I remember the day I first rescued my human. I don’t remember anything about my real family, my mother and littermates, but we had been living at the base of an oak tree in some woods behind a small house. One day, when I was about a month old, I decided to climb up the tree and get a peek of the other side of that house. I was curious, for I had never seen anything past the house, only the trees and brush wherein I lived. I was resting on an outstretched branch, enjoying the view, and meowing, just for sport, you know.
Out of the house came my human. She looked up at me and said, “Oh you poor little thing!” I wonder why she thought that? I had everything under control. She hurried back to her house. She came back with a strange looking object which she leaned against my tree and started to climb up. You silly human, I thought, humans can’t climb trees! I let out a small meow to tell her this. Instead of backing away, she stretched out her hand to me. By this sign, I knew that she had gotten herself stuck in the tree and needed me to help her down. Silly human, I tried to warn you!
I accepted her offered hand and showed her how to get down. I guess that by this act, she was so grateful that she took me to the little house to live with her. She must have realized how much she needed my protection, for she took me everywhere with her from that day forward.
At first, she tried calling me all sorts of human-like things: Sweetie, Bella, Misty, and other distasteful names.
But she finally hit on one I liked: Duchess.
Life with humans isn’t so bad. Normally I wouldn’t eat those human pellets; I prefer fresh food. However, I figured it was her only way of showing her gratitude, so I succumbed.
I didn’t have an opportunity to render my services again for several months. Life was pretty boring for a while, and I was beginning to enjoy it. After all, a cat deserves a break after keeping guard over one’s human every day. But that changed one summer night, when my human, Julie, was going to go out with her fiancé, Jerry.
At first, I didn’t think I was going to like him, but he turned out to be all right. ’Course I had to investigate him thoroughly, since I am my human’s protector. Every time he comes to see her, he gives me a nice head rub which I enjoy immensely. I think he’s going to be okay, if he doesn’t rub me the wrong way.
So, on this particular night, he was going to take her to a firework show in the park (of all places to go!). Of course, my human never goes anywhere without me; she even takes me to the law office where she works. All the humans there realize what a smart cat I am, and they adore me.
Anyway, we went to the park. I’m not much for those human noise makers, so I trotted off to do some exploring. We went to the park quite often, so Julie let me wander wherever I please. She wasn’t worried about my leaving her; I always came to get her when it was time to go home. Normally, I didn’t leave my human alone, knowing how trouble-prone she is, but since Jerry was there, I figured everything was all right.
I was hot on the trail of a chirping cicada when in the distance, I heard my human make a strange noise, and I knew she was in trouble. I bounded over to the park bench where I had left them. Julie and Jerry were standing by a tree, and underneath the bench, stretched out to its full length, was a sulking copperhead.
Julie pointed to me and said, “Look! Duchess will get it!” But Jerry hushed her and replied, “That snake’s too big for any cat!” Just when I was beginning to like him!
The snake slithered across the grass, with its back to me, and I let out a low growl.
He turned to me, opened his mouth to reveal his fangs, and hissed the loudest hiss I have ever heard in my entire life.
Before either of us could realize what was happening, I sprang on him, grabbing him right behind his pointed head. The snake twisted in my grasp, and I gave him a heavy shake. His whip-like tail thrashed against the wind, snapping in the air.
The snake’s diameter was larger than my little mouth could handle, and I was forced to release him, sending him flying through the air. He landed right-side-up (I thought only cats did that!) and aimed his beady eyes at me. His jaw was locked in an open position, his neck half-way ripped open. I circled him, my growl increasing in volume. He swished his tail, though in his injured position, that was about all he could do. I flipped him over and put my front paw on his belly near his wound. Under the weight of my whole body resting on that paw, the snake breathed its last breath.
I looked up with satisfaction at the humans. Afraid of a little snake!