Life in Technicolor

Callie and I recently watched a TV special on Nova about cats and Callie became so involved in the show that she flinched when the leopard leaped from branch to branch and the cheeta exploded into a sprint after an antelope. Her neck craned and she tried to get a better glimpse of these magnificent animals by leaning forward and gazing with intensity. One time she even glanced behind her to see if the snow leopard had dashed past her. She was seriously unnerved by what she was witnessing and had mixed emotions but was willing to stay open minded about it. There was one scene where a jaguar literally swims across a fast moving white water stream to get to a resting caymen on a sandbar that was oblivious to the danger until it was too late. The jaguar pounced and grabbed the 6 ft caymen by the nape of the neck and dragged it away with its toothy mouth agape and there wasn’t a thing it could do about it. The jaguar has the strongest bite of any cat in the world and it was able to pierce the tough hide of the caymen like it was a small alligator lizard and drag it away just like a domestic cat playing with a mouse. That scene totally freaked Callie out and she glanced over her shoulder several times in nervous anticipation that she was next. Her tail was thwacking noisely against my thigh with a dull thunk and her back muscles twitched in spasm while her paws clenched and unclenched nervously. Cats have surpassed dogs in the world for becoming the favorite domestic animal to be raised in the house with humans. The feline species is changing and domestication by steadily decreasing the desire to hunt and kill its prey is developing into a dominant trait. I haven’t noticed this with Callie, but I have noticed that she is very engaged with people and loves to be around them. She is no longer a feral cat and has been by and large domesticated. She is still a talented hunter but has to rely on the occasional butterfly, moth, grasshopper or beetle as prey because I don’t want her catching birds. When she witnessed all the big cats like the civet flying straight up into the air to catch a bird, I could see the lights go on in her brain. She has done that exact same move  herself early into our relationship when she was trying to catch a hummingbird. All of a sudden you saw her leap four feet straight up into the air and float sideways with front paws extended in hopes of nabbing the poor bird midair. She wasn’t successful that time but with practice she could have become quite adept at it. I discouraged this habit from the very start and she has been forced to grovel for bugs as a choice of prey. She is a good sport about it now, but I could see her putting two and two together while watching Nova and thinking, now wait a minute here… So, I am not sure if it was such a good idea for her to watch this show and I may have to think twice before the next cat program is shown on TV. I wouldn’t want to educate her to what the wild population of cats are up to these days and I think it best to keep her in the dark. She is fortunate to be living as a domestic cat though because habitat and food sources are becoming less and less available to her wild cousins. In the near future, there will be no more viewing wild life in technicolor for her while watching TV unless it is maybe a bird program and she can fantasize about catching a bird in her dreams.  There is no harm in day dreaming…

Custom Gift Wrapped

If you had told me five years ago, and after I had put my beloved Jack Russel dog Miss Adelaide down, that I would adopt a stray cat that swept into my life with a loud meow, I would have told you,”NO WAY!” That is because once you have a meaningful relationship with a Jack Russel, no other animal compares. At least, no other animal until the day that Callie came along. She has the temperament of a terrier, but doesn’t need to go outside to use the restroom, and she didn’t pee all over the house while playing with a tennis ball. Adelaide would be pissing away while chasing down a ball when she was a puppy and actually destroyed two household carpets before she could control her bladder and be bothered to go outside to poop and pee. Addy would blatantly look you in the eye, squat down right in front of you and not give a damn what the consequences were.  You don’t ask a Jack Russel to obey, you threaten them within an inch of their life before they will even consider it. Once you dominate them though, and you are a consistently firm, thoughtful and high energy owner, you will have a relationship with a dog like no other. So, this is the mindset I had when Callie ran through the front door. Fortunately, she is also very strong willed and her previous owners who timidly came to me a year later to confess that she had been their cat and was impossible to raise, that the light went on in my head that I am raising a Jack Russel CAT! She is game for most any adventure and even out performs Addy when thunder and lightening strike. Addy would run into my closet and bury herself under the clothes and shake for hours. Callie could care less. Addy loved water though and Callie has shown a serious dislike for it. I can’t teach Callie to jump off the side of the pool after a tennis ball and into the water, but I can watch Callie climb high up into the olive trees. So, it is a give and take relationship where Callie does her best to be a cat that acts like a dog, a cat with “additude,” (that was my pet description for Addy’s courage and spunk.) Where as Addy would prefer to chase a ball over just about any other game, Callie will destroy feather toys, loves being chased down and wrestled with and especially delights in pouncing on wrapping paper and bags. I have had to learn to switch my allegiance to a car, but Callie has also done her best to make raising her just enough of a challenge so that it is also very rewarding. I can’t imagine Callie reaching her full potential and exposing all her special talents with anyone else. The two of us adore each other and it appears that we have a friendship that is custom gift wrapped. I am still considering adopting a Jack Russel though and will teach the dog to destroy wrapping paper while Callie will barrel her way into all the bags. Now that will be a sight to behold!

