Neena The Lizard Chaser

Teresa P. Thompson

© Copyright 2003 by Teresa P. Thompson

Photo of Neena. 

I suddenly caught a glimpse of what resembled a huge ball of fur scurrying past the glass kitchen door, as I set the table for dinner. It looked as though Neena, my three-year- old cat was at it again...chasing lizards. That’s all she seems to be interested in these days.

 She began her hunt soon after my husband placed some old railroad crossties at the top of the hill just above our house. The crossties began attracting the lizards and soon Neena was in for the hunt of her life!

A domestic short hair cat, Neena has always had a passion for hunting anything that moved. She used to torture the birds that landed in the yard, waiting patiently for them to land on “her turf.” She would hunker down on the grass slightly hiding her body in the shadows of the small brush awaiting her prey. There were times that she would spend hours in the hot sun only to end up empty handed. Somehow the birds seemed to always out smart her. Perhaps they had gotten keen to her strategies.

Now it was as though she had turned her attention completely away from the birds and was now fixated on the small black stripped lizards. Perhaps they were much easier prey for her to catch than the birds had been. At least the lizards couldn’t fly away. They were forced to scurry across the grass and down into the crevices of the crossties.

Many times I would find myself mesmerized just watching Neena chase the small helpless creatures. She would wait for hours until one poked his tiny head out from under one the crossties. She would then proceed to hunker onto her belly not moving a muscle until the lizard was brave enough to slide his entire self into the path of this “vicious predator.”

Although Neena was a harmless big ball of fur to me and the rest of my family, she surely must have looked awfully vicious to the poor lizard as she leapt upon him, pinning his body to the ground with her paw.

Some of the lizards seemed to get lucky and escape her torment, but then there were the ones who actually got caught in the fatal trap of her sharp claws. Those unfortunate creatures were left to be tormented and tortured until Neena’s amusement was worn out and she decided to go straight for the “kill.”

This one particular day as I set the dinner table I became caught up in “the chase” as I watched Neena catch the lizard between her sharp “dagger-like” teeth and then ease up on him just a bit at a time. It was as though she was daring him to try and escape. I began to feel sorry for this ugly little creature as he made several unsuccessful attempts to get away.

Neena must have worn this poor lizard down because even when she would release him from her mouth he just lay there on the concrete floor of the patio was if he wanted her to “finish him off.”

Although I had never been one to give very much thought or compassion to the lizard species, my heart suddenly went out to this poor fellow. Here he was caught in a “no win situation” and it was obvious that he was expecting to die at any moment. He seemed to have no fight or motivation to get away left inside his small body.

“Neena,” I yelled, attempting to make her focus her attention on me.

I was hoping that this would give the tiny lizard a chase to make the great escape that he so desperately needed in order to save himself from becoming Neena’s “before dinner snack.”

She seemed to become suddenly annoyed with my voice as she turned her nose up at me in a vain manner. It was as if she were telling me to “mind my own business.”

I could hear the crunch of the lizard’s body between her teeth as she snatched him from the floor and scurried under the patio table. She looked as though she was daring me to make another move or the lizard would be squashed.

“Let him go, girl,” I pleaded as I shut the door behind me and made my way closer to where she was hiding. “You don’t have to do that. I am getting ready to feed you.”

Neena and I both knew that she wasn’t doing this to the lizard for food. We both knew that it was either for the fun or the hunt of the situation. She seemed to have gleam in her eyes as she watched me come closer to her.

Just as I was about to reach for her, she opened her mouth to let the lizard go. Suddenly it was as though the lizard’s strength had built up enough for it to make a dive for the grass just beyond the patio. I watched in amazement as the lizard scurried up the hill and straight into one of the tiny crevices of the crossties.

I was perhaps even more amazed at watching Neena’s amazement. She looked as though she had lost the hunt of her life as she starred in amusement as the creature disappeared under the crossties. She also gave me a look of disapproval for my interference with her prey.

“Girl, you are something else,” I said as I patted her on the head.

Her slight brush against my leg and the soft sound of her “Meow” told me that she had already forgiven me for causing her to lose her prey for the day. And as I turned to go inside the house I noticed the look on her face as she glanced up at the crossties.

The smirk on her face seemed to say, “There’s always tomorrow for me to chase those ugly little fast-moving creatures.”

As I watched Neena curl up outside the kitchen door, I knew that those lizards were in for the chase of their lives, because it is certainly Neena’s nature to hunt and I suppose it is their nature to be hunted.

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