Izzie-1: World Champ

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No. 1: World Champion

Or

“The Cat That Caught 14 Lizards and 1 Mouse While In Harness And Attached to A 5 Foot Leash!”

Since the year has come to a close I’m declaring my cat, Isabella, to be World Champion and Title Holder for the year 2011. The title is: “The Only Cat Who Caught 14 Lizards and 1 Mouse While Harnessed up and Attached to a 5 Foot Leash!”

I know that a little background information is necessary so I’ll provide it now. Two years ago, our daughter, Terri, got a call from a lady realtor she knows. The woman explained that she had sold a new condo to a man who was a cat lover. The problem was that he had four cats and the Homeowners Association only allowed three. The man picked his youngest cat, a five year old and placed her in a Pet Motel where she had been languishing for three months while he tried to find her a new home. This was getting expensive so he decided to give it one more try before he gave up and took the cat to the pound. He called his realtor and she called our daughter who then called us. Our cat had died two years before and we didn’t really want another but this story was so compelling we agreed to take Isabella.

The owner showed up the next day with Isabella in a brand new carrier with a soft blanket in the bottom, a sack of the expensive nutritional canned cat food, and Izzie’s medical records. He gave us the cat and the other items and you could see it was breaking his heart. He explained that he had found Izzie in a cardboard box in the parking lot of his former home and had taken her in and she had been an “inside” cat ever since. He cautioned us to never let her get out of the house because she wouldn’t understand traffic or coyotes or any of the other dangerous things to be found out there.

Soon after we got Izzie we saw that she really wanted to get outside and explore. We talked about it and decided we should get a harness and leash and try to train her to walk with us. We went to the pet store and lo and behold, discovered that cat harnesses are a common item. We bought an attractive red harness and leash set and headed for home to try it out. We thought that the best way to train Izzie would be to use the same routine each time so she could memorize the steps involved. I selected one of the reclining chairs that I would use every time and determined that I would always sit down and place Izzie on my legs and facing away from me while I attached the harness. It turned out that the surprise was on me! I placed Izzie in position on my legs and she stood there stiff-legged and quiet while I latched the two snaps and attached the swivel. When I completed the tasks, I said “okay” and she took that as her cue to jump down and head for the door. That first time, she seemed to know exactly what we were doing and she performed the drill perfectly and has done so ever since. What a cat!
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Our first walk was exciting. Izzie checked out every inch of our property with all senses on full alert. I’m sure that she memorized every sight, sound, and smell in the yard. You could see that her eyes and ears were constantly moving and that her nose twitched full time as she acquired information for her memory bank. You’ll see how she used this information as we get into her hunting stories.

Izzie’s first lizard catch came as quite a surprise to me. We were walking in the grass, along side the hedge. Izzie was in her customary position, about two steps in front of my right leg. She was looking at everything but I was just gazing at the blue sky and some puffy white clouds. All of a sudden…WHAMMO! The leash was almost jerked out of my hand as Izzie dived under a bush. She backed out from under the bush with a lizard in her mouth

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which she dropped at my feet and then looked up at me with such a proud look on her face. I told her what a great hunter she was and continued to praise her as she stood guard over her prize. Every time the lizard moved she would put her paw on it and hold it until it quit wiggling. I finally picked Izzie up and carried her away before she killed the lizard.

Most of the lizard catches went the same way. If the lizard was smart it would play possum after she dropped it and she would get bored and turn away and the lizard could escape. I didn’t interfere until she had learned everything possible from the experience.

Izzie caught two lizards while Pat was walking her. The first catch was on the patio and she simply outran it. The second catch was much more impressive and gave more of an indication of how her mind was developing. Pat and Izzie were walking on the grass next to the hedge when all of a sudden Izzie lunged. Pat was able to see a lizard running under a bush and it was just out of reach. Izzie was still lunging and trying to get to the lizard but was at the end of the leash. The lizard ran to a bush and scampered up the trunk and into the lower branches. Pat and Izzie got closer as the lizard was climbing higher in the bush. As Izzie got to a spot under the lizard she tried to go for it but the branches were too dense and she couldn’t reach it. She settled back on her haunches, keeping her eyes on the lizard. All of a sudden, she jumped up and grabbed the lower branches with her two front paws and started shaking the branches vigorously. It wasn’t long until the lizard dropped to the ground and she grabbed it with her teeth. She solved her problem, grabbed her prize, and then proudly dropped it at Pat’s feet.

Sometimes Izzie wants to stay out in the back yard for a while so we stake her out and then check on her every 10 or 15 minutes. Again, her leash is only five feet long but that doesn’t deter a mighty hunter like her. She’ll lay there for 30 minutes without moving until some dumb lizard wanders into range and then, like a lightning strike, it’s all over. Once she’s done the deed, she makes that throaty “kill” sound like all cats make and we go get the lizard before she tries to eat it. I made the mistake of letting her eat one and she had a stomach ache for two days.

Okay, I’ve saved the best story ‘til last. We’ve got a sidewalk that runs clear across the back of the house and across the north side and is right up against the footing. From the sliding glass patio door around to that diagonal corner of the house it’s probably 90 or 100 feet. One fine morning, Izzie and I came through the patio door and stepped down on the patio. As her feet hit the ground, she froze for an instant and then took off down the sidewalk as fast as she could go with me struggling to keep up with her. The amount of power a little old cat can generate is astounding! I felt like she was dragging me all the way! We got to the end of the house and she slid around the corner with her claws scratching the concrete and immediately regained her speed. I’m trying to stay on my feet as we race to the other end and she doesn’t seem to notice that she is dragging me behind her. We get to the other end and she zips past the trash cans and sticks her nose up into the corner of the fence. She pulls back out of there and she’s got a lizard in her mouth! All I can say as I try to catch my breath is “what the heck?”   I still can’t believe it. That lizard was probably 100 feet away, around a corner, and climbing a wooden fence, and she knew exactly where it was! Amazing!

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This concludes my justification of the superior ability of Isabella and I am proclaiming that she is “The Only Cat Who Caught 14 Lizards And 1 Mouse While Harnessed Up And Attached To A 5 Foot Leash!”

Dave Thomas
May 16, 2012

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