Tuesday, July 14, 2009 1:31 PM

Beware Cats Bearing Gifts


Well, not really. We cat lovers know the predilection that our kitties have for bringing us presents, usually of the still-alive (or formerly alive) variety. It's just their way of letting us know they care. Their hearts are in the right place, even if we wince each time we discover one of their little presentations! Indoor cat owners also know that cats don't have to be outdoors hunting in order to give tokens of their affection--just check out Black Bear, with one of his "sock offerings". Pretty cute, eh?

Before our cats became "indoor" sorts, Min and Sweet Pea did their fair share of hunting and, at least in Min's case, presenting. One time, I was sitting in the back yard, relaxing and reading the newspaper, when I saw Min coming cross-lots with a bird in his mouth. He was trotting happily, all ready to offer me his new acquisition. I yelled, "Min! NO!" and watched as his devil-may-care gait slowed to a standstill. It was as if he was thinking, "Oh, sh-t." I had to laugh. The bird was OK, and Min got put inside for an hour until his victim was far away. On another occasion, I was cleaning house when I heard something rapping strangely on the screen door. As I looked out and then down, I could only see Min's hind end, as his head was pressed against the door. I eased it open enough to see an enormous cicada in his mouth, wings beating a very loud tatoo on the aluminum door! I shut the door quickly, went out another door and rescued the poor thing. Min was pretty good about delivering his gifts in showroom condition.

Not so Sweet Pea. When she caught something, she ate it. Never the sentimentalist, she knew was hunting was really for. Only one time do I remember her bringing a live mouse into the house. She ran in before I could stop her and plopped down in the hallway, her favorite spot in which to observe all comings and goings. She then proceeded to ping-pong the hapless creature between her front paws until I could get it away from her. It was done in, unfortunately, with a sizable canine-tooth sized hole in its cranium.

When these two became indoor cats, they took to carrying around toys, especially a couple of wool seals I had bought at a Greenpeace store. Min did this much more than Pea, making a wailing/meowing sound with the thing in his mouth. When he first did this, we thought something was wrong, but soon got used to it. After Min died, Sweet Pea took over the "sealie" transportation duties, with her own vocalizations thrown in.

As for our present cache of cats, Bear tends to bring socks to me as gifts all the time, particularly when he wants attention. He makes a pretty good howling sound while carrying these items, too! He has several socks just for this purpose, as he used to dig J.'s socks out of the laundry bin and carry them around, leaving holes in them. J. says that whenever I leave the house, Bear brings up every one of his socks from the basement, yowling the whole time. When I return, they're all over the first floor. It's what we call a "sock explosion"! Aren't cats fun?

Just So You Know: Even indoor cats can present formerly-live prey. Recently, Miss P. told us that she had noticed an odd smell in her bedroom. She has a new mattress, situated on the floor while it waits for its attendant frame to be delivered. At first, she couldn't pinpoint the area until it got really ripe. As it turns out, Punkin had buried a mouse under her new mattress, right at the head! She reports he was not the least bit contrite when she showed it to him. She offered to let me take a photo for the blog, but I declined. What a Punk.

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Amanda
Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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