# 47: The Precocious Malibu Housecat
In the brutally unforgiving wilderness that is Malibu, California, the
common house cat (felis catus) lives a tenuous existence, liable
to become either predator or prey in the blink of an eye. Here, a 10-month-old
-- affectionately dubbed "Maizie" by the film crew, for the
striking pattern of her coat -- prepares to test her fate. Having become
proficient at dispensing small rodents, she considers herself ready to
pursue bigger game: a mother/daughter pair of mule deer. In her mind,
she draws on the vestigial instinctual traces of her forebearers, the
big cats of the jungle and savannah. Which deer shall she go after, the
doe on the right or her straggling daughter on the left? For a cat of
this tender age, the choice could mean the difference between a tasty
morsel and swift kick in the jaw -- a lesson she'd not soon forget. All
too often in the wild, curiosity can be a merciless killer.
Before Maizie can decide which entree of delectable venison to tuck into,
an unexpected thing happens: the daughter deer, still a youngster herself,
decides to investigate this strange new potential playmate. Or perhaps
she is astonished to encounter what appears to be mountain lion of such
remarkably diminuitive proportions. Curiousity, that stone killer, wields
a double-edged sword. For her part, Maizie ventures forth undaunted, doubtless
overcome by her ancestral lust for fresh flesh on the hoof. The two face
off against each other with all the tenacity of basketball guards in the
backcourt -- though it's unclear who controls the imaginary ball. Meanwhile,
the mother deer strikes a pose of idyll detachment, knowing that, if her
daughter is to survive the complex hazards of this coastal biome, she
must learn to fend for herself.
The brave little ungulate, not aware of how closely related her family
tree is to that of the lowly rodent, moves to turn the tables in what
has become a literal game of cat and mouse; now she herself stalks forth
as though emulating a stealthy carnivore. Her brash gambit proves too
disconcerting for Maizie, who suddenly bolts -- perhaps remembering that
she has a fresh bowl of kibble awaiting within the sanctuary of her humans'
domicile. For the moment, it appears that the deer has emerged victorious
in this round of Nature's deadly game.
It is said that "cat's have nine lives." In fact, this is not
true; actually, studies have shown that cats can have as many as twenty-seven
lives, and that frequently they will live several of them at the same
time. Not incidentally, this accounts for the fact that in the British
Isles there are twice as many cat-owners as there are cats. So, while
little Maizie may have just spent one of her many lives, she remains undeterred.
As the deer saunters away to savor the bragging rights she just earned
in this brief tournament, Maizie spots her chance to take advantage of
the deer's apparent complacency. Will she move in for the kill and stake
her claim as this locality's own little Queen of the Beasts? Stay tuned.
COMING UP AFTER THE BREAK: Maizie's twin sister Puzzle stalks a different
species of prey. See whether the Lakers' lackadaisical rebounding will
be any match for her as she cleans up the glass!