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October 13, 2003 - 10:07 p.m.

Mao – The Serpent Slayer

Where I live isn't exactly a snake Mecca, however about a month ago a dead snake appeared on my front pouch. Not a big snake, it was about a foot long. I never see snakes around, so was surprised to see this one. There were some men at my house laying carpet, so they kept tossing the snake into the bushes. But it kept showing up on the step. It was definitely dead, so I figured the cat was returning it for some reason.

On Friday, just a few days ago, when I came home from work my son, Phil asked, "Did you see the snake on the driveway?"

I said, "No".

He said, "YOUR cat is catching snakes! There is something WRONG with him (my cat, Mao). He's sick or demented or something."

I went outside to check if there was really a snake in the driveway. Nope. As I came back up on the step I saw Mao sitting there. Curled up under a rake handle was a very small, slender snake. I moved the rake a little and could see that the snake was somewhat alive. Mao turned and pounced on it. Batting it with his front paw numerous times. Then he picked it up and took it up on the chair on the front step. Dropped it and batted it around a little more. He did this repeatedly. Eventually I went in, knowing the snake wasn't going to make it.

Hmmm, I thought, Mao - the Serpent Slayer. I have a cat that seeks out small snakes and carries them around, playing with them every chance he gets, until they die. I guess a snake is really like a fat, short string that moves all by itself. I guess it has 'cat toy' written all over it.

There was a feral cat that showed up at my house as a kitten about three summers ago. She never let us catch her... but she lived under the front step and I fed her. Phil named her Shizzy. The following summer she had three kittens. We held the kittens a lot and then got used to us, though they never wanted to be in the house. My niece and nephew named the kittens like Socks and Tigger. Through the winter we lost all but one of the kittens. The one that lived was Tigger. She and Shizz had kittens last summer. One mangy black cat was the father of all three litters. Tigger had two litters and Shiz had one. First litter was Tigger's. She had just two kittens... a tortoise calico and an orange tabby. We took them away at about four weeks and hand fed them. Mao is the orange tabby (male) (now MY cat) and Cali is the calico (female) (and is owed by my sister Spaz). The next litter was also Tigger's. This time she had five kittens. Four of the kittens went to Dream Power (and all five kittens were fixed, as well as Tigger.) One kitten, Phil thought was very cool, so we kept her. She was also a tortoise calico, with a Manx gene in there somewhere, cuz she has a short tail. Phil named her Halfie, for obvious reasons. Shizz had the last litter of the summer. One orange tabby (male) name Fozzy and owned by my sister Chatter, another calico with a half tail (female), kept by us and named by Phil as Stubby, and a pretty, normal tailed black tabby with white feet that we were never able to catch. Shizz was fixed last fall, and so no more kittens for us. Yeah!!

I looked up Manx on the web and found that all our cats have some of that personality. They all LOVE to carry stuff around. Halfie is always showing up with Phil's clock out slip in her mouth. She takes things too... like Phil’s retainer. Cali, Spaz's cat, took all the ornaments off their Christmas tree last year. Everything on the bottom 2 feet of the tree and batted them all under the buffet numerous times. Cali also likes to walk on ledge of the stairs on the outside of the railing and she has a beanie buddy she carries around the house. They are all adorable cats, with striking personalities.

Well... enough on the cats.

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