Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gifts of the Cat

ats whose guardians allow them to wander outdoors are known to return home with assorted kills. For many cats, this is meant to be a gesture of giving rather than a stash to consume later.

One such kitty is profiled in Susan Chernak McElroy’s Animals as Teachers and Healers. Sammi and her person lived in the country, where every morning began with the chattering of Sammi at the front door and her gift of a (dead) field mouse. Her person lavished her with praise for her efforts, which Sammi reveled in.

Then the pair was forced to move to a small place in a city—no more countryside for Sammi to roam in, no more field mice to hunt, hardly a tree to climb. Her person worried that Sammi would have difficulty making the transition. She needn’t have fretted, though. The cat adapted to the nature deficit without a hitch: Each morning, Sammi chattered at the front door and presented her person with…

a couple of pine cones. Sammi was just as pleased with these inanimate objects as she’d been with the tiny rodents. And her person must have been more pleased.

How sweet is that? Sammi made do.

As I searched for a photo to accompany this tale, I found The Happy Cat, the feline pictured here. His person explains that Happy Cat has a special fondness for squirrels—likes to carry them around by the scruff of the neck as if they were his own kits. Sometimes he places them at his person’s door, quite alive and never hurt. But as soon as the squirrels realize their good fortune, they race off. Yet Happy Cat doesn’t try to stop them or pursue them again.

I’m not sure what to make of this. I wonder if something’s missing in Happy Cat’s life. All the same, I do admire his unique approach to gift-giving, and his reminder that every animal is an individual.

[Drop cap by Jessica Hische; photo by Fred Griffin.]

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