mouse."  He is also learning to hit the mouse when it is thrown at him, like a tiny, furry baseball player at the bat.  If no one is willing or available to play fetch with him, he takes matters into his own paws, taking the mouse and tossing it in the air, and chasing it.  Each time I see him play like this, I shake my head in wonder, knowing that most people either don't give cats enough credit for being smart, or he has a screw loose in that noggin of his.  The jury is still out on that decision.  I tend to think it may be both.