It’s that time of year again. The last remnants of winter melt away as the heat of spring hits the Bay Area and that means I’m going to be picking up dead things for the next few months.
That’s the problem living with four outdoor cats. I usually have to make emergency trips to the local wildlife reserve in Walnut Creek. I used to tell them, “my cat caught this bird, can you save it?” After being chewed out by staff members on repeated occasions for keeping outdoor cats, I now lie, telling them, “I found this bird on my lawn and it looks to have been attacked by cats and aren’t people who let their cats out terrible people?” Then, I slyly slip a guilt-driven donation into the donation box. To our cats’ credit, they’ve never iced any rare or protected birds. The birdiologists usually say something like, “Oh, this is a cow bird, it steals nests from other birds.”
Tegan is our reigning champion, but he’s got competition in the form of the very diminutive Chase. Despite her size, Chase is extremely fast. Last week, she dragged a rat close to her own body weight through the cat flap. I managed to wrestle the rat away from her and her kill was in one piece, but I wasn’t too impressed that the second I picked it up, it began twitching. Watching me drop her latest trophy in the trash, Chase gave me that look that said, “I’ll get you back.” And she did about two hours later by bringing a live Jaybird into the house. I got this away from her before she killed it and for once, the bird was in good shape and I released it with no harm done.
Sadly, Chase’s double attack marks the beginning of what I expect to be a bloody summer. Last year was bad. It was like the cats got together and decided to put on a feline retrospective of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. Sadly, Bug played the role of the hapless Shelly Levene to a tee by bringing in virtually no kills. But Tegan and Chase were in fine form. They were both bringing something in every couple of hours. Their record was seven in one morning, consisting of five rats, one bird and half a lizard. I have to admit it was driving me mental. I’m not like Julie. I’m pretty squeamish, so I take no pleasure from picking up dead things.
Things might be a little better this year as Julie finally took down our bird feeder. It did seem like a cruel thing to do to the birds. But I’m astounded by the sheer volumes of vermin that exist in my neighborhood. There seems to be a never-ending supply.
Anyway, I’m ready for the long, deadly season ahead. It should be icky, but on the bright side, we’re the only people on the street without any molehills in our yard.
We have three cats who all stay indoors. I suspect they wouldn’t begin to know how to hunt for food in the wild, even if their lives depended on it. Cats learn hunting skills from their mothers, and our cats haven’t learned anything at all about it.
Actually all our kitties (except for Marley–pictured) were raised by us as they were rescues. So we were their moms, although Tegan played mommy to the two youngest. Not sure what we did to turn them into efficient killers…
Perhaps they’ve been sneaking peeks at your stories, Simon …