Chocolat the Literary Critic
It must be the time of year – early summer – or the arrival of the South-Easter, or the phase of the moon – whatever it is, my cat Chocolat is filled with bloodlust and comes home almost daily, bringing me PRESENTS. Those of you who work as Staff for Cats will know what I mean.
She comes trotting through the door and instead of her usual loud greeting, all I hear is a suspiciously muffled call. It’s muffled because she has a mouthful of bird, or small creature, usually alive, if not actively kicking. Oh dear. Not again. I leap up, but she’s a lot nippier than I am, and always dives under the bed with her latest prey. If the little body is limp, I leave her to it, and close the bedroom door until she’s finished. Urrggghh.
But if the creature is alive, kicking and bent on escape we then have a three-ringed circus: cat v.s. human and prey; prey v.s. human and cat; human v.s. cat. I have recently caught small birds desperately trying to fly away and stunning themselves on the glass. It just depends who gets to them first – me or Chocolat. Rescued birds don’t do well, I think it’s the shock that kills them. Mice are a better bet. I rescued a charming yellow-striped Cape mouse last week, managed to catch him with my famous braai-tongs, and release him over the neighbour’s garden wall, with Chocolat watching angrily from the locked bedroom.
Those braai-tongs are wonderful: not only do they enable me to pick up small objects at floor level, they make an excellent rescue tool too. Because they have a long handle I’m able to reach under tables, cupboards and into corners. I even managed to rescue a lizard, lying on my bedside mat – lizards are the devil to catch, not only are they very quick but they shed their tails as a get-out-of-jail card, and usually all you’re left with is the discarded twitching tail while the lizard has hidden in an even more inaccessible corner.
Big grasshoppers are the worst, and Chocolat loves them – they’re so lively, and interesting and provide hours of fun. Major fun! For her, but not for me! By now I must be well on my way to Bodhisattva status due to my rescue work.
What fascinates me, is that Chocolat dines lavishly on high quality cat kibble, so she’s not hungry. She just enjoys the sport. Proof of which are the shrews. She hauls them inside, leaves them under the bed and walks away; apparently cats won’t eat them because have a bitter taste. I ask myself : then why bother in the first place? But I know the answer to the rhetorical question : cats are hardwired to hunt.
But what really gets my goat, is her attitude to proffered tasty titbits on a saucer, after my meals. She will approach the saucer with more caution than a Bomb Squad Disposal member approaching suspect terrorist unexploded ordnance. Having established that the saucer and titbit might be edible, she then carefully sniffs and examines the food like a nervous guest at a Borgia banquet …. and then has a cautious nibble. She might then condescend to eat the titbit. CATS!!!! Sigh.
So basically I’m harbouring an efficient cold-blooded killer, dressed in a sleek brown fur coat, and disguising her true nature by playful winning ways. Hmmmm.