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Archive for November 9th, 2006

Little gifts

I have studied the matter some, and I have determined that our cats wish to give us gifts.  It makes them feel all warm and cozy inside, and they simply do not understand why the baby bird, tiny bunny, or dead mouse does not please us.

When I was a little girl, we had a cat who was very concerned about earning her way and proving her worth.   She was a  pregnant tortoiseshell and she had taken up residence in our garage.  My mother has never been a fan of cats, and was definitely not too keen on the idea of being adopted by this cat, who was obviously going to provide us with an almost instant litter of kittens.   But the Black Mama Cat, as she became to be named, started eradicating all the vermin that had been occupying the garage.  The morning that Mother went outside and found one large dead female rat and her five dead younglings laid out in a very neat line on the path changed this cat’s fate forever.  She immediately became a valued member of the family.

Mike insists on bringing me gifts on a regular basis.  He is very hurt if I am not properly appreciative of his largesse.  One time he caught me disposing of the vole he had brought me in the trash basket, and his confused, hurt expression made me resolve to never get caught again. 

He also seems to think that there is a distinct possibility that we will stop feeding him.  He reminds us of our duties earnestly as soon as there are less than ten pieces of catfood in his bowl.  I have learned that if I am stubborn enough, he will eventually clean out the bowl and then I can put more kibble in it.  Because of my insistance on this rule, he has learned what “Eat the food that is in your bowl” means.  It means that his idiot person is not going to give him more food before he chokes down the stale remnants of the morning’s repast.

Another thing I have learned is the value of checking under the bed frequently.  This is where Mike has developed the habit of filing dead prey for future reference should the unthinkable occur and cat food forever become a thing of the past.   Or if he wakes up starving in the night and there is nothing else available for a midnight snack.  Since this rarely happens, the filed food source frequently deteriorates past the point that even a starving cat would deign to eat.  Once when I finally forced myself to vacuum under the bed, I found not one, but two mummified mice under there. 

In spite of my resolution to check the area under the bed more frequently, there came a morning when my dilatory housekeeping came home to roost.  I was making the bed.  As I was flipping the sheets around and plumping the pillows, there seemed to be some sort of disagreeable odor that did not jibe with the expected scent of boudoir.  As I sniffed and mentally questioned my olfactory findings, I began to have a horrible suspicion.  I looked under the bed.

There, lying on its back with its little clawed feet sticking up was a dead robin fledgling, definitely the source of the odor.  Apparently it had lost its play value some days before, and Mike had left it there just in case.  Having trained me well to make sure there was food available during the night, just in case never occurred. 

The poor bird was bloated, I had visions of it exploding before I could get it out of there.  Very carefully, I scooped it into my dustpan and carried it out to the back brush line where some possum would be happy to dispose of it.  I resolve, once again, that I would look under the bed EVERY DAY.

Come to think of it, I haven’t done that today.  Best get on with it.   There just might be a present under there.

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