The cat in the house is ready to do tricks


Pinko came running into the living room from the garage with a green anole lizard in his mouth.

Oh yes, Pinko is a 16-year-old indoor-only Russian Blue cat, not a student or congressman. I know it’s not cool to say Russian these days since the megalomaniacal putz Putin attacked Ukraine.

But if I spoke of the cat as a Blue Archangel, no one would know what I was talking about in perfect hell. Besides, this Russian blue did not attack a neighboring country for no reason.

Pinko confines his attacks to lizards, and he has a big one hanging in his mouth.

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Unwelcome gift

Pinko meows. Well, the cat looks like Tom Waits clearing gravel from his throat when he meows. The Russian Blue seems extremely proud of his capture, which may or may not still be alive.

Pinko lays the green body by the fireplace for me to admire. Exactly what I wanted, kitty. A lightly chewed anole. All I can think is, “You better throw that reptile out in the yard before Amy gets home.”

Amy is my wife. The anoles give him the heebie-jeebies. It makes no sense since she grew up on a cypress pond in the woods of North Florida that was teeming with moccasins, frogs, water snakes, alligators, skinks and anoles. It’s like being raised in a library but being afraid of books.

The clock is turning. Amy will open the front door anytime. I grab Pinko and toss her fuzzy ass into a nearby bedroom where Shuggie Pop, the other indoor-only Russian Blue, wakes up on the bedspread. I locked the two cats inside.

not dead yet

When I go to catch the lizard, the miniature dinosaur comes to life and frolics under a nearby TV table. Nothing looks quite as silly as a grown man on all fours yelling at a traumatized lizard that he’s trying to save the skin (expletive) from the anole (expletive).

So that comes to mind. There is an anole hunter at the top in the chamber. Why not let Pinko do all the work? Still.

When I open the bedroom door, I am jostled by two Russian Blues. I point Pinko towards the TV table and struggle against Shuggie Pop. The Excitable Shuggie is about as easy to corral as a canned ham with claws. I send a squirming Shuggie back into the room and slam the door.

As I turn around, Pinko is seated, posing with the lizard (having a very bad day so far) firmly between its fangs. Trying to get a live anole out of a cat’s mouth is about as difficult and reckless as it sounds.

Voles in your slippers

Why do cats think humans yearn for wingless birds, headless mice, and still-breathing snakes? Scientists say it’s their way of showing off their hunting ability, displaying their worth, and seeking praise. I think cats laugh at us.

Take Kato, a spoiled Himalayan cat I got a few years ago. Kato may have looked adorable, but this Hello Kitty clone had the genocidal soul of Pol Pot when it came to voles. The voles must have put their muddy feet on the furniture and clogged the toilet because Kato had had enough of the little mole-like vermin.

At night, he would use his flat face to push open the doors of the water heater leading to the underworld of our house. There, in the dark, he would hunt the voles. When he had one, Kato chewed the pieces of tinder (little vole noses, little vole toes, little vole ears) and threw the lifeless body into one of my bedroom slippers.

Let me tell you something, nothing inspires crazy dancing first thing in the morning more than crushing a corpse of a freshly killed vole covered in spit. When I stopped wearing slippers because I was fed up with them being used as repositories for dead voles, Kato left little bodies on the kitchen steps in the morning. According to Kato, I needed to crush a half-eaten vole before breakfast.

born killers

Cats are tough on the little things. When colonialists arrived in New Zealand, they introduced cats to the island nation. The invasive cats took a look at the native birds, especially the flightless ones, and treated New Zealand like an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Domestic cats are born killers. Most owners choose to ignore this about four-legged killing machines.

I lock my eyes and stare sternly at Pinko. Maybe now that he’s old enough to drive, he can understand the look of disappointment on my face and drop the anole. He doesn’t.

It’s a cat. He has no remorse. I grab Pinko and the sad showdown begins. I don’t know if the lizard is alive or dead at this point, but I know Amy will freak out if she walks through the door the moment I rip a soft lizard from the cat’s jaws.

Pinko doesn’t like it at all when I finally remove the plug from his mouth and throw the lizard back on the fire pit. The cat has a conniption on the way back to the bedroom. Shuggie also wants in on the action, so putting the two Blues behind the door turns into a two-cat tango.

Somehow I finally close them inside. Phew. Now the lizard.

A close call

I grab the motionless anole by the tail. The tail breaks in my hand. A stratagem. The lizard tries to back under the TV table, but I grab the drooling reptile.

Then the little mother scratcher bites me. Hard. This is the thank you that I receive. I throw the anole at a plant in the garden. As one of my past editors said, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

As I close the back sliding glass door, I hear a key in the front door. Amy is home.

“So how was your day?” she asks.

“Well, not much happened,” I said.

Former arts and entertainment writer Mark Hinson retired in 2019 and now writes a monthly comedy column.

Mark Hinson is a former senior editor for the Tallahassee Democrat. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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