Queen Beggar, a cat I adopted from the street when she was at least three or four years old, was grateful for her new home with me. She was a classic tiger cat, with lovely green eyes, and she was so distrustful that for the first four years I had her, she would not sit on my lap. Then one day, while I was working on the computer, I looked down and there she was. She was a lap cat forever after.
Despite not sitting on my lap in the beginning, Queen loved it when I picked her up and walked around the house with her, especially if looking out a door or window was part of our walk. She loved the outdoor world, except when it began to rain. I once saw her cross a yard at least 65 feet deep, with just four bounds between the back fence and the deck, when it began to rain.
In that house, where we lived when I found her, we had an enormous fenced back yard where I had plenty of flowers and a vegetable garden. When I found Queen, I already had two other cats, and all of them enjoyed that yard, where a large tree in the southwest corner provided shade. They loved playing in the yard, which butted up against an alley, so it was safer if they climbed the fence to get out, as Queen frequently did; not many cars passed there.
I knew she appreciated me because she brought me things. Usually it was something still alive and flapping its wings. I petted her, thanked her, and caught whatever wild thing it was and sent it back out to live a longer life than she might have wanted. I remember at least three birds caught and released that way. One was a Starling, who made a mighty fuss, and who really wanted to bite me.
When we moved to this house, on a busier street with many big dogs in the neighborhood, I wanted to curtail the amount of roaming my cats did. I had the deck built and turned it into a catio, an enclosed space that my cats, who then numbered five, had a safe place to play and enjoy the sun and fresh air. It is a good sized deck, 14′ by 22, and has walls of lattice and screen, with cat walks, so they can enjoy a nice view of the garden.
I expected that catio would be the end of Queen’s gifts of live birds and animals, but I underestimated her prowess. One day, she ran in the door from the catio, with something squeaking in her mouth.
“Queen!” I commanded, “Let me see what you have.” She opened her mouth to meow at me, and the chipmunk she’d had by the back of its neck, began running around her in my den. At that time, it was not a den; it was a garage that I used mostly for storage, and I had a refrigerator there that I used for party overload beverages and food. The little furry thing ran right in back of the refrigerator.
I was tired, so I shut the critter in the room for the night, closing the door to the catio, and I closed the door into the rest of the house. The next morning, I opened the door to the catio, after closing the door to the main house behind me. Armed with a broom, I shooed the little brown thing out from behind the refrigerator where it still was, and after running crazily around the room, it saw the open door. It was gone in a flash, and it managed to get off the deck/catio floor and back into the wild of my garden.
A year or so later, another chipmunk had the bad judgment to come onto the catio and be caught by Queen in the same way. This time, I was in the house, with the doors open to the catio, so Queen came looking for me to give me her gift. I saw her drop it, unharmed, as before. It ran around the living room before going for what was then my bedroom, off the living room.
It went straight under my largest dresser, a mammoth 13 drawer piece that I still have. By then, I had seen the benefits of having live traps. I had one that was squirrel sized, so I went out to my shed to get it, but not before closing the bedroom door, and shoving a rug into the space under the door.
I baited the trap with cashews and raisins. I put it in front of that dresser, and set it to trap the poor scared thing. I slept in the guest room that night and checked the next morning. The trap was still empty, so I shut the door, put my rug back in place, trapping it in that room for another several hours.
That night, when I checked again, it was in the cage, frantically running around in it, banging against the cage walls when it saw me. All of my cats wanted that chipmunk, and they followed me to the front door, hoping I might release it to them. They did considerable talking about it, especially Queen. I shut them inside as I went out the front door.
When I got outside, I carefully opened the trap. I had barely taken my hand away when the chipmunk vanished. It had run so fast that I did not even see it go. I think I saw it once months later, eying my newly built shed, looking to see if it would make a nice winter home for itself.
That was the last critter Queen caught for me. She was a good girl, who was my constant companion for the next several years. Then about four years ago, Queen had a stroke in my arms and died. I buried her in a hatbox and put her in the part of the flower garden that I can see from the north window of my bedroom. She is buried next to Carmen, another cat I had, who was her best friend. I have a tiled path over their graves, so I know exactly where they are. They are both in the little cat graveyard with their other cat friends who have passed on to kitty heaven. The scent of flowers has followed them.