Kitteh contest: Leo and Curaca

July 6, 2011 • 5:24 am

Jonathan Losos, whom I saw at the Evolution 2011 meetings, submitted his cats Leo and Jake (Leo has since gone to Ceiling Cat). Losos, as some of you know, is a evolutionary ecologist, a professor at Harvard University, and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology.  He’s also author of the definitive book on the lizard genus Anolis, Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree: Ecology and Adaptive Radiation of Anoles.  (Anolis contains the little green chameleon, A. carolinensis, that many of us had as kids.)  It’s not surprising, then, that both of Jon’s photos contain reptiles as well as kittehs.

What more could a reptile enthusiast want? Both Leo (the Abyssinian) and Curaca (the Missouri Alley) were rescue cats. Curaca was saved from poisoning by a mean restauranteur in St. Louis’s Central West End, whereas Leo was obtained from the clutches of a veterinarian who had lost interest in the runt-of-the-litter once he had sold Leo’s normal-sized littermates. Both grew into fine, worldly and affectionate cats (and we miss Leo dearly). One attribute we never expected is that the pair were first rate herpetol-o-cats. When we lived in the St. Louis suburb of University City, the cats started bringing in Line Snakes (Tropidoclonion lineatum), which we had not known lived in the area. Often, Leo would bring in a snake and drop it on the hardwood floor. Usually, the snake would wrap itself in circular coils, and then Leo would proceed to bat it around “air hockey” style as the snake would glide easily and quickly across the smooth floor surface, Leo hot in pursuit. At other times, the snakes would show up-alive and unharmed-throughout the house. Once, my wife let out a scream of surprise when, while making the bed in the morning, one fell out of the sheets. Alerted to the presence of these serpents in our local environs, I endeavored to return them to their homes, but never could figure out where the cats were finding them.

And here’s Leo with a very large snake:

It’s a boa constrictor. Owned by my brother-in-law, who raised it from a baby. Jake was 8.5 feet long. So, not really a risk, because Jake’s business end was 8.5 feet away, and I was standing by if Jake so much as turned in that direction (which he didn’t); but, for the record, I’m sure he could have made a meal of Leo if he had the inclination and give a chance. We thought it would be interesting to see what Jake would do if we put him in the lawn, given that he’d never been outside of a house, except on my brother-in-law’s shoulder. He acted like he was born to it, and just went slithering along. This was in our front yard, and passing cars came to a screeching halt when they saw a large snake in the yard. I should say, we were snake-sitting when my sister and bro-in-law went on a long trip, perhaps their honeymoon (don’t quite recall the details).


20 thoughts on “Kitteh contest: Leo and Curaca

  1. I wonder how many more snakes simply became snacks? A few times, I’ve spotted fence lizards in the house…well, technically, they were in the house. What I spotted was their tails hanging out of Baihu’s mouth….

    Anyway, life’s been interesting at Chez Goren. My ISP sold its DSL business over the weekend and I still only have about 5% connectivity. WEIT just happened to come up…we’ll see if it stays up long enough for me to post.

    And Baihu spent the night at Teh Ebil Doktor…ideopathic cystitis. He was blocked, but just barely. He should be just fine, once he gets over the scariness of it all.

    I’ll hit “Post Comment” now, rather than push my luck….


    1. Someone else using DSL in this day 7 age? My, my, my.

      It has been my experience that kittehs are generally fine going to the vet until the first time they have to stay overnight. Good luck from now on. Love to Baihu.

      1. Well, the cable installers should be out here this afternoon, so no more DSL for me ‘twould seem. (Just business-class internet, no phone, no TV.)

        This particular Ebil Doktor also does boarding, and Baihu spent a couple weeks there (one week at a time) last summer…so he’s already well aware of what the carrier (and the closet it lives in) means…especially if he’s feeling under the weather….

        As I type…it seems to be a race between who’ll call first: the cable installers or the Doktor…and, knowing my luck, both’ll be at the exact same time….

        <sigh /gt;


        1. Well, that explains your absence! I’ve missed you. 😀

          Poor Baihu!

          @daveau–some of us have no alternative but DSL…still lots of boonies in the USA…

          1. Baihu’s doing well. He’s napping in one of his favorite spots — about four feet away from me, on top of a pile of comforters in front of the office’s window. His stomach is full and — more importantly — his bladder is not. I’m sure he’ll move to his other favorite napping place in the office — wrapped ’round my arm — in an hour or three.

            I’m hoping the last of the setup for the cable connection will be done this morning…though it might be another day or so before I get a chance to do everything I need to do at my end. In the mean time, I got a T-Mobile WiFi hotspot that, so far, is working as advertised.

            I hate to think of all the money I’m spending right this moment on network connectivity…but, seeing how I telecommute, it’s *far* cheaper to spend this money than to not work….


            1. Good luck & goodspeed on all fronts!

              (Please don’t let Baihu tell our kitteh there’s such a thing as a “pile of comforters!”)

  2. Had a Scarlet Kingsnake in the fireplace about a month ago (it slithered down the unscreened chimney to investigate a bird’s nest above the smoke vent). One of our Maine Coons kept staring at it while remaining completely motionless. Next time an introduction will be made on the hardwood floor instead of paying to have the faux “coral” snake removed.

    Ceiling Cat cast downz evil snake.

  3. Hey Jonathan — Good to hear from you – Long while since you left this area.
    Gorgeous cats!
    And, intriguing lined snake story.

  4. What lovely cats. Sorry to hear that Leo is gone.

    Our kitteh Fiona is a crazy snake chaser from way back. We don’t have any where we live, but there are plenty of garter snakes in Door County, WI, where we often vacation.

  5. Here in Florida my two cats have regular encounters with snakes – a huge coachwhip caused a rout and shameful sauve qui peut retreat by both cats and since then a small black racer was only examined with slitted eyes from a distance and even a tiny ringneck presented for a sniff induced looks of outrage and slow dignified tail-twitching retreats to the house. Inside, I have found that a rubber snake across the threshold of my office now prevents loutish, secretive invasions to knock books off shelves in my absence.

  6. I live in Florida and out in the country… I found a fairly long snake skin under my kitchen sink once and another time noiced the tail of a live one disappearing under my bed. I was on the phone with a friend at the time and she said I couldn’t sleep in that room…rather excitedly…but I haven’t slept in the guest room and I didn’t want to…so I looked under the bed…no snake…so I went to bed in my own room and slept well. I figure snakes in the house mean I won’t be bothered with mice!

  7. What gorgeous and intriguing cats! Snake “air hockey”–lol!

    We had a cat that hunted most anything, including frogs and toads (!), but never snakes, that I knew of, anyway; thankfully, as we’ve had massasauga rattlers in the garage before…

    And w00h00! The Anolis book is available in paperback!

  8. Nice! I haven’t had a snake in the house for years. Curaca looks like the more slender of my two grey cats. They were ferals and started out bringing in earthworms to eat, which makes me think their mum used to eat them. They graduated to weather stripping (which they drag in triumphantly but don’t eat) without ever bagging a snake, so I don’t think we have any in urban Toronto.

  9. My cats have never seen a snake, as far as I know; but they are wary of snake-like objects and one of them in particular will jump sideways at the wrong glimpse of anything long and slender and flexible.

  10. Interesting and funny. I can’t believe Leo wants to tango with the boa constrictor. I never figured before that small snakes would be the perfect cat toy, but they do resemble the plastic strips on milk jug caps and my cats love those.

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