Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Close Encounter of the Feline Kind

Kittens are pretty clueless, but they're exceedingly cute and curious and they can run fast when they have to. We found this out today on our walk when a white kitten with dark patches, I'd say seven or eight months old at the most, came trotting toward us to say hello. Baxter froze. He crouched onto his stomach (stealth position) and then began crawling in the grass, toward the kitten, with his belly not more than 2-3 inches off the ground...

The kitten didn't seem to realize this was a threatening gesture on Baxter's part and he continued to approach us. I wrapped the leash tightly around my hand and grabbed Baxter's collar (fortunately I had the gentle leader on him today), hoping to avoid a confrontation. The kitten paused inquisitively, then continued. "Perhaps this is a fresh opportunity for Baxter to make friends with a kitty who is not already jaded around dogs," I thought to myself. Perhaps Baxter just needs a cute, clueless kitten to break the ice.

Well, ice is what the kitten least at first. Baxter froze as the kitten walked right up to him and started rubbing his head and body against Baxter's leg. I reached over and petted the kitten and then I carressed Baxter gently and said soothing things like "Isn't that a nice kitty?" Baxter seemed to be in a state of shock. He didn't move a muscle. He just stood there motionless, as if under a spell, watching the kitten out of the corner of his eye. I maintained a firm grip on the leash and wondered how long this would go on. The kitten sniffed Baxter up and down and then, after thoroughly rubbing his scent on Baxter's leg, turned to walk away nonchalantly.

I think it was something about the flick of the tail as the cat turned away, but the spell was broken. Baxter waited until the cat got a few feet away (outside striking distance perhaps), and then he lunged. The chase was on. The kitten hissed and high-tailed it behind a bush while Baxter tore loose from my grip, knocked me over and pulled to the end of his leash. I ended up spread-eagle on the ground with my hands in front of me, one still holding the end of the leash. It must have been a funny scene.

Baxter seemed to be quite satisfied that he had scared the kitten away, and we continued with our walk. But we'll never be able to pass that spot again without Baxter going on high alert, I'm sure.

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