Friday, May 21, 2010


I got a front row seat at a real-life cat-and-mouse game yesterday, and it was nothing like Tom and Jerry.  I stood bolted to the floor, mouth agape, as this city girl got her first demonstration of how a cat catches his dinner.

Standing at the kitchen window, I watched a grey striped neighbor cat come around the corner of our house with a mouse in its mouth.   The cat dropped the mouse on the ground and sat down, looking around bored, while the mouse played dead.  Occasionally mousie tried to dash away, but the cat would always get right back on him.

I watched as, again and again, the cat cornered the mouse and batted at him.  He'd sit for as much as a full minute, glancing around the yard, his tail flopping back and forth, seeming to ignore the mouse, while the mouse stayed frozen on the ground.  Slowly the cat would crawl toward the mouse and then pounce, sending the mouse running again.

It was agony.  The cat toyed with the mouse, like a bully on the playground, just waiting until he had his poor victim worn to exhaustion.  The mouse ran to the left of a tree and the coy cat sauntered to the right side, looking around.  Good, he lost him, I thought, then, suddenly, the cat reached around the tree and batted the mouse again.  Back in his mouth, onto the lawn, then more torment.  For fifteen minutes I watched, stomach churning, as the mouse was badgered.  I was so absorbed in the scene unfolding before me that I forgot to take the cookies out of the oven when the timer went off.

From the upstairs window beyond our yard, a Siamese preened in the window, unaware of the unfolding drama.  A big black fluff ball of a cat sat on the fence, watching. As the cat began his victory feast, the fluff ball slowly made his way over and stood at a distance, still watching.  Evidently the rule of the Little Red Hen exists among cats -- the feast is only for those who help prepare it.

The experience was hard on my psyche.  Questions bombarded me: Am I more like the cat or the mouse, the bully or the bullied?  How must it feel to be the mouse, worn down by psychological torture?  Ah, come on, cats eat mice.  What's the big deal?

I've got to tell you, I prefer Tom and Jerry.

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