This morning as I was ignoring my alarm clock, I was greeted fondly by Nuku, my little five-year-old tabby. I tend to sleep on my side, and she likes to crawl onto my hip and lie down my leg. It's a cute comfort, being fondly affected by my pet. I got a cat because I wanted something to take care of that was capable of returning my affection, and my Baby Girl loves me in spades. She's soft and cuddly and doesn't require much maintenance—scratch her ears, keep her food and water stocked and her litter box empty, and that's all she needs from me.
Living alone once more deprives her of some significant amount of attention, and hey, I can understand this. I worked 78 hours from Monday to Sunday last week, so even those hours I spent at home were spent asleep. To mollify her, I keep a window open for her to go out and play when I'm not around. She's mostly been an outdoor cat since I adopted her as a kitten, and she likes the big space to go out and play. Now that I live on an alley not far from some dumpsters, I've started getting presents.
At first it was a small rat. Perhaps it was a mangy mouse, I can't tell. At any rate, it could fit in the palm of my hand—or more importantly, it fit into a paper towel and then could be easily flushed. I was proud of her for being a good hunter. She's a cat, and cats are supposed to be good at that kind of thing. Besides, it's practical. Being an outdoor cat is not without an element of risk from vehicles, or perhaps another animal attacking her (this happened once as a kitten, and she's been terrified of other cats ever since). But if she can stalk, hunt, and kill, it makes me believe she's capable of keeping out of the way of a car's tire or successfully defending herself if she's attacked again.
A day or two after I flushed the first rat, I found another one in the same place—on the tile by my front door. "Good for her," I thought, "the city is trying to keep control of these pests, and here she is doing her part!" I admit dead things give me the jibblies, but Nuke had done her part and I had to do mine. The next day I found two of them.
This was enough for me for a while. I didn't want her to get in the habit of bringing something in every day. I'm glad she can hunt and kill vermin, but I don't want them in my home if they didn't start there. I shut off her access to the outside for a week, hoping the urge to kill would pass, and it did. After I let her out again, two weeks went by without incident.
Until this morning.
Lake Michigan in means even the August nights frequently drop below 70 degrees. A steady, cool draft flowed over me as my favorite Stevie Ray Vaughan album transitioned me from dreams into waking. Hearing my alarms go off (yes, that's plural. I'm quite a heavy sleeper) cued my Baby Girl to jump in bed with me and curl up on my hip. When I was ready to rise, a couple of clicks with my tongue gave her fair warning that I was about to start moving, so she cleared off. I staggered out of my bedroom door and turned toward the closet for my dead rabbit. Chicago
That's right, a rabbit. In the same spot Nuku leaves all her presents from the outside was her first kill too big to fit in the palm of my hand. She'd bagged herself a bunny at least half her body weight. The closest I've seen a rabbit to my home is a quarter-mile, but she got it home, through the window, and across my living room to my front door like my personal feline Santa Claws.
I'm glad I keep a handy supply of plastic bags, paper towels, and surface cleaners. To steel myself for having to touch a dead thing from the outside, I reminded myself of the Halloween episode of South Park when Stan's goldfish is killing people, dragging them inside, and Stan's mother is cleaning up the bodies ("My boy is a good boy! Such a good boy!).
I'm shutting that window for a while.