• Sharon Stegall

Trixie the Trickster

I have a female Maine Coon cat named Trixie. She has a gorgeous warm brown, ticked tabby coat, giving her the look of a miniature mountain lion. A ticked tabby has no stripes on the body; picture a wild rabbit’s fur, but long-haired, on a cat with lynx-tipped ears, a muzzle that’s longer and broader than your average house cat, and a generally feral look to her face and you have Trixie.

Trixie belies her feral look with her incredibly sweet personality. She likes to make biscuits on the bed beside us at night, reaches out with her paw to be petted, and follows me around the house, trying to “help” with whatever I’m doing. She’s the perfect cat…almost.

Like all my cats, Trixie is kept strictly indoors for her safety. However, she has recently become obsessed with making a run for doors open to the outside. We have a kitchen counter area where we eat, collect mail, and where my laptop lives. As I sit here at the kitchen counter typing, the back door is about 6 feet away to my right. Another chair is between where I sit and the door.

Trixie has learned to crouch under the chair where it’s hard to see her and dash outside. We’ve tried a squirt bottle, stomping our feet, threatening her with a shoe in the face, picking her up…anything to get her away from her spot before opening the door. The problem is, we forget sometimes. The other problem is, Trixie is so stealth, she has been known to sneak outside undetected. We look outside, and there’s a Maine Coon cat, happily wandering about. When did that happen?

When a cat gets out at our house, it’s all hands on deck until the cat is caught. It was easier when the kids were home and we had more hands to help. Normally if an indoor-only cat gets out, it feels vulnerable in the wide-open space and either tries to get back in or takes cover under the deck. Not Trixie. For her, it’s a game, running from place to place in the yard, staying just out of reach of the human hands trying to end her fun. It can take up to 30 minutes to get Trixie back in the house and out of harms way. I have had other young female cats occasionally act like Trixie, but they tend to outgrow their lust for the great outdoors.

As difficult as Trixie is to capture, imagine how much worse it is after dark. Our house is surrounded by woods where large predators lurk and a domestic cat is an easy meal. At dusk one evening, I was calling the dogs to come inside and they weren’t listening. Distracted, I let the door stay slightly open as I went out on the deck to get the dogs’ attention. And as quick as that, Trixie was outside, running around to the back side of chicken coop. I let the dogs in, sighed and grabbed a laser pointer, thinking I could entice the little Trickster near me with a red dot. No good, she ignored the laser and crossed the line, over the stone wall and into the woods.

My laser pointer can also be used as a flashlight, albeit a weak one I found out. I followed Trixie into the dark woods, guided by the sound of her little paws walking on the leaves. Too dark for squirrels to be out, the only sounds in the woods were those of Trixie’s feet and my own. I thought about going back to the house to get my cell phone and a stronger flashlight, but I was afraid I’d lose Trixie’s location.

For the next 30 minutes or so, all that could be heard was Trixie’s paws and occasional meows about 30 feet ahead of me and my shoes crunching after her. My meager flashlight was only good enough to keep me from tripping over rocks and fallen limbs. It didn’t allow me to see the cat. I talked almost constantly to Trixie, sometimes sweetly and other times swearing at her. I wasn’t dressed for a cold fall night and was getting pretty disgusted with Trixie. I kept hoping that my husband would come home so I’d have help.

In the silence of the woods, I paused to listen for Trixie and try to locate her in the darkness. I heard her over to my right but couldn’t see her. Then I heard a four-footed animal trotting, about 30-40 feet away to my left. Maybe it was a deer, but my first thought was that it was coyote. The cadence of the footsteps wasn't that of a smaller creature like a fox or a raccoon. “Trixie?,” I whispered. “Did you hear that?”

I heard Trixie walking and could barely make out her form in the light. This time my little mountain lion was walking toward me. Apparently she was also spooked by the sound of another animal in the woods because she came right up to me. I picked Trixie up and carried her back to the house, almost crying with relief and lecturing her about the errors of her ways at the same time.

I would love to say that Trixie has learned her lesson and never tried to run out again, but that’s not true. Until she outgrows her sense of outdoor adventure, Trixie has to be sequestered in a room, where there are two doors between her and the beautiful, dangerous world beyond our house.

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