She came to live with us while we were living in my parent's basement 12 years ago. We adopted her and she started her life with us in a laundry basket filled with towels. We needed her to be an "outside" cat so her cushy life in the basket didn't last long. We moved her up to the porch of the new house. She started her job before we moved in. She grew up to be a lean, mean killing machine. Snakes, mice, skinks, birds, moles...if it moved she could catch it. She was a master of the cat and mouse game. She would catch a mouse with her paw (picture traumatized mouse in shock) lift her paw and wait for the terrified mouse to move and then with a quick slap capture the poor thing again. I never knew where the phrase originated until I saw her play the game and she always won.
She lived surrounded by squirly, overenthusiastic labrador retrievers. She was the queen. They all had scars to prove it. Her hiss struck fear in dogs and humans alike. Those dogs may have treed her a few times, but from her perch she looked down on them with disdain and regained her throne in her own dignified way. Affectionate only in her queenly way and only with those she chose to associate with. When she was done accepting our snuggling, she let you know none so gently. She had a special relationship with my husband. Whenever he sat on the front porch reading the paper, it was his lap she chose to jump up on and he was the only one who could rough her up without ending up with bloody hands. I fed her, made her bed and was always the one who secretly let her in the house, but he got the only love she ever gave willingly.
She took pride in her work and enthusiastically included us in her celebrations. Too many days I sleepily stepped on her kill which she would ceremoniously deposit by which ever door was most convenient for her. I think she calculated the exact spot to put her kill so we had the greatest probability of stepping on it. When she heard me screech, I'm sure she wore a satisfied smile. We made her a bed for the winter and even bought her one of those warm electric beds. She refused to use it. In the bitter cold we would feel sorry for her and bring her in the house. She would find the cushiest blanket or the warmest lap and curl up and purr so as to let us know, not that she was happy, but that we better not move her until she was good and ready to go. There were several incidents I can recall where we had to cover her with a blanket in order to get her out of the house without severe bodily harm.
Cal had a thing for cheese. It was the only "people food" I ever saw her eat. If you had a piece of cheese in your hand, there was a good chance you could lose a chunk of your finger as she snatched the cheese. She wouldn't drink clean water, she preferred a good mud puddle or pond water. She loved containers. If there was a pot or a bucket or she would be in it usually on her back or twisted into some position a contortionist would marvel at. She was a real cat, she had claws and she used them.
Over the last year, since we haven't been here regularly, my dad has been her caretaker. He fed her and made sure she was taken care of when we weren't around. She looked for him and he grew to expect her whine for attention. A look and a brief acknowledgment were enough for her. She roamed the property clearing it of vermin...always doing her job for us faithfully.
She disappeared three weeks ago. Each weekend when we came, I called for her expecting her to pop out of the bushes. Cal's been gone before, but never for more than a few days. For 12 years she avoided hawks, turkey vultures and even bald eagles. We have bobcat, fox and all sorts of other animals that might be a problem for a cat. It could have been a stray dog. We'll never know. All we know is that it's not the same here without her. Wherever she is, I'll bet she's smiling!