Anyone who’s ever owned a cat (or been owned by one) has on at least one occasion been honored— unexpectedly and, from a human perspective, even less appreciated—with some kind of previously viable life form. These offerings are generally laid out with justifiable feline pride on the doormat at the entrance to one’s home. That doormat, designed as a barrier to collect unwanted debris before it enters the house, can become a kind of funereal altar for the recently deceased. The remains may be in the form of a number of species. In my experience they have included birds, mice, large beetles, several kinds of lizards, small snakes, and baby rabbits. They may arrive fully intact (my preference) or in varying stages of dismemberment (the front half only of the aforementioned baby rabbit, poor thing).
All these “trophies”, of course, reflect the hunting prowess passed down through generations of kitty’s larger and wilder ancestors. One can barely help but admire the predatory agility retained by these diminutive descendants of the saber-toothed cat and their extant big cat relatives—lions, leopards, tigers, etc. I don’t know if cats consciously expect praise for their achievements but it feels wrong somehow if we neglect to compliment them for their thoughtfulness in sharing their success with us. Still, a “Good job, Tiger,” and a pat on the head do seem to add a little panache to their step.
Regarding the doormat: Not all of Tabby’s offerings stop there. If your home has a pet door, as does mine, you may find the great outdoors has a way of gaining entry to even the more secluded areas of your home.
What the Cat Brought In
One night a few years ago as I was preparing for bed I made one last visit to the bathroom. As I returned to the bedroom I noticed something about my bed had changed. At the very center of the foot of the bed lay a small dark object that only a moment ago was not there. “What on earth . . .?” I wondered as I approached for a closer look. “Uh-h-h-h-h!” My breath literally was taken away. There, lying belly up, measuring about four inches long, was the dark gray corpse of a mole! I was stunned speechless and still trying to catch my breath. Now, I had never seen a real, live—well, real—mole in my life. They had always been underground. I remember my father trying to outwit them when I was growing up in Michigan. And my landlord was locked in an on-going, losing battle with them when I lived in Arizona. Our collective “pussycat posse” took part, alertly staring downward as they listened and waited for the elusive enemy to show itself. Meanwhile, little moguls continued to spring up, turning the lawn into a polka-dotted fabric of green and black. And still, I never saw a mole above ground.
(Kind of cute, isn’t he? Cuter than a Chinese Crested Dog anyway. See post of April 30, 2012)
So it was a shock to see one of these little tunnelers in the flesh. I had always thought of them as bigger, about the size of a rabbit or at least a squirrel. But there he lay, not much longer than my thumb, tiny eyes all but invisible, little buck teeth exposed to the light, and with just a nub of a tail. And those feet: tiny cream-colored pads of webbed toes all splayed, making the little guy look for all the world like a miniature version of Al Jonson doing a rendition of “Mammy” in “The Jazz Singer”.
By now, having regained my composure, I retrieved a Ziploc bag, gingerly deposited the lifeless body inside, and committed the makeshift body bag and its contents to the dark recesses of the garbage can.
(Stay tuned—more moles are on the way.)
©2011 The Wit’s End Scribbler