Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Leo the Lion

The Brave Hunter is Low to the Ground

12 pounds of lithe, sinewy grace.

Ears twitch from the other side of the house. He senses something, presses his body low to the ground and moves quickly and silently across the carpet.

A second later, he's in place.

In stalk posture. Whiskers forward. Poised before the window.

His DNA infused with the knowledge and instinct of big cats 50 times his size. And, like most Leos, he believes at times that he is a big cat. King of the Jungle.

He's a rescue. Found on the street, a few inches long and less than half a pound.

Goofy from the first time we saw him, he tried to curl up in his food bowl at the shelter, mewing like something from the scene of a Fisher-Price car accident. But when he first settled into my palm and looked up at me, he instantly relaxed. Totally calm, totally content, totally sweet. (And totally melting my heart even though I've always been a dog person and never had much use for cats.)

He's grown in the past 8 years -- now 42 inches from paw to paw when he stretches out.

But he's still goofy.

He recognized his reflection in the mirror quickly, but never quite understood the difference between the inside of a glass (or a cardboard box) and the outside. And he still regularly jumps backwards up in the air, disturbed by something only cats can see.

To this day, he's doglike -- he loves baths (except for the rinse cycle), plays fetch, and comes when you call him. He doesn't exactly bark with glee at the thought of car rides, but he's relatively happy to ride in the car.

Last year, he developed a urinary infection that was misdiagnosed by his old vet. This made him lethargic and he started gaining weight, eventually topping out at 18 pounds. His new vet quickly figured out the problem, gave him a course of antibiotics, and within 2 weeks his old energy was back.

So we put him on special diet food and put a bird feeder on the porch outside the living room window. Within 4 months, he was down to his bird-taunting goal weight of 12 pounds. He's an indoor cat, so he doesn't actually hunt down and kill the birds. But he'll stalk them from inside. And he'll charge the glass (or the screen) and make them fly away.

And always with a look that says "if it weren't for the window and screen, I'd be catching birds every single day!"

A few weeks ago, I was cleaning the porch and found a small dead bird. When I came inside, his whiskers were all forward. He gave me a knowing "urp" and a look that seemed to say "yeah, I killed that bird with my mind. We cats can do that, you know."

Happy Birthday, Sitka!

Update: For frequent commenter asiangrrrl, here's Sitka as a kitty, recommending one of his favorite books. (Teaching him to read was easy, getting him not to gnaw on the books was a lot harder...)

As you can see, his face has always been head-explodingly cute!


thingy said...

LOL. How sweet.

asiangrrl said...

Baby Sitka pics, pleeeeease? And, this one's for you, Handsome. Have a good one.


WZJN said...

Damn funny video!