Cat Kharma

I have read that cats are the only animals to have domesticated themselves.  I have no proof that that is true, but it seems more than plausible.  What cat would turn down a free meal and a warm lap?  Provided, of course, that there isn’t something else they would prefer to be doing at that moment…

Have you ever noticed that cats own the internet?  Sure, there’s funny dog videos and stupid people videos, but don’t even think about googling “cat videos” without having days available to scan through the latest posts.

Speaking of which, did you see the video where the cat chases off a dog that appears to be attacking a small child?

That video demonstrates something peculiar to cats — our house cats differ very little from their less pampered relatives in the wild.  Genetically they are virtually identical.  Ditto for their behaviour.

When you watch a house cat stalk its prey, it’s an easy transition to watching a cheetah stalk a gazelle.  There’s the low crouch, the slinking steps, the narrowed eyes, then the lightening attack.  If the attack is successful, there is immense pride (on behalf of the cat) in believing no other beast could have pulled off this hunt.  If the attack is unsuccessful, there is ultimate disdain — as in “I got up close and realized it didn’t look very tasty,” or “Nah, I was just playing, not really hungry right now.”

I photographed this cheetah near Ndutu Lake in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area.  He and his brother gave every appearance of being on a hunt, but in the end they curled up in a shady spot and snoozed away the morning.  They were still snoozing in the early evening when a lost baby wildebeest wandered into their sights.

But even then, like all cats, cheetah do things on their own terms, and apparently their inner clocks said it wasn’t yet dinner time.  The wildebeest lay down in some shade maybe 20 meters away, and while the cheetah sat up to watch it, they eventually fell back to sleep.

It was an easy meal, but at the time, sleep was, apparently, more important.  Or maybe this was simply a case of two cheetah playing mind games with their dinner… and us photographers.  

You can view several of my "cat" images by clicking here.

- Mike