Saturday, October 25, 2008


For three weeks, I could get this close to Sunbeam only when she was on the other side of the window, spying on me in my office.

We have a darling orange striped cat who adopted us over the summer. We named her Sunbeam, but who knows what she calls herself. We haven't had a cat for seven years because the last cat who adopted us, the beautiful black Shadow, broke our hearts when he died. We also don't want the lizards and birds in our yard to be murdered. Because Sunbeam rejected our usual efforts to scare her out of our yard, just as Shadow had, we decided we had been paw picked again and this must be our cat.

Sunbeam was hungry when she appeared in our yard, but she was also afraid of us. Taming her took three weeks. I had to eat my breakfast on the porch, wearing long sleeves and pants to fend off the mosquitoes when the temperature was over 100 degrees, while she ate at my feet. As soon as she finished eating, she was gone. I was getting pretty fed up with this behavior, and told her I was not going to feed a feral cat who gave nothing back to us. The next day, she flopped on her side and let us pet her for the first time. This was the first big break through in our relationship.

When we were petless, we named the wild animals we could recognize in our yard. A huge collared lizard bravely owned the walkway to the clothes line. He would not budge, and we had to go around him. We admired his courage and stoutness, and named him Augie, which is the name of one the Sidewinders (local AAA baseball team) who is also stocky. We were saddened to see that Sunbeam killed Augie for the fun of it. She didn't even eat him. When this happens, I want to take her not to the no-kill animal shelter, but the kill shelter. We went through four years of this with Shadow, but Sunbeam is a more accomplished murderer than he was. Or at least he had the sense to take his kills to his dissenting lab, as we called the place under a tree at the back of the yard where he dismembered birds out of our sight. Sunbeam is not ashamed or secretive about her violent tendencies.

Her Highness takes a break from murder and mayhem. Or not. What's she got under those front paws, anyway?

Of course, a cat has her ways of getting her needs met without cramping her own style too much. Sunbeam's adorable chirping as she enters the house, the way she flops on her side to entice us to scratch her head, her soft fur and beautiful markings all enchant us and make us willing subjects of Her Majesty.

Now Sunbeam is so relaxed around us, we have a hard time getting her to go out at night.

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