A Simple Question

So, if you’re the cat who left the bottom half of a rabbit on my doorstep this morning, with said hemi-rabbit’s liver and intestines each artfully laid out to the side, will you raise your right paw?

Yes, well. That’s what I thought.

63 thoughts on “A Simple Question

  1. My cat does this without the “half rabbit/liver/intestines” prequel, I think.

    The right paw is part of the whole “look how precious and prissy and sweet I can be – I’m not a predator – please feed me take me into your life” routine.

    No, off to the basement to find the 546 mummified half rabbits ….

  2. At least with cats you get the offer to share. My dogs ate a rabbit in the back yard last week and didn’t even consider it. Ungrateful beasts.

    And yet cats are thought to be aloof and dogs are man’s best friend.

  3. Cats who bring you dead game are trying to take care of you, feed you, and start to teach you how to hunt for yourself. It’s when they bring you something just barely alive (or alive and kicking) is when they think you’re ready for the next lesson.

    Obviously your cat doesn’t think you know how to hunt for yourself. Yet.

    Beware of the cat who thinks you’re ready for the next lesson.

  4. None of my cats has ever taken down anything bigger than a mole. I’m impressed. (Though my wife insists that one of her pre-marriage cats took down a coyote once. I have my doubts…)

  5. When I was a kid, was had a really, really lazy cat. Then one Sunday morning, to our surprise, we found a dead mouse in front of my parent’s bedroom door. For the next several weeks, every Sunday, the cat would leave progressively smaller mice in front of the door. As a child, I had this image of Dusty (the cat) having a poor mouse family tied up in the basement, killing them off one by one as gifts to my parents.

    Eventually the mice stopped (I guess he ran out) and he never did it again.

  6. Our cats are strictly inside now that we’re in an apartment. The best they get is sitting outside on the deck in a giant steel dog kennel. They sit out there and talk to the birds; hoping that one will sometime be foolish enough to get near enough to the change so they can…

    Our alpha cat spent his first summer at a house where he had a backyard and about 30 acres of woods behind it. He started with all mice, shrews, and moles. Next came chipmunks and ground squirrels. Then he purged the entire area of every bird he could find. Rabbits were next, which were perfect to practice disemboweling techniques on. He tried his best to catch tree squirrels but really needed another year of growth and speed to get to that level. And then there was the woodchuck pup that he had the collision with. That cat has absolutely no fear. It was a good thing we moved. He probably would have gone on to raccoons, waterfowl, and small birds of prey…

    When my wife was in middle school, her and her sister freaked out so much when their cat brought home mice that the cat switched to other gifts. Pine cones, flowers, toys stolen from other yards; just about anything she could carry that was not a bird or rodent. I have never seen anyone else so change a cat’s hunting instinct.

  7. I once had a semi-feral cat bring me a still-kicking field mouse. You would not believe the look of sheer disgust the cat gave me when I accepted the mouse and promptly turned it loose (holding the cat to give the mouse a fair head start). I believe I received actual telepathy, to wit: “Dammit, now I have to catch it all over again. Thanks, jerk.”

  8. My cat wouldn’t eat any small woodland creature unless I caught it, ground it up, and put it in her food dish. When a parakeet gets loose, she acts like she is afraid of the wing noise. Her only stealthy act is trying to climb under the covers with me at night.

  9. A dead demi-rabbit on the porch is far better than a live chipmunk in the living room. I assure you.

  10. Man, the rabbits in your area must be pretty lazy and complacent if they can get taken out by a –no offense–rather portly feline.

    The cats in my area are so accustomed to the fat rats from this one really gross house that they couldn’t catch my rabbit if they tried. They have a few times, but it’s such an embarrassment that they’ve mostly given it up.

  11. My cat use to disembowel the fake “smacky” mice we buy for him by the ton. Every five feet, there would be wooden inserts and the skins scattered about…

    I’ve also seen him catch moths, flies, spiders, and once, memorably, a cricket.

    He’s never brought us anything, though. Phew.

  12. My in-laws’ now-deceased Persian cat used to sit under the hummingbird feeder. Occasionally, she would shoot straight up into the air and take a swipe at a hummingbird. Eventually, she succeeded. That’s a bad-ass cat!

  13. @26 Clay:

    Or a live wood duck in the living room. My cat also brings me hemi-rodents. Only, since I have cat doors, he leaves them for me in the dining room. Because that’s where eating happens.

    @27 Annalee:

    It’s all about stealth. Also, rabbits aren’t that bright.

