Wild Kingdom (The Home Version)
Episode # 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!


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