Friday, April 07, 2006

cat tale

We have cats all over our neighborhood. According to the kids, some of them actually belong to people, but most of the ones near our house are strays born to a gray cat that is so wild, I've seen her jump off my back deck to escape me when I open the back door (that is a fall of more than 10 feet). At any rate, claimed or unclaimed, they all roam. They all behave as if they have no home, or that their home is simply a territory. No one owns a cat. They come and go as they please and they go wherever they please. I have a love/hate relationship with that whole concept because while I like the freedom they exemplify, I despise the fact that they use people. I despise the fact that they seem to have no regard for any other living creature. They are all that matters to themselves. I can watch a cat walk up on someone's back porch and eat her fill of fancy feast, and walk back down in the yard and mutilate wren. They kill for sport and often just wound their toy and leave it to bleed to death. I doubt that I'll have my wren family in the garage this June, because the cats have taken over my woodpile where my wrens go to college.
Watching them stalk my loved ones on a full stomach makes me find it difficult to see harm in sitting at my table and filling my belly, and then walking out onto the back deck with a .22, and have some angry sport at a sporting feline. Turnabout's fair play, I'd say. It is for the sake of my neighbors who think they own these cats that I don't exterminate them during target practice.
We had a cat for a while when I was kid. She'd scratch to go outside, and return a while later with a gift of a small bloody animal laid in the doorway. Sometimes, when I'm refraining from ugly, angry sport, I fantasize about gifting my neighbors in much this same way.
Will loves cats though. I don't know why. He is crazy about them like he is no other animal. This morning when I walked him to the bus stop in the predawn alborada, we sat down on the curb and watched a cat come walking across the road to meet us. Will knew her name of course, or at least had assigned her a name. When she came to us and brushed against our legs, Will said, "dad, you don't pet this cat, it's a leg rubbing cat." I'll trust you on that one Will. The cat was brushing back and forth and purring VERY loudly in a lower-than-normal hum, I thought. We snickered at the loud motor sound, and then Will told me a great cat tale. He said that "there is another kid on the street who likes to play that cat like bagpipe." A bagpipe? "Yeah, you don't blow through her or anything, you just pick her up and rub her and she purrs. When you rub up toward her shoulders, the purr pitch gets higher; when you rub her further down the pitch gets lower. This kid is trying to learn to play Mary had a little lamb on the cat."
Is that so?
Will tells a story like an old-timer story telling pro would tell a story to a little kid. When he's finished, the kid searches the old guy's face for evidence to the validity of the story. He really is a pro. I looked hard, but he gave nothing away. We laughed out loud together and his bus pulled up.
"Love ya dad, see ya this evening."
Bagpipes, huh? But you don't blow through the cat?
I don't know.

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