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Cat Stories

Surviving the Mighty Hunter

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I never thought that hunting could be a hazard to my cats’ health. Of course, they would pick up some worms and would be in need of an occasional de-worming session at the vet, but even though the bills would add up high over the years, it would be well worth it. Sacha, Pollux and Kashmir lived for hunting and would be miserable without their daily preys.

As I expected, they survive hunting. It’s not really dangerous for them, as long as they catch reasonable prey, and they simply love the fresh meat. But for the humans, it isn’t as easy as you may think to survive such mighty hunters. The prey is the first thing you must learn to endure; I almost had a heart attack on the day when, as I was working on the laptop in my messy bedroom, Pollux trotted up the stairs, greeted me and settled down on the pile of dirty clothes that cluttered my floor.

 As I was typing away on a diary entry, I watched him from the corner of my eyes, amused at his playful rolling and other kitten antics. When he started softly growling, though, I turned around to look more carefully, and saw him viciously attacking a favorite sweater of mine. Knowing that he could easily tear apart the fabric, I lifted him up and placed him outside of my room. As I returned to my diary entry, I saw him rush back towards my clothes and eagerly start digging through the pile.

Curious to see what he was up to, I edged closer and watched with horror as I saw him grab a dead mouse, shake it hard, and then let go so it flew right at me.

I scrambled backwards and observed him from as far as I could get; I knew that he would soon begin eating, and my clothes (which are, needless to say, a very important part of my life) would all be stained with mouse blood, which really didn’t appeal to me, so I tried to figure out a way to get cat and mouse out of the room (and house, if possible).

As I pondered over this difficult matter, I saw Kashmir peacefully walking down the hall, streching, yawning, and purring all at once. Obviously he had just woken up from a long afternoon nap, and hadn’t regained all his senses yet, as I realized when he tripped over his own legs. My first reaction was to chase him away: one cat with a mouse was enough – I didn’t need two cats with a mouse. But suddenly, I knew I was wrong. Those kittens were always jealous of each other, and now was the time to take advantage of it.

I quickly snatched sleepy Kashmir, placed him on my pile of clothes and pushed his nose to the ground. Sleepy Kashmir suddenly wasn’t that sleepy anymore as he quickly sniffed the area, and before Pollux had the time to realize his brother had joined him, Kashmir had the mouse firmly stuck between his two rows of sharp kitten teeth and fled.

I hurried downstairs, opened the front door, and watched in awe as Kashmir slipped through the crack and quickly retreated under the porch, followed closely by jealous, confused Pollux. Problem solved!

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It wasn’t as simple with Sacha, though…

Sacha loves hunting, and goes into depression when he can’t hunt. Of course, the countryside is the best place to hunt, but when the summer holiday is over and we go back to Montreal, Sacha doesn’t want to stop hunting. This has never proved to be a problem until last summer, when after the long drive to the big city, Sacha’s depression didn’t last as long as usual, for the simple reason that he had found a solution. He would hunt in the city.

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His first urban hunting expedition was held one warm Saturday evening when our neighbours were hosting an outdoor birthday party with family friends. My sister and I had a pal over as well, and we were chatting on the back porch when Sacha appeared from nowhere, a dead mouse hanging from the corner of his mouth. Our neighbours and their guests politely ignored him as he started the “ritual” – the classical “catch” games before the meal started – only a couple of meters away from their table.

As we heard the final “crunch-crunch” coming from Sacha’s powerful jaws, I felt as if I had never been so ashamed of my cat. Not only was he devouring a mouse at our neighbours’ birthday party, but he was also devouring it in front of my friend, an ex-hamster owner and rodent lover… Little did I know he was about to shock me twice as badly, only a few minutes away…

When he had gulped down his catch, Sacha vanished as mysteriously as he had appeared. I forgot him for a while and we went on chatting on the back porch, when I heard a faraway squeal that strangely sounded like a kitten, or at least, a young animal. Knowing that Sacha loved getting into trouble, I immediately knew that he had something to do with this strange sound, and whistled for him to come.

The squealing gradually grew louder, and then we heard an unusual scratching sound coming from the garden. Wondering (and, I must admit, fearing) what he could have brought home this time, I walked down the stairs to meet a very proud Sacha facing his second prey of the evening. I still shiver when I think of the moment when I understood what it was.

Apparently, the mouse hadn’t been big enough. Sacha clearly was in for some real hunting that night, so he had caught the next size up that was available (all the squirrels were asleep by then) – a skunk. And now I was standing face to face with a young, inexperienced skunk that didn’t feel comfortable with the situation (and God knows what a skunk does when not feeling at ease), and a cat who was enjoying himself tremendously. As it is not an easy task to catch a skunk, my first reaction was to catch the cat, but Sacha knew what was coming. A quick swat threw the skunk to the ground; Sacha grabbed its neck and carried it away before I had a chance to seize him. The skunk easily wiggled out of his grip and scrambled away, but Sacha would not let go of such an interesting prey. Naturally, he went right after it.

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It turns out that the skunk was a very sociable one and, seeking for human company, decided to run toward our neighbours’ dinner party, instead of straight into the bushes where any sensible skunk would have escaped. I shrieked a warning and as the party guests froze to their seats, I ran after Sacha and tried to grab whatever part of him I could get hold of – most likely his tail.

That night, I learned that it’s sometimes better not to listen to a neighbour’s advice. Especially if this neighbour has just learned that yes, cats actually eat mice. This particular neighbour had no idea what a cat can do to a skunk – and what a skunk can do to a cat. And I actually followed her advice not to catch Sacha, for the simple reason that until then, I had believed adults were always right.

That was one big mistake. Of course, Sacha and the skunk disappeared in the bushes, and evidently Sacha wouldn’t come back if I called. All of us knew that the only time he would come home was either when he had eaten the skunk, or when the skunk, well, had sprayed him. And any normal human being knows that a cat cannot possibly eat a skunk without getting sprayed.

We all stood silently in the garden, wondering what would happen next. Honestly, I think we had all guessed by now what was next to come. We got our tomato juice out and filled the sink with soapy water…

At one point, one of our neighbours’ guest sniffed the air and said, “Uh-oh.” They quickly moved inside the house as I whistled for Sacha. This time, he came, and as it was only hand-washable, I took off my beautiful brand new sweater before I picked up my beloved – and now very smelly – pet. Thus we gave a very reluctant Sacha a bath at ten thirty PM, and when I went to bed that night, I closed my bedroom door so he would not make my room stink.

It wasn’t the end of the story yet. The next morning, as usual, my dad woke up early and let Sacha go outside for his early morning run. Half-an-hour later, he opened the door to a very miserable cat with a greasy face and puffy eyes, and this time Sacha was really ashamed of himself. Not only had he disgraced his humans and crashed his neighbours’ party, he had also somehow managed to get two baths in less than eight hours. All because, by pure coincidence, he had caught the very same skunk once again. If it had been a different skunk, surely, it wouldn’t have sprayed him square in the face…

Needless to say, Sacha never approached a skunk again. I wonder, though, when he will come home with a dozen porcupine needles stuck in his muzzle. Or with a budgie in his mouth. Well, it might be tomorrow, or it might be never. That’s how it goes when you have hunting cats. You’re in for a lot of surprises!

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