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Sunday, June 26, 2011

So Pretty, So Deadly

It has been just over 6 months since Pancake choose her new home, finding comfort in the creature comforts of a house and not a garbage barrel. It is safe to say that she has stolen Clive's heart, and for someone who was neutral about cats, he has come to quite love her. I on the other hand have always liked cats, and it is me that she tends to unleash her furry. Many times Clive will call out to us to stop our fighting and learn to get along. But her one constant behaviors that tests his affection, is her propensity to kill things.

As people who try to live and practice the core principals of Buddhism, we believe in the sanctity of life and the value of all of the creatures on the planet. We also understand that there is a pre-ordained natural order of survival, and sometimes, it is simply your time. We do however have an issue with killing for the sake of killing, I have even moved to blowing towards a mosquito to steer it away, instead of smashing it to death in many instances. Instead of killing the ants, I try to find the source of their interest and remove that and they tend to move away. Pancake however, has a different philosophy. It seems that if it moves, it is fair game to kill, or probably more accurately play to death. Unlike Byron who finds fascination in grasshoppers and beetles and eventually after being hoovered into his mouth to try and prevent you from taking away his new friend, they succumb to his saliva. Usually prior to letting out their last chirps inside his mouth, making his snout sound like a giant cricket. He will gallop out the doors and around the house, tail flagging in the air and his snout chirping.

Pancake is more insidious. I first began to recognize that upon getting up in the morning, I was entering the killing fields, as I found come across the remains of a gecko. It is always the top half of the gecko, from mid-belly to their head, with their little paws stuck straight up as if in a surrender pose. Some mornings the floor from the bedroom to the kitchen would be littered with such grime tales of her night time activity. Sometimes an obvious clean kill, and other times the trails of blood would lead to the corpse. Despite the dogs having no problem eating just about anything from human poo at the beach to cat poop in the front yard, they do not seem to find 1/2 eaten gecko's have any appeal whatsoever.

An evening of watching TV is usually interrupted at least once by Pancake prancing across the room, with a gecko, or a giant spider or various beetles and grasshoppers in their death throes. She does a catch and release, then catch and release again and again. Trying to wrestle the poor victim from her usually results in certain death as she will chomp down and run. I have also notices that not all of the geckos I see in the house have tails. this mystery was solved one evening, when I saw what i though was a worm wriggling on the floor, as a tail-less gecko ran from her mouth as she switched her interest to the writhing thing on the floor. I have since found out that one of the gecko's defense mechanisms is to jettison the tail, which squirms and writhes until it simply stops. This has been an effective tool for them in dealing with Pancake. Not always a successful one, but obvious by the numbers of tail-less gecko's I tend to find.
Then there are the three legged ones, who obviously lost a limb in their quest for survival. I have taken to talking to the gecko's to warn them that this is where Pancake the killer lives, but my lack of speaking a common language seems to not have abated the number of corpses I keep finding.

For spiders and grasshoppers, it seems the primary execution is to remove a leg or two. This enables the victim to be able to try and get away, but handicaps them so that they can't get too far. Unlike gecko's, apparently dogs do find grasshoppers to be a tasty snack. I have yet to pick up a 1/2 kilo bag of those i find roasted at the market, for them. And I see that she has taught the dogs how to catch their own grasshoppers and cockroaches. Grace is not interested in the live ones, just those who have died and laid out in the sun to crisp up a bit.

Frogs are yet another amusement for the princess. I have rescued frogs who have taken a dive into the dog's water bowl in an attempt to escape her. They lay on the bottom of the bowl, as she tries to scoop them out, without getting her feet wet. This lasts until such time as I can get her isolated, go out with the water bowl and dump the frog, into what I hope is safe territory. Immediately after being released from her confines, she heads immediately to where she last saw me wit the frog and begin the hunt again. Last week, a frog, that can climb trees and walls, managed to get to the back yard and in an attempt to escape, they jumped into the swimming pool. Now this particular type of frog is capable of covering a great distance in short hops. I have watched them leap from one wall in the living room and land on the opposite side wall. Probably all well and good, except that a salt water pool is probably not a natural environment for a frog. They now have the dilemma of staying in the salt water or trying to surface and escape, with a cat that shadows them along the pool length. Clive got the pool net and managed to scoop out the frog and then get it to the wall, whereupon it jumped back off the wall and back into the pool. This little game went for a while, and eventually the frog disappeared. I do not know if it finally escaped or had become a snack for pancake, although there were no souvenirs of me to pick up, so I like to think it escaped. The bad part, is that it may well have escaped into a bigger danger area, with a snake waiting for dinner in the plantation. A while ago Clive discovered a snake in the front yard. Now even having a book, when you get startled, and realize you probably had about a 2 second viewing and trying to remember this sighting and match it to the book is not an easy task. In discussions with the neighbour and through looking at photos and video's we believe it is a Cobra. A deceptive aspect of cobra's is that all the photos show them with the head flange engaged. Unfortunately, fidning what they look like when they are not in the few seconds before striking pose of the open flange, is not easy. A call to the sanke catchers did not result in any help, and we have not seen the snake again. Clive had decided to name the cobra snake Kevin, in an effort to demystify the danger it poses. He felt that if we named it we would not be as afraid of it. But I still wonder if in fact Kevin may have had a snack of the frog we rescued from Pancake. Ah, the circle of life. As an aside we have not seen Kevin since we named him, so maybe there is something to Clive's theory after all.
I have already told Pancake that Kevin is not her friend and we are not wanting to have him inside if she decided to engage him in a chase.

A few weeks ago, I had managed to go to bed and was just into that prior to falling asleep slumber, when Pancake came racing along the top of the bed at high speed and jumping on the walls. As it was a warm night, I had laid on top of the sheets, when suddenly something soft and cool splatted onto my back and was trying to burrow under my belly, with Pancake right behind, and trying to dig under me while perched on my back. Now I do have a bed side lamp and as i tried to turn this on and get out of the bed, to figure out what the hell had become my bed mate, I realized that the bulb that had been burned out for a few months, that I was going to get around to replacing, had never gotten around to it. As I scrambled in the dark, pawing my way on top of the bedside table, I felt a sudden pain in my hand, with what felt like a clawing and biting, only to find that pancake had decided my frantic hand movements were an invitation to play and she had pounced on the hand and was tackling it. Another soft splat on my chest and I had managed to find the room light and saw the source of the splats was indeed a frog. I roused Clive from his sleep and he managed to scoop the frog out doors while I restrained Pancake, who bolted for the window screen and began her ascent to the top of the windows, trying frantically to get out with her new friend.

Pancake has now moved on to the bigger an better things in a cats assortment of prey. She has taken great notice of birds and a pair of squirrels in the back yard. I watched last week as she lay prone on the floor with her teeth chattering and her eyes fixed on a bird. As she was having that spastic reaction cats seem to have when they are bird watching/hunting. The jaw trembles, a chattering sound come from their mouth, the tail twitches from extreme left to right and back. Byron was laying next to her, quite fascinated and almost a look of concern as he looked at her then to me and back to her, as if to say, "what's happening, is the cat having a seizure"? I would think a bird would see this spastic behaviour and stay away, but later that night, I found that at least one found out that as cute as she may be, Pancake can be deadly.

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