  14. my golden retrievers brought me a deer stomach and a deer leg (respectively) on their way home from their morning walk. who knew that today was “recognize your human” day. glad to know other people got nice presents too!

  15. 12 Alan, you’ve just been hanging around with the wrong dogs. Lucy, my German shepherd/border collie mix (see her picture and publishing profile here), it definitely the terror of the small beasts in our relatively small back yard. (Admittedly, we’re 100 meters from the county fairground one direction, 250 meters from a forest preserve in another direction, and on the edge of town.) Her take so far — that is, for which we’ve seen corpses — is a couple dozen rabbits, five birds, and five squirrels.

    And she does share. Four years ago, on Father’s Day she brought me a nicely killed wascally wabbit (huge, too) to the back door and laid it out there, just for me. (Then she puked the guts up on the carpet, but she is a dog.) Every Father’s Day since has involved a present at the back door.

  16. Oh sure! Take the easy way out and blame the cat. No way it could have been the guy who called you a hideous arse-candle. Not a chance it could have been the “Greetings Gentlebeings” guy you’ve been excoriating. Seems to me there’s at least two plagiarizing dudes you could have pissed off. And then, there’s the entire ‘living in the past’ Confederacy that has a bone to pick with you.

    C’mon Scalzi. Take some responsibility.

    ::Paid for by the Freedom From Bacon Liberation Front::

  17. @30 Brett L: Bright enough to jump into the nearest thorn bush at the first sign of trouble, but maybe that’s just my rabbit. He happens to be pretty huge, so I’m not convinced he couldn’t hold his own in a fair fight with some of the neighbor cats, but fair fights seem to be an offense to the rabbit-gods. My little guy fights dirty.

  18. What a sweet cat! He kept half that juicy rabbit and brought it for breakfast to the family. Too bad that thoughtful gesture doesn’t seem much appreciated.

  19. Same thing happened to me, once. I was visiting at my parents’ house, situated on 25 acres, and had to be home because the insurance adjuster was due.* He comes, and I let him do his thing. Then I see him approach me, looking rather green.
    “Erm,” he says, and leads me to the basement stairs… where I see that Sabrina, my parents’ cat, has slain a rabbit and artfully arranged its guts over two or three stair treads.

  20. O Simple Scalzi, you do realize that the rabbit was an offering to the Beauteous Ghlaghghee and not to you?

    By interfering you have placed yourself in grave danger. The only way out is to beg Her Perfect Forgiveness and publish a selection of pictures of Her, say a dozen or so. Right now.

    The Official Ghlaghghee Fan Club

  21. None of my cats so far have even approached Sabrina’s prowess as a hunter (she regularly takes out mice, rats, birds, and rabbits), though my former cat Minnesota (“Minnie the Moocher”) has one or two (rat) kills under her belt.

    Of my current cats, Jack the Tripper is a city cat and wouldn’t know what to do with a mouse even if one somehow did stumble into his grasp, and Tangerine has made a few swipes at birds but hasn’t gotten anywhere.

    Apparently true fact: cats bring you barely-alive critters because they’re trying to teach you to hunt. That’s why cats that bring you presents are usually female. Adam@19, your cat probably figured that you were too much of a loser to catch the FIRST mouse, so he’d try again with a SMALER mouse.

  22. I came home from work and found a redheaded woodpecker sitting on a dining room chair once. 1 of my cats specialized in birds, one in rodents (spent a winter with a chipmunk living in the house ’cause I couldn’t find it), one in rabbits (every easter, ugh!) and one is just a lover.

  23. What a strange coincidence – at 4 AM I was cleaning up leftover bunny bits from my living room. The loose eyeball was particularly disturbing, though the cat chirruping at me while I was taking care of things was rather amusing.

  24. Our cats are indoor cats, but that doesn’t slow them down much. Our house is not very well sealed against intrusions, and there is a continuous stream of mice, voles, snakes, shrews, and the like that come in to be killed. The cats don’t like to eat them, though, so usually we end up finding these slobber-covered corpses in the middle of the kitchen floor in the morning.

    Once one of the squirrels that sometimes live in the ceiling unwisely came down into the kitchen, and there was an immediate mad scramble by three cats and two dogs charging around all over the house trying to catch it. It finally dashed behind a small end-table, and I grabbed a towel to try to throw over it so I could grab it without getting bitten. Right about then, the beagle knocked over the end table, and the squirrel charged me and ran up my leg – luckily, on the *outside* of my pantleg. I slapped the towel over him and grabbed him by the head right about the time he hit waist level. I then had to hold him over my head away from the ravening horde baying for his blood, so I could take him to the door and toss him outside. The last I saw of him, he was high-tailing it into the trees with the dogs in hot pursuit (he got away). We didn’t hear any more squirrels in the ceiling for quite some time after that.

