A Deer Cat

Somehow the idea of a cat making friends with a deer is almost as amusing and ludicrous as the old fable of the lion and the mouse who removed a thorn from his paw. But, as you can see, these deer are not alive and the cat knows that quite well. However, the cat is very much alive! I didn’t pose this picture but it sure looks as if Bertha expected that photo op. My therapist and I were walking around our circle when she noticed Bertha on the deer and took a picture for me.

Bertha is a talented cat full of personality. She regularly walks with me, weaving herself and her long tail in and out of the my legs and those of the walker. Charles picks her up and carries her sometimes and she sniffs his beard and cuddles down until she’s suddenly ready to hit the ground again. She talks to us too. If I say something she responds with a “meow” and hugs my leg with her tail. She is a rather loud cat, in fact, seeking attention with varied mews and meows.

But she does know how to be very quiet. She’s a hunter.

One of her favorite places is amongst some flower pots at the base of a bird bath. Whenever a bird lights on the rim of the bird bath, Bertha goes into a crouching stance, her tail very silently twitches, her head is slightly down with ears flattened. I have told her before that if she starts killing our birds she’s “out of here,” but she’s never taken me seriously. She’s probably talked to the other cats and learned that Sassy, when she was younger, caught birds sometimes and didn’t get ousted. The other day we saw Bertha investigating the bird bath very closely and, on his own investigation, Charles discovered many feathers floating in the water. Bertha came very close that time to catching a mockingbird. Another time I saw her sneak up on an unsuspecting mourning dove grazing under a feeder. That dove came within one tail feather of being caught before she took wing. We’ve seen Bertha stalk a squirrel too. She ran one squirrel up a tree in such hot pursuit I doubt that squirrel ever sets foot on the ground again. He better stay high in the pines and the mulberry tree.

As to the deer, they are always there to greet us from the very same spot between camellias. As with us, their appearance has changed some over the years. They were a smooth pretty deer-tan when our family gave them to us at our joint fiftieth birthday party. Now they are covered with lichen. I set grandchildren to helping scrub and scrape the lichen off one day but it was a lost cause. Even bleach didn’t help. I decided their coats of lichen were a very nice camouflage. I guess you can’t make even a deer statue young again!

From the time they were babies the grandchildren have enjoyed being set on and later climbing up for a deer “ride.” The buck and doe have always been most amenable for whatever the children’s imaginations led them to do, as the above photo shows. They have submitted to being horses galloping across the range or props for gymnastic stunts or roaring lions in the jungle.

Seeing the very lively cat Bertha who chases after every moving creature, even beetles, sitting so dramatically on a solid never-moving deer has to produce a smile. I can’t help thinking homophonically of a dear deer cat!

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