Friday, July 25, 2008

Sympathy for Ms. Kitty

When Kit first posted about her cat "Maxie The Magnificent" becoming a killer, I didn't have the words to comfort her- I'm glad Ogre was able to say what I couldn't. But I knew that post was coming back when she wrote about not being able to keep Maxie on the porch.

Ginj and I have always had cats; our current clowder of four is the smallest we've had. The eldest, Laurie, I've written about before. The youngest, Monica, is another rescue. The two in between are brothers we got from a local pet store. I had gone in for a bag of cat food, and stopped to admire a pair of pure black kittens. The manager told me that they were, at six months, too old to sell because they were no longer cute- if I'd buy a 25 lb bag of food for each, he'd throw them in for free! Appalled at his attitude, we made the deal.

One of the brothers was small and sleek; the other tall and frizzy haired- naturally, we named them Simon and Garfunkle. Poor kids- after spending the first six months of their lives in a cage, they were afraid to come out from under the desk for two days. Then, realizing it was OK to come out, they started racing around the house at top speed, spinning out and hitting the wall like NASCAR, then racing off in another direction. They were (and are) inseparable... cleaning each other's faces, then engaging in Greco-Roman wrestling, then falling asleep in each other's arms, only to pick up the match where they had left off when they awake. And, like Topsy, they just kept growing.

Here, facing the camera, and weighing in at 11 lbs., is "little" brother Simon.

And the Behemoth filling the overstuffed leather chair is Garfunkle.

Despite being fixed, they- like Maxie- could not be kept inside or on the porch once they reached adulthood. They, like Maxie, soon proved to be killers. If you're a human, they're the sweetest things you can imagine. Garfunkle will leap into my lap, pull on the cuff of my shirtsleeve until my arm is bent, then climb into the crook of my arm and fall asleep, his purrs making my chest resonate like a guitar body. But if you're any life form of five lbs. or less, you're dead. I've seen Garfunkle run, leap, and pluck a flying bird right out of the air.

The lesson is to learn to love things as they are, not as we would like them to be. Cats are not small dogs, nor fuzzy children, nor animated stuffed toys- they are the most ferocious killing machines Mother Nature has ever unleashed into the underbrush, their ecological niche. We must remember that their affection for us, while genuine, is a perversion of their pack (pride?) instincts- we haven't tamed nor civilized them, we have merely stepped into one or more roles that would otherwise have been filled by elder cats in a pride.

But if it's any consolation, Ms. Kitty, there is a side benefit. I don't know if there is some kind of vermin grapevine, or if the smell of real killers is subtly different or what, but there hasn't been a rat, mouse, bat, cockroach, or any other form of vermin inside the house in years. (unless one of Les Freres Noir brought it in, already broken) You watch- I bet within a few months, the aura of Maxie around your house will make it a vermin-free zone.


ms. kitty said...

Oh, Joel, what a wonderful post! I appreciated it so much and am thankful for your reassurance that cats are just natural-born hunters. The pictures of the Boys are just great. Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Between signmom and myself, we have 7 of these fabulous creatures (though not all yet in the same location, I'm heading down there for two weeks with my two which should be interesting). Both of my fur balls are indoor, though Aramis (who thinks he's a puma)hangs out on the back balcony. Cally (Empress Calla Lilly Louise) is the younger of the two and is far more of a huntress than Aramis could ever be. Granted, since she's inside, she just hunts toy mice, but I've put her on cockroach alert. ;)

Anonymous said...

P.s. - your boys are adorable! Though please translate that into regal and majestic if you tell them!