When Toto was younger, she was an agile hunter. She would fly across the lawn and nab unsuspecting birds in mid-air. At the old house, she would sit beneath the rhododendron, and then make a dash and leap to catch birds at the feeder. At night, she would spring gracefully from the ground to the nightstand, not making a sound.
But now she is no longer graceful. She’s almost fourteen years old. Somewhere along the way — about the time we moved from Canby to Oak Grove — her agility evaporated, seemingly overnight. Now it’s a challenge for her to leap from the floor to the couch. She’s clumsy — all claws. It’s sad to see, because I know that deep in her heart she still wants to be a hunter.
This morning we’re sitting in the parlor, writing. Well, I’m writing — Toto is keeping me company. She’s watching the birdfeeder outside. A screechy jay keeps landing on it, declaring his woes to the world. Smaller birds stop in once and a while.
Toto finds this all very interesting, and she’s been practicing that special cat cackle that means, “Birds, I will eat you.” But of course she won’t eat them. She no longer has the agility. I know it’s probably just my imagination, but I think this makes her sad.
Sitting above her, latched to the window frame, is the fake crow that Kris gave me for Christmas. I’m not sure what the crow’s intended purpose is, but I use it to torment the cats. “Oh look! A bird in the house! And it’s coming after you!” Toto, however, isn’t scared of it — indeed, she finds it fascinating.
After cackling at the jay at the feeder for a couple minutes, she’ll look up at the crow. She’ll stand on her hind legs, lean against the frame, and reach for the fake bird. Toto wants it. But she doesn’t put much energy into. I think her bones hurt or something. Maybe she has arthritis. I feel so sad for her.