There are moments in every cat owner’s life when you have to question precisely why that status should continue to apply to you.
I’m not really talking about the random barfing moments that make each day such an obstacle course, though I suppose I could be. Mithra has taken to barfing on our bed these days, for reasons which are not entirely clear. Fortunately for me she prefers to leave her gifts on Kim’s side, and at moments when I am either so far gone in exhaustion that I don’t even hear her or actually physically gone (in which case I definitely cannot hear her). So I can overlook this.
No, I’m talking about events that make me question the very purpose of owning a cat.
The cat was domesticated, I am told, because of its prowess in hunting vermin. Ancient humans looked at this small predator and said to themselves, “Huh. If I can keep one of those creatures in my home, it will eat all of the unwanted critters that currently eat my stuff. This sounds like a good deal.”
And it is, when it works.
Yet the useless lumps of felinity that populate my own home seem to have missed this message. Mithra is a “catch and release” hunter, happy to bat mice and other small creatures around for a while but ultimately uninterested in any more permanent actions. Midgie, on the other hand, is the sort of cat who makes you wonder how the species ever managed to evolve in the first place. Surely there were not ancient cat food vendors out there in Mesopotamia or the Indus Valley supplying kitties with treats. Or maybe there were, but at some point in history there must have been cats capable of hunting for their supper.
I do not own such cats.
This was brought home to me with especial force this morning, when I went to put on my shoes.
I stuck one foot into a shoe and things were unremarkable. It was as if I had done this many times before with similar results. In point of fact, it was exactly that situation. So when I stuck the other foot into the other shoe and felt something soft and fuzzy, I thought to myself, “This does not seem to be the usual sensation. I shall remove my foot and dump out whatever is blocking my progress, so I may investigate the causes of this unusual situation.”
Or words to that effect. Bystanders may not have heard exactly those words, but that was the gist.
So I dumped out the shoe, heard a thump, and went to turn on the light to see what it was.
It wasn’t there.
Now there are only two possibilities at that point. Either I didn’t actually feel or hear anything – not very likely, given the multiple sensory pathways through which this knowledge has been acquired (see how I use my pedagogical jargon? someone owes me a gold star) – or whatever it was had run away on its own power, which had certain implications.
And sure enough, there was the mouse, hiding in the corner.
Freeloading cats! What good are you? You are not protecting my home or the things in it from all of the unwanted critters that currently eat my stuff or sleep in my shoes!
I eventually trapped the mouse in a cup and tossed it out onto the lawn. No doubt it has found its way back in by now, but so it goes.
Maybe one of the cats will find it first this time.