Natural Borne Killers

“Hey, do you guys want to watch some TV? How about some cartoons before dinner?”

The kids are poised to spill out of the car and I offer up cookies, cartoons — whatever it takes to lure them from their usual path across the lawn.

Because that path will take them past Mel, our sweet, laid-back tabby, who at that moment is torturing a bird.

He’s in no rush. He’s enjoying himself, stretched out on the grass and batting the prey back and forth between his paws. The bird is still alive, it’s feathery sides heaving. But it’s beyond saving and you can tell: even the bird’s given up hope.

The Boy knows that the cats are serial killers and he’s seen his share of rodent and reptile death, but I want to shield him from this: one animal sucking the life from another.

on the lookout

The cats are completely heartless. At times I’ve walked from car to house and followed a breadcrumb trail of body parts. Limbs and organs from frogs and salamanders, mangled birds and moles, half eaten mice and corn snakes.

If they’re especially proud, the cats leave a trophy by our shoes in the mudroom. A bloody mouse head or a nondescript organ. I crouch down and peer at it. Is that a liver? Maybe it’s the stomach…

In recent years Frog — that’s Frog the Cat, — has been the Queen of Carnage. But Spook is no slouch. This summer the cats went on a bat binge leaving lifeless winged creatures scattered about the barn. One afternoon we stumbled on a wounded victim and while Martin and I discussed how to put the bat out of it’s misery, Spook quietly sauntered over and bit it’s head off.

It’s amazing that horror movies have featured people terrorized by sharks, birds, mammoth worms, even mutant jackrabbits. But never cats. And that’s funny because they’d be the ones who would pin us to the ground and tear us apart limb by limb.

And they’d enjoy it.