Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What I Learned from my Cat

In the late '70s we got a cat.  Josh, then almost two, named her "Blue."  This seemed like the perfect cat name and since the cat appeared to be good with it, that's what we called her.

Now Blue was a sweet cat but a horrible, horrible hunter.  Every fall a mouse or two would get into the house and every fall it was a mousetrap, not our cat, that dispatched it.  I felt kind of sorry for her because I could see her practicing stalking when she thought I wasn't looking.  I knew she had the heart of a huntress; she just never seemed to get it right.

One autumn day, I walked into our backyard and there, right by the concrete steps, some insolent mother mouse had constructed a nest and birthed a bunch of babies.  Blue was mainly a house cat but she did come outside with me from time to time and I just couldn't resist bringing her out to show her these mice.  Bless her heart, she couldn't even catch them.  I decided there was no hope for her and we went back inside together.

What happened next was a major life lesson for me.  Our cat hopped up onto the windowsill to track the mother mouse.  I knew that's what she was doing because every time Blue moved her head, the bell on her collar jingled. 

The bell jingled!  It took me three years to realize that the cat couldn't catch mice not because she had some feline disability but because I had tied a bell around her neck.  Imagine her frustration!

I took that bell off immediately.  The next time I let Blue in from exercising outdoors I noticed a little (dead) present by our back door.

The years roll by.....

Now I live in the woods of South Carolina, home of the copper-colored pit vipers.  People tell me that the snakes will leave me alone if I don't creep up on them and catch them unawares.  Why would I do that?  I want them to hear me coming a mile away.  So, remembering the lesson that our cat Blue taught me, I have custom made myself an ankle bracelet with five bells on it.  Nobody - not snake, not cat, not human - is going to be surprised when they see me coming.

J i n g l e  all the way!

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