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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Talk about an interesting cat.

Talk about a favorite interesting cat.

Melissa is a glossy, midnight-black cat, arrogant as a tyrant of old, fierce as the most ruthless savage, or affectionate as the most loving child. Whenever arrogance is her role, she gives her whole heart to it. Roused from soft sleep and feeling a vague need for a lap of milk or a mouthful of liver, she will move toward her dishes unhurriedly and gracefully like a duchess. No calls to play, no rolling balls, no tantalizingly twitched strings will divert her determined progress toward the kitchen. From the gentle stroke along her back or a soft scratching under ears and chin, she will ooze away as elusively as quicksilver. With tail at a proud angle and with haughty dignity, she will quietly and persistently pursue her way.

Even when just fed, with drops of milk or flecks of beef upon her narrow, triangular chin, she grows alert to the impertinent chatter of sparrows reminding her that hunting is one of her dearest sports and a test of her greatest skills. Then the countless ages that separate her from the forests and jungles of the Far East dissolve. Standing on the doorstone of a twentieth-century house in the middle of a great city, she became again the savage hunter. The dusty, feathery smell of the sparrows fighting for crumbs comes to her sensitive nose. A few blades of grass and a discouraged city bush may be Melissa’s only cover. Nevertheless, she snaps her tail purposefully, steps off the doorstone, and by a series of running, fluid steps reaches the bush. In these steps her body elongates and her legs contract tensely holding her close to the ground. In the shelter of the bush she watches fixedly her still unwary prey. Now by flattening her ears, she gains great confidence, for all cats know that thus protected they become invisible. Crouched and delicately poised for her deadly pounce, she moves not a whisker. A tiny breeze ruffles the soft fur of her sides. They very tip of her long graceful tail twitches with very passing decision to leap, to wait, to watch. Thus she savors in anticipation the delightful instant when her steel claws will slide through crisp feathers, clutch tender flesh, and hold her excitingly lively prey until she can snatch it in her strong, razor-sharp teeth. Birds are too messy for her to eat except for a mouthful or two to prove that she knows a toothsome morsel when she finds it. But to catch well, there is something Melissa can not explain; every so often she just has to prove that she is a good hunter.

Back inside her home, no more than minutes later in time but several aeons later in civilization, Melissa looks for appreciation and affection. She is a great and skillful hunter home safely and successfully from the chase. The descendant of ancient gods in Egypt, still goddess in her own home, she unbends now to seek not only applause, but also a chance to express her affection. She hunts a warm, secure lap that she can happily knead, a pair of hands that are firm, soothing, and trained to tickle the right spots, scratch others, and softly smooth the rest. Melissa raises sleepy eyes and a gently prodding head to rub the length of her cheek and neck against the wrist behind her head. The proud cat in search of food and the cruelly persistent sportsman have been momentarily forgotten in the sleepy, gently purring companion.

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