It sounds like I’m about to let a fable loose right here, but this is more of a horror story.
The Egg refers to our cat, because her name is Egg. I could explain that, but I won’t.
If you are squeamish, please consider this your squeam warning.
We have had cats and mice in the same house at the same time before, and it’s always frustrating and revolting. The first time, the mice were working in the walls to get at food in drawers without ever giving the cats a pouncing chance. Three cats failed not only to catch the mice, but failed to notice the infestation at all. I was very bitter about cleaning up the debris and droppings and scolded those fat cats the entire time. They did not respond but merely sauntered away and crapped on something.
We’ve had good mousers, but they were just as irritating as the worst mousers. The good ones perched in odd spots and stared at nothing without blinking. I could have felt more unsettled if the cat had sprouted antennae or if it turned and spoke to me in a casual tone, but it was eerie enough as it was. Once their aim was obvious and they frightened off the mice–or whatever foreign rodent might have been rustling around–praise was lavished on such a cat. They accepted the praise before sauntering off to crap on something else.
A time or two, these hunters have killed a mouse. I assume it was a legitimate killing, but it’s always possible that they simply found a dead mouse and tried to take credit. Either way, I have never let them eat their alleged prey, because when you have neighbors, there is no way to be postive that no one has put out poison. I don’t really like my cats that much, but I don’t want them to be poisoned by mistake by someone else.
Based on her history, no one would have estimated that Egg would be a good mouser. We rescued her from a deranged kitten mill and she was not our first choice. Egg was selected as the only option for a companion to what we thought would be our prized Maine Coon, Boo. Boo is a disaster on her own terms, but Egg was not right from the beginning. She’s beautiful to look at in a still photo, but she always smells terrible and has a genetic fault that makes her eyes shift and vibrate. She can be affectionate in a cloying way and she can suddenly baffle and transform into a ball of claws.
Egg has grown lazy with age and shows much less interest in hunting toys than her companion does. She scoots under throw rugs for kicks and backs up onto her hind legs and boxes her pal, neither of which suggests that she has any practical skills like rodent pursuit.
When I arrived home late last night, my first thought was that the cat was ill. Egg squatted in a corner of the kitchen gaping at the refrigerator. She didn’t respond when I approached, which was odd. She didn’t acknowledge my chit chat, which was normal. I got an ear twitch in response to shrill kissy noises, so I knew she was alive and moved on.
The pets all pout when I’m out in the evening, so I had forgotten all about her weird vigil until I heard the cry. This noise was unique, but akin to the revolting, throaty howl that Boo makes just before expelling an especially large hairball. In this instance, it was nothing to do with Boo.
Egg trotted through the room, making the noise and I saw a dark string dangling from her mouth as she passed. I realized that the cry was muffled by the thing in her mouth–the mouse in her mouth. She arrived at her very favorite napping spot and smugly dropped the mouse on the carpet. I peered at it and just as I decided it was dead it stood up and raced into the next room.
My screams woke yerdad and most of the house. My embarrassment is really beside the point.
The mouse must have been tired, because she easily captured it again and then spit it out onto the rug again when I approached. It rolled onto its feet again, dazed, and then scooted behind a chair. She stared intently as the mouse panted and undoubtedly struggled with its tiny strategies. Egg could have retrieved it again, but she waited instead, letting the little guy panic his tasty, tasty panic.
It’s easy to see why people assume that cats play with their prey. It felt sadistic in the moment, but it’s only because I sympathized with the mouse. Cats aren’t playing, they are practicing, because it’s how they are programmed to survive. I don’t think we’re permitted to judge that. Sure, if a human behaved like that it would be creepy as hell, but Egg is not a human, thank Bastet!!
Finally, the mouse was ended and taken away by yerdad, once The Egg had more than enough practice at catch and release. I stood on a chair for most of the action and I’m fairly certain I only squealed when it did.
Once everyone had calmed down again, I found Egg, crouched in the corner of the kitchen again. I thought for a moment that she might be wistful and wishing for another chance.
Then I remembered, if she’s not sadistic then she’s definitely not harboring an imagination. There are more to come.