Growing up, we had a cat named Elizabeth. She was solid black and had a unique meow that we could recognize without seeing her. She was the best hunter I ever knew. We lived at the edge of town with vineyards and a canal as our neighbors. This was the perfect environment for Liz to practice her craft.
She was part Siamese. No one can remember where we got her.
She liked to show us her prey. Whatever she had killed would end up at our back door. We became well trained in the art of carefully opening the door before walking out. Her modus operandi included carrying the creature home in her mouth, carefully positioning herself and said creature through the wrought iron gate leading into the backyard. Climbing up the stairs to the back door, laying her bounty on the mat and then meowing until we acknowledged her feat. Once she received the praise due her, she would feast on her victim, sometimes leaving innards, such as the liver, on the mat. She didn’t have a propensity to hunt the same type of animal. She brought home birds, mice, Jack rabbits, and lizards. You would think that we would be grossed out by such behavior, however, we weren’t. Perhaps we became desensitized.
Liz was also quite promiscuous. We estimate that in her 16 years she gave birth to at least 40 kittens. She would still be nursing when she would go into heat again. Cats from far and wide would visit our property. As a result, her kittens varied in coloring and size. But she was an excellent mother. Each litter was treated with the same regiment. When they were old enough, Liz would walk them, as a group, across the street to the vineyards. They would follow her similar to how ducklings follow their mother. In the vineyards, Liz taught them the fine art of hunting. Each and every kitten of hers knew exactly how to hunt before being adopted. Word got out about Liz’s abilities and we never needed any effort in finding homes for her brood.
Now you might think that we were irresponsible letting her have so many kittens. However, in our defense, we did have her spayed. Twice. Yes, twice. The vet removed her ovaries, and, after her surgical recovery, she got pregnant again. Apparently, the Wonder Cat had three ovaries. My mother was furious.
After she was spayed, Liz would leave us for long periods of time. Weeks, sometimes months. We were never able to figure out where she went. But based on her soft paws and well-kept coat, we assumed she had another family. When she would return to us, we usually heard her meow before we saw her. It was always a big event. We would all come running out to show her how much she was missed.
One day, I heard her in our front yard, under a thick cover of junipers. I couldn’t see her and she wouldn’t come out. I got my mother and father and we worked at locating her within the shrubbery. With some effort, we found her. She had been hit by a car. She was bloody and one of her eyes was bulging unnaturally. I didn’t want to touch her, but my father told me that she needed love now more than ever. I held her as gently as I could while my dad got the car. We took her to the vet and knew the inevitable was about to happen. And yet, being a Wonder Cat, she fully recovered, because she was Liz.
When Mom became an empty nester, she and Liz would sit on the back porch step. Liz liked to be petted but you could feel her bones because she became so thin. One morning Mom found her in the backyard by the kitchen window. She had passed away unceremoniously.
Liz was the best cat ever. Decades later, we still talk about her vivacious personality.