Screech! Panic flared at the sound, I dropped my dirty rag, yelled for the dogs and the four of us charged to the back of the house like a locomotive at full steam. Overhead three Harris Hawks swooped low over the roof and circled around the back yard. My heart was in my throat because Kitty was out in back chasing mice and lizards. Now the predator was prey and I feared I might see Kitty struggling in the raptor’s talons but she was nowhere to be seen. The three hawks perched on the telephone pole at the back of the property as a fourth hawk joined the hunt. The three dogs barked and howled my panic as they ran past the greenhouses and lapped the shop area. Stooping as I ran I scooped up some larger pieces of gravel and proceeded to pitch them up at the pole to scare off the hawks. Bemused they looked down their beaks at us, cocking their heads in that way birds do, watching the crazed two-legged being and the manic dogs running in circles. The hawks may have lost their lunch but they never lost their composure. Instead they lifted off the pole with a few powerful thrusts of their wings and soared out into the desert. Turning back to the house I saw Kitty cowering under a chaise lounge out by the pool. Spying me she took off for the back door and with relief I let her inside.
Miss Kitty spent a small part of her day outside when we lived in Aravaipa. Initially I worried she’d be killed by a coyote or Blackhawk but the wilderness of Aravaipa was lush with plentiful game for all the major predators. The mountain lions preyed on deer and javelina, the hawks went for the jackrabbits as did the coyotes. In terms of dinner, Kitty was too small to be satisfying or appealing. I still played it safe, keeping her in at dawn and dusk, but at least once a day she went outside to roll in the dirt, nose through the corral and climb the pecan trees. The mouse population of the old singlewide kept her plenty busy. There are no rodents in the house here in Gold Canyon, a fact that has fueled Kitty’s desire to go outside and hunt.
Of course the three dogs go out all the time, a fact that rankles Kitty. It doesn’t matter whether we are inside or out, she paces by the French doors, peering out the glass, meowing loudly. If that doesn’t get our attention she runs at the back door, slams into it and climbs it like a tree clawing the framework. It is quite the attention getting stunt I must admit, but it fails to earn my pity. “No Kitty” I say in my I-mean-business voice but it only spurs her to try other means to get outside. Taking advantage of the fact that a set of three bar stools are perfectly lined up with the back door, Kitty will curl up on the middle stool feigning sleep, but once the door opens she springs to the next stool and flies at the door. This worked once but now I am onto her and like a middle linebacker I use my body to block her leap. Either athleticism runs in her blood or Kitty must have seen some ice skating shows on ESPN and practiced the moves when I’m not around as her latest trick was quite cunning. She sat patiently on the kitchen counter as I carried in bags of groceries. Yelling “back, back!” at the top of my voice, I was amazed to see Kitty whirl up into the air, perform a perfect double toe lutz with a back flip, land on the trash can cover then somersault over my shoulder and out the door. I had to hand it to her, Michelle Kwan couldn’t have done it better. As she sprinted towards the pool I sighed in defeat. There was nothing more to do but grab a glass of iced tea and sit out on the patio to wait for the queen to come back to my applause.