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Monday, May 6, 2013

Elsa Clair, the Great Black-and-White Hunter

As soon as I grab the leashes, they come running.

The cats.

The dogs come, too, but the cats get there first. Elsa Clair skids into the laundry room, brakes screeching (I swear!) as she makes a snap-quick turn to leap onto the counter. Calvin knows his sister has her paw on the pulse of all things interesting to cats, so he's not far behind. Athena, keenly aware of her dignity, arrives after the dogs and all their inconvenient large paws and waggy tails have settled into well-behaved Sits.

Jasper, Lilah and Tucker are currently being trained to WALK across the deck, and WALK down the stairs, instead of running like crazed derby horses when the gates are released, so leashes and treats are required equipment every time we go outside.

There's always a chance that a snack will fall from the treat bag as we're getting ready, which is one of the reasons the cats materialize when I'm about to take the dogs outside. However, the true cause for all the excitement is that when I open the door, Something might get inside. Its a sure sign that spring is here when the warmth brings out the insects and the cats turn into Bug Hunters.

There are several opportunities for the winged creatures to enter the house, beginning with the first time  I open the door for the dogs. Elsa Clair stands on the corner of the counter, neck stretched out, eyes wide, plaintive mrows escaping from under her quivering pink nose. Calvin peers over her shoulder.

Anything bugging you?

I come back in a few minutes later to hang up the leashes. If an invader has made it past the storm door,  Elsa Clair is instantly on the hunt. Calvin knows something is up, and is looking puzzled, but stands ready to steal his sister's prize. Athena takes up position on the washer or dryer, where she has the best view of the action. She likes to watch.

After dark, the porch light just outside the back door attracts the most fascinating prey. Almost every night, a twitchy lamp-blind moth slips in the house and sketches an erratic flight through the laundry room. As long as it stays on or very near the ceiling, it will live a few minutes. Once it comes below a certain height, it's demise is a near certainty.

If I can reach it, and the poor creature is harmless, I'll capture it gently and release it back into the wilds of suburban living. When I'm successful, the cats glare at me dolefully, not quite believing that I ruined their sport.

I can always tell when Elsa Clair has her sights on a bug. She narrates the process with a series of meerows, wows and trilling purrs that are off the charts on the Cat Sounds Adorability Rating Scale. Her mews and calls always sound like she's asking questions, as the tone of each utterance ends in an upnote of utter cuteness.

I have been attempting to record these sweet sounds for quite a while, but have been mostly unsuccessful.  Either Elsa Clair decides her soliloquy is over, or the bug is caught by the time I grab my cell phone, or--the most common occurance--some other sound like a barking dog (as if that ever happens in my house), interferes with the recording.

Below is a video with just a taste of Elsa Clair's adorable I'm Hunting a Bug song. The clip starts slow, but is worth watching in it's 22-second entirety. Please ignore the dog sound of Jasper slurping in the background.


  1. Holy toledo! Elsa Clair certainly gets some air in that leap. I love how Calvin looks stunned and confused after she lands. How multiply that into 4 kittens and imagine the trail of destruction that can leave behind.

  2. Holy toledo! Elsa Clair certainly gets some air in that leap. I love how stunned and confused Calvin looks after she lands. Now make that 4 kittens and you can imagine the trail of destruction that entails.

  3. Faraday: *raises paw* canz we get a copy of that Cat Sounds Adorability Rating Chart? We wanna wave it front of mommy's nose and point out a few things to her. She needz ta unnerstand bug chasing is SErIOUS BIZNESS!