Miss Adelaide

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What goes Up!

In raising Callie, no pun intended, I have had to learn to let her climb, and I mean climb! She can’t walk past a tree, wall, cabinet, chair, roof, you name it, she walks past it, she wants to climb to the top of it. She is a gifted climber too! She has three olive trees in the back yard that seem to call to her to climb every morning. And it is Callie’s preference that I watch her do it and praise her when she reaches the tip top branches of the tree. She frequently flattens out on the sand and wriggles her body and waits for me to make eye contact with her. She will then explode into a wild feline that races upwards until she reaches the top. Callie will then look down on me and wait for the thunderous applause and praise she has come to expect. Some days are for hummingbird sightings but most days are for the shear joy of climbing. When we are experiencing one of the many sand and windstorms in the desert, she finds climbing all the more challenging and rewarding. The branches of the olive tree can be whipping around and she takes pleasure in it. On the days that Callie is house bound, I have a cabinet that holds my husband’s CD collection that is at least 8ft tall. I didn’t think it possible for her to reach the top of it, but one day I found her smugly sitting there and looking down at me with glee. It wasn’t until she had to figure out how to return to the ground that I witnessed her strategy and was quite impressed with her problem solving. She had to climb onto the piano, leap to a lower hutch next to the CD cabinet and then make the final spring up to the top. When she gets to the top there is very little room to spare but she paces back and forth and will sit down and roll her head around like an owl to determine if there is a way to go even higher. When she reaches the ceiling by placing her paw above her head, she gives up and relishes her accomplishment. Getting back down takes a little more courage on her part and it is obviously easier to go up, but what goes up, must eventually come down. Callie can climb head first down a tree where most cats will turn around and slide down rump first and with the CD cabinet, she gracefully leans way out over the edge and then drops down with a thunk. She seems pretty proud of herself when she is finished and will sit back and groom herself and make sure her fur is not left ruffled from the endeavor.  That is why I placed her bed way up high on the TV cabinet in the bedroom. She is a cat that loves to look down on her domain and view her surroundings from up above. There is just a touch of wild and crazy left in Callie and I am thankful she hasn’t figured out the art of pouncing when I walk by.


That Rascally Roadrunner

Mr Roadrunner is going solo again and making the rounds of our backyard around noon each day. He loves to race back and forth and zig zags across the yard and always makes it a point to check in to see if Callie is eavesdropping on him. If she is sitting by the door and they make eye contact, he zips right up in front of her just like the cartoon character with such fast movements he is a blur of motion. A second before he collides with the screen door he puts on the brakes and rocks back and forth while staring at her intensely. This always takes Callie by surprise and she rears back a bit before leaning forward again so as not to loose too much face. He has the upper hand and he knows it. There is no doubt in my mind, or Callie’s mind for that matter, that he could poke her eyes out and would do so in a flash if she gave him any lip. I hope she isn’t caught outside some day when he is making his rounds and she is challenged to a dual. I believe that Callie would just turn and  run like hell, but he is so fast that he would overtake her with ease. He looks like a descendent of some dinosaur and he is one bad ass dude. Fortunately for today, he found Callie safely inside and paid her a quick visit, gave her the evil eye and then spun around to continue his journey. It is just another peaceful day in Borrego Springs where coyotes make sneaky midnight visits and rascally roadrunners follow with attitude in the full light of day…