As mom to five cats, my girls as I call them, I am quite use to the relationships between cats. One minute a sister is happily twitching in her sleep, as unknown to anyone around her, she stalks a plump little morsel who has dared to peek over the top of his den… then, W…H…A…M… she herself is pounced upon by a sister, who is herself stalking a very interesting fuzzy “snake” that keeps twitching!
Coming awake and alert under such stressful circumstances usually results in a minor skirmish, with possibly a short chase as a conclusion. Fast forward the situation five minutes and the two sisters will have somehow managed to both find my lap and be busily grooming themselves and each other. They will be calling a truce and making friends again as only cats know how… the rest of us tend to take longer in overcoming the resentment of being so rudely awakened!
I have to wonder though, “How does a cat make friends with a wild animal?” In our neighborhood, we have not only the various assortment of domesticated animals, but also a fairly large group of deer. I hesitate to call them a herd, because I honestly think the deer are several smaller groups that each have their own territory. If my tally is correct, two positively and possibly three of the deer live in the woods directly behind our house. Shelter in this area is plentiful, food in the form of acorns is abundant, and contact with humans can easily be kept to a minimum… all in all, prime territory for the deer! Now if you have read my earlier postings, you will quickly realize that at least three of my girls were born in these very woods and to this day Marie disappears into them daily.
Toulouse though, is the one I want to tell you about. I have seen her interact with the visiting deer before… as a kitten she would stalk them. I’m still not positive, but I believe she thought she could ride one like a horse. Would that not be quite the sight? It is her latest interaction though that has captivated my attention and what I want to share with you. This past Saturday, I happened to be passing a window in the back of my house and, as is frequently the case, I paused to take a look around the back yard. At first, I saw nothing unusual, but then a movement beside our wood pile caught my attention and focused my gaze upon the tree line on the edge of the property. The deer was a solitary figure, grazing on some of the new undergrowth from where we had taken out some small shrubs. I think it was a doe, though a very young one. I saw no evidence of nubs that could grow to be antlers. The deer seemed quite content as it was munching right along while keeping a cautious ear attuned to the surroundings. My eyes darted ahead in the direction the deer was headed and saw something that stunned me.
Toulouse was sitting, probably on the flat surface of a left over tree stump, about five feet ahead of the deer. At first, I doubted that the deer had seen her, but as I stared, it became obvious that Toulouse was nonchalantly grooming her paws. The fact that she sat so close did not seem to faze the deer in the least as it ventured even closer as it grazed. Watching this unfold left me thoroughly engrossed in the scene. Over the course of a few minutes of grazing and grooming, the deer and Toulouse were finally less that two feet apart. There they stayed, Toulouse sitting and the deer standing over her as they gazed at each other for the better part of a minute. My only regret as I watched was that I could not hear if they made sounds to each other or themselves. How would a conversation between a deer and a cat commence? Somehow in my head I imagine my cat, aptly named for a Disney character herself, inquiring, “Would you happen to be the famous Bambi?”
I can think of several avenues the conversation could continue along, but I’m positive they both introduced themselves to the other. After a couple of minutes, I noticed both heads turn to gaze in the same direction and Toulouse moved forward about ten feet passing right beside the deer. When she sat down and resumed her watchful position, the deer then followed her footsteps and came to stand beside her about two feet away again. At this point, I finally noticed what had drawn their attention as Marie walked quietly down our property line towards the pair sharing the sunny conversation spot beside the wood pile. As she neared them, Marie caught the scent of the deer and became wary in her steps. For it’s part, the deer also became wary, with Toulouse being the only one of the three to remain relaxed. I strained forward at the window and could almost catch her words on the breeze as Toulouse uttered “Oh Bambi, don’t give her another thought! That’s my sister Marie and I promise she’ll behave.”
In turn I saw her acknowledge Marie and figured that sounded more like, “Do you mind? Why do you have to go everywhere I go? My new friend Bambi and I were just talking and now you’ve ruined it!”
Evidently, the curt greeting miffed Marie as she stalked to the wood pile and settled atop, staring at the deer from slitted eyes. With the frost settling around the conversation, the deer turned to head deeper into the cover of the woods. Before leaving though, it once more turned to Toulouse and the two acknowledged each other again. Maybe it was with a “I must be going, but perhaps we could chat again soon?! It was so nice to have met you Toulouse.” “And you also Bambi. Come back by anytime, I’m usually here!”
With that final exchange each went in separate directions, but with the knowledge now of what it is to take a walk on the wild side and strike up a friendship with someone from the other side!