Cat and Mouse

Let us walk in the woods, says the cat.
I’ll teach you to read the tabloid of scents,
to fade into shadow, wait like a trap, to hunt.
Now I lay this plump warm mouse on your mat.

~Marge Piercy from “The Cat’s Song”

Pangur Bán and I at work,
Adepts, equals, cat and clerk:
His whole instinct is to hunt,
Mine to free the meaning pent.

Next thing an unwary mouse
Bares his flank: Pangur pounces.
Next thing lines that held and held
Meaning back begin to yield.

With his unsheathed, perfect nails
Pangur springs, exults and kills.
When the longed-for, difficult
Answers come, I too exult.

So it goes. To each his own.
No vying. No vexation.
Taking pleasure, taking pains,
Kindred spirits, veterans.

~ from “Pangur Bán” by a 9th century Irish monk

I’m still groggy every morning when I step out my front door onto the porch to make my way down a  gravel driveway to get the newspaper. More often than not, it is still quite dark out at 5:15 AM.  More often than not, my slippered foot lands on something a little crunchy and a little squishy and a lot icky on the welcome mat in front of my door.

The front porch cat — as opposed to the back porch cat, the garden shed cat, the hay barn cat, the horse barn cat and the 3 feral stray cats — predator that he is, leaves behind certain remnants of his prey’s….uh, body parts.  Mousey body parts or birdie body parts.  I assume, from the consistency of this little carnivore compost pile, these are unappealing to the kitty, so become the “leavings”, so to speak,  of the kill. Typically, it is a little mouse head, complete with little beady eyes, or a little bird head, complete with little beak, and something that looks suspiciously green and bulbous, like a gall bladder.  I don’t think heads or gall bladders are on my preferred delicacy list either. And they are certainly not on my list of things I like to wear on the bottom of my slipper.  Yet I do and I have.

I’m perplexed by this habit cats have of leaving behind the stuff they don’t want on the welcome mat, even the occasional whole shrew or field mouse, seemingly untouched by claw or incisor, but yet dead as a doornail on the doormat. 

Some cat owners naively think their cats are presenting them with “gifts” –kind of a sacrificial offering to the human god that feeds them.  Nonsense.  This is the universal trash heap for cats and a testimony to their utter disdain for humans.   Leave for the human the unappetizing and truly grotesque…

In my daily walk through life, I too have my share of things from my own hunting expeditions that I unceremoniously dump into a compost pail: things I don’t want, don’t need, can’t use, or abandon when I only want the palatable so the rest can rot.  Apple cores, peach pits, corn husks, banana peels, orange rinds…none have the gross-out characteristics of a tiny gall bladder but I can at least comfort myself with the knowledge they won’t end up on the bottom of anyone’s slipper.

photo by Nate Gibson

5 thoughts on “Cat and Mouse

  1. Haha! All our out-door kitties have left unwanted parts on our back porch mat. We always looked at those byproducts as some sort of offering, but you have encouraged us to view them differently. What junk do I leave for others to discard?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One cold Fall morning as I went out to pick up our daily newspaper on the ‘welcome mat,’ I was greeted by what appeared to be the fresh remains of a very dead large mouse (or was it a small rat?). I recoiled in horror. Being a city girl, I had seen such gruesome sights before — like the warm sunny Spring morning I hung sheets on the line and nearly fainted at the horrifying sight of Bambi’s daddy literally suspended from my neighbor’s clothesline pole. I ran to my parents’ bedroom, shook my daddy awake and told him what I had just seen. He tried to soothe my panic and then asked me, “how many points did he have?” I was disgusted, shocked to my core, ran to my room and stayed there most of the day. I never
    watched Disney’s movie Bambi again; nor did I ever attend a circus.

    I know, I know. The comparison seems foolish but there is no reason to kill Bambi’s daddy. If we must murder and consume such a beautiful majestic creature (most likely head of his family) we have meat markets available lined up in rows with clean, dressed, alternatives.

    The ‘coup de grace,’ final insult to Bambi’s daddy is to be beheaded, stuffed, and hung on a wall, feeding the ego of some brave human hunter. Makes me so sad….


  3. Ha! Oh, Emily–I am crushed. I feed 3 neighborhood cats and they are prone to leaving ‘presents’ in our driveway or, casually, on the pack patio. I always thought it was a gift…..but I don’t think I would ever wish someone would present me with a dead rat.


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