Diary of a Cat Walker, #23
It had to happen.
Today was just like any other Sunday. After eating breakfast, it was time to take Gloria for her walk. The Fall weather was turning hot again, so I figured we'd take our walk before the heat of the day. No dawdling.
I've been walking Gloria for about 9 months now, but it's only been the last couple of months where her focus has changed. Before, she was more focused on the walk and hunting was an incidental joy. Now, hunting is first and foremost on her mind. She returns to places where she spotted lizards in the past to check them out...just in case. And she used to basically ignore the many squirrels and birds in the park, but now she sees them as prey. It's slowed our walks down a bit, but hasn't really changed their value. Her enhanced focus on hunting shows that she's become even more comfortable. The world is slowly becoming hers.
So we went to California Historical Nursery Park. We go there a lot because it's close and it's Gloria's favorite place. For a while, she didn't show a preference over other places until she discovered there were lizards in this park. She adores hunting for and chasing lizards, and I'm happy for her. When the hunt is on, she's being 100% cat, and I'm proud to have made this possible. The lizards hang out in the well-manicured part of the park -- surrounded by stones, tree stumps, vines, and plants of all kind; making it easy for them to disappear into a crevice or plant in the blink of an eye. They're smart like that. So, while in the back of my mind I always entertained the possibility of a catch, I guess I never thought it would be TODAY and hadn't really thought about what it might look like or how to deal with it (full disclosure -- this isn't the first time she's caught one, but this is the first time she was able to hold on to it). So when she caught the lizard and began walking around with it in her mouth, I was a little shocked. At one point, she came up to me, as if she were going to gift it to me. Instead of taking it, I hastily took a couple pictures as I asked her to drop it.
She didn't. Not right away. She wandered with it for a full minute or two before gently setting it down. It began to scurry away, but she turned so fast that she was able to catch it again. And then I realized it dropped it's tail, and there it was wiggling and squirming on the sidewalk as if it had a life of its own. Gloria noticed it, but only gave it a passing glance. She has something much more valuable in her mouth. Again, the pacing, as if she had no idea what to do with it, but knew she didn't want it to get away. I dumped some treats on the sidewalk in front of her, hoping she'd go for the yummy treats, but they might as well have been antibiotics; she had zero interest. All the while, the severed tail continued to dance upon the sidewalk, as if it was aware its owner had yet to be freed. Finally, she set it down for again. As soon as it slipped from her mouth, I pulled her toward me and the lizard got away. I was afraid she'd killed it, but it quickly fled, sans tail, and disappeared behind a plant and tunneled beneath some leaves. Gloria pulled at the leash, but I kept telling her it had gotten away. And it had. I'm hopeful it will be able to survive the ordeal and live to repopulate the park.
So here's the delimna. I know, that as an indoor cat, I'm keeping her from making a dent in the small animal population, so if she catches a lizard once in a blue moon, well, it's good for her on an emotional level; she's doing what she was meant to do. Also, she's not making an appreciable dent in the wildlife population, even if the catch doesn't survive. Still, I'd rather she didn't succeed in the hunt. Is that fair? I don't think so, but that's how I feel. Even while taking the photo, I was conflicted. I wanted to capture her being 100% cat, and as a blogger, that's what I do. I was feeling both happiness and revulsion, and even while taking the picture, I was telling her to drop it.
After our trip there, we went to Devout Coffee, a high-end coffee shop in the neighborhood. We do this frequently, too, because they have an outside seating area so I can drink my coffee while exposing Gloria to people. Gloria does pretty well here. She doesn't really like it, but tolerates it. Today, there was a little bit of swagger in her walk. It was like she was saying, "yeah, I caught a lizard, bitches, no big deal". My imagination? Maybe, but I'm pretty sure confidence and pleasure was rolling off her in waves.
So I guess it's important that you, as a cat walker, accept the possibility that your cat may indeed catch something on one of your walks. And while you may not like it, it's a big part of being a cat. It's what they do. And as unsavory at it may be to you, your cat is likely to benefit from it emotionally. I have a feeling that on our next walk, Gloria will immediately be in her element.