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Susan Bain

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Columbia, Big Game Hunter
by Susan Bain   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, August 20, 2007
Posted: Friday, March 02, 2007

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Susan Bain

Wildlife Lessons
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An ambitious cat's reach exceeds his grasp.

"What on earth are you doing?" I had just walked into the kitchen and was startled to see Larry crawling on his hands and knees toward me from the living room.

"I'm coming to get you to look at the red deer outside the window. Columbia told me she was there."

Slowly, slowly he got to his feet and we edged forward to the patio door. There! Not ten feet from our vantage point stood a sleek doe munching on the plants around my herb garden, calm, unafraid, but watchful.

Suddenly her head swung up, nostrils quivering, munching suspended, a long, protracted gaze directed our way. Clearly she had seen us. Would she stay?

The munching resumed and she turned back to the garden. Apparently we didn’t seem particularly threatening.

We watched, entranced. She was a lovely, healthy doe with a very red hide. Her muscles rippled as she browsed, a poem of beauty, grace and power.

Columbia decided to join us at the window. Ever vigilant, the doe noticed the movement and again turned her head to evaluate the situation. She seemed curious about the cat, but not alarmed, and continued her meal.

The cat, however, was not so sanguine. He wanted to go out. In fact, he insisted on going out. It seemed he wanted to meet this deer, but how? Surely he had no thought of stalking it? He had been proudly bringing us various presents lately: dead moles, mice and chipmunks, (though we were often able to rescue the chipmunks), but surely it was obvious that a deer was out of his league?

We debated. Should we or shouldn't we? The doe was awfully big, and Columbia, who weighs in at 14 pounds, suddenly looked awfully small. Larry argued that Columbia needed to learn his territory, now that he'd become an outdoor cat, and while we were right at hand was maybe a good time for him to learn something about deer. Besides, for all we knew, he may have already had some experience with them. Sometimes he stayed out while we went shopping. He was often out in the late evening, too, when deer are likely to be browsing nearby.

I agreed. Larry quietly eased the door open just far enough for Columbia to slink out. The doe, alerted by the slight creak of the door, fixed her gaze on the cat, now in classic stalking pose, low to the ground, each foot carefully placed, moving steadily forward.

She let him come for a bit, but then an invisible line was crossed. Her left foreleg stamped the ground. Once, twice, three times. The cat continued to ooze forward. The stamping became rhythmical and continuous. Still the cat was not diverted from his chosen path.

The watchers behind the glass were getting nervous. "Columbia, what on earth are you thinking? That deer is way too big for you to confront. Be still and think for a moment."

Perhaps he heard our subvocal pleadings. Or did it finally occur to him that the behaviour of the doe was not welcoming and might even be cause for concern? He paused, reflected, then turned his head away as though he was not really interested in the deer - just out for an evening stroll, admiring the scenery. The deer was not deceived. She lowered her head and stamped even harder.

Columbia altered direction and began circling the flower bed. The doe was bemused. What was this peculiar animal doing? Distracted, she didn't immediately notice that Columbia was once more moving toward her. Not crouching anymore, but forthright in approach. We wondered if he was trying to be (or appear?) friendly. The deer harboured no such illusions, and started to take small steps toward the cat, stamping as she went. The cat was not deterred. My hand shot of its own volition to the glass, ready to bang on it and startle the deer away if Columbia seemed likely to get stomped upon.

As they closed on each other, the deer snorted, and Columbia, hissing, reached out and slashed his paw in the air in front of the doe's face. The doe reared back, as did the cat.

There was a suspense-filled moment of impasse, but evidently they had reached some sort of detente. The doe stepped back to her supper and the cat turned his back on her. I whispered to Larry to open the door, which he did. We both made the tchh-tchh sound that signals "Treats are in store," and said in hushed voices, "Come on Columbia. Enough is enough. Come inside with us now." And in he sauntered.

What next? Moles, mice and chipmunks are one thing, but deer? He goes to the vet on Tuesday for shots. Are there any shots to prevent delusions of grandeur?

Reader Reviews for "Columbia, Big Game Hunter"

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Reviewed by Christy Keyes 3/7/2007
Is this the short cat syndrome?
Reviewed by Karen Palumbo 3/3/2007
Fun reading! "Delusions of grandeur?" Thank you for sharing this article.
Be safe,
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