I was half-way watching the national news the other day when the anchorman mentioned cats and really got my attention. A study conducted by scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic cats in the United States, our indoor/outdoor precious pets and outdoor strays and ferals, kill around 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals a year, making cats one of the single greatest human-linked threats to wildlife in the nation.
This was very sobering because even though Tigger tried to bring a bird’s carcass in the house once, I’d assumed it was already dead. My precious Tigger would never kill a bird in cold blood he had no intention of eating. In hindsight Tigger rather blatantly flaunted several kills, leaving uneaten corpses right in front of the door. Of course that study snatched me right out of the state of denial I’d been living and drove home the harsh reality that those many times Tigger bit and scratched me, he could’ve inflicted much more damage.
That the spoiled, cantankerous Tigger is a killing machine has added a whole new dimension to our relationship. Maybe he sensed the gig was up. That there was no longer a need to sheath his instinct because he and I had a near physical fight a couple of days later. So I can personally attest to at least one cat’s ferociousness.
He was peeved because I refused to give him more of his favorite snack. Lower sodium honey roasted turkey. I’d quit giving it to him at one point, but started back after Zoey died, figuring why the hell not. Now he’s like a crack head always wanting to hit the pipe and I’m the dealer. I attempted to bribe him with firm strokes down his back and a good scratch beneath his chin.
He seemed to be chilling which made me relax because that baritone meow of his puts me in suspended animation to the point all I can think is how do I get him to stop. I took my eyes off of him for just a second to check the time and he hauled off and bit me on the hand. I rapped him on the forehead. His ears went back, his eyes got manic, the fangs came out and he struck at me with a paw. I jumped up and damned if he didn’t look ready to pounce. Picture a cat pinned to my chest and me trying to pry him off. My heart was pounding like a runaway stallion and adrenalin was prompting my feet to lash out. Good thing we came to our senses and backed down.
Now some of you may find this strange. But knowing my cat could be a vicious killer actually makes me feel better. Knowing that cats with no home wandering the wild won’t starve because they are natural born hunters definitely takes a load off. Maybe my love for cats is blinding. I see the birds and mammals as collateral damage. It’s survival of the fittest and if my Tigger ended up outside having to fend for himself, I sure as hell want him to be the fittest.
Thanks to that report, the scratches on my wrists and arms and the corpses I’ve seen with my own eyes, I now know that Tigger can take care of himself if he had to. I know the last thing environmentalists want to see are more cats roaming all over the place, especially feral ones. In a perfect world all cats would have homes and be kept perpetually indoors. But we all know this world is far from perfect.
Speaking of which, Tigger was outside the other night when a dog barking its head off made me open the door. There he was tail all bushed out. I didn’t see a dog but had to keep hissing at him to get him to stand down and come in. It took a while for his tail to morph back to normal size. Sensing I was proud of him he strutted around showing off.
Domesticating cats thank goodness hasn’t neutralized their natural instinct. Hunting is what cats do and I for one like knowing my cat wouldn’t starve if God forbid, he ended up in the wild.