  25. @30 Brett L I think my cats leave the waterfowl to me ever since I caught a diving duck of some kind or another on a fishing lure. 3″ gold floating Rapala minnow if anyone cares to try their luck at that kind of fishing. I recommend you don’t. They aren’t easy to catch in the first place, and they’re a little tougher to get off of a treble hook than you might think.

  26. Our cat brings in those giant tree roaches (1 1/2″ long) and plays with them until they die of fright. Must be that because they have no obvious wounds. That is one of my jobs around the house, remove the insect and give it a good flush.

  27. Ah, yes. The gifts. I had a cat when I lived in Philly that left me an array of decapitated mouse bodies arrayed on the foot of my bed while I slept.

    I don’t know what was more disturbing — her pleasant demeanor about being a killing machine, or the fact that I never did locate the heads.

  28. Here is what my cat thinks of the little furry snacks. She only eats the upper part.

    Head = Mmmm crunchy snack with a fatty center
    Upper torso = hearts are yummy. Lungs not so much but heart are so yummy
    Lower torso = Yew gross guts. What did this thing eat.
    Tail = Sticks in my throat.

  29. When I was married, our cat used to leave dead mice in my husband’s shoes. He also brought in a live chipmunk once and let it loose. I think he thought the chippy was a bit more stunned than it was.

  30. When I was a youth, all our cats were indoor-outdoor, as they wanted. All but one would hunt.

    The cat I grew up with was more into … cups. When we first moved to a house, and had a backyard where we children would leave things, she would, every night, bring me a cup. Or a small toy. She’d climb in through the window we left open for the cats, and drop it at the foot of the bed, and then jump up and sleep with me.

    After a move to a house that had a field across the street, another cat proved to be a great gopher killer. Sometimes she’d bring one (or a mouse) into the house, but that wasn’t for gifts… that was more wanting to play and eat in comfort. And sometimes she’d hide her uneaten food in a closet. Again, not as gifts, just keeping for herself. The most interesting story about her is one day, my father was watering the lawn, and caught a gopher out. He yelled for my mother to get this cat… my mother did, and kinda tossed the cat at the gopher. She (the cat) walked over to the gopher, bit it once behind the head, and then went back into the house, leaving my parents to deal with the efficiently-dead gopher.

    But then there was Ralph (named after the supermarket in which my mother found him): one day, we came out to find a rat tail, and a pair of kidneys, on the walkway in the front yard. And then, every single day after that, the same thing. This continued until he disappeared and never returned.

    Purrsella (the cat I grew up with) eventually caught a mouse. My mother, after waking up, heard some meowing, and went to let the cat in. And screamed when the cat — for the first time, ever — had a mouse. And then pounded on my door to wake me up, saying, “Your cat has a mouse! Deal with it!” I said “huh?” and groggily went into the other room… and the cat saw me, ran towards me, dropped the still-living mouse at my feet, and then ran into the kitchen to eat some kibble.

    My current cats are indoor-only. So no hunting. Selena likes to chase and eat spiders, but that’s about it. Although last night, Leo (16 month old boy cat) did drag a toy-on-a-stick from one room to drop in front of Polly (9 month old girl cat). And then they proceeded to engage in a round of competitive licking, followed by an hour or so of wrestling.

  31. When I lived in a lovely reformed chicken coop cottage in San Leandro, CA, my dearly departed Littlejohn would regularly be in and out via the French windows facing the back yard. Oftentimes, the “in” would coincide with live mice, and once or twice with live birds. I would grab the mice by the tail and toss them out the front door; if I didn’t have a foot in the way, Littlejohn would leap, chirping, after the mouse, thinking it was a truly fun game of fetch. The live birds, though, were a problem; the roof of the coop was just high enough that I couldn’t reach the top rafters…a broom weilded on high would sometimes do the job.

  32. My cat used to groom my (late) rabbit, licking his fur and ears. This didn’t go over too well — the first time, his “WTF?” response left him with fur on end and ears askew — pity I didn’t have a camera! Over time he got more used to it, staying for up to 30 seconds before hopping away.

    Gremlin (the cat) was not only an indoor cat all her life, but was hand-weaned, so she can’t even groom herself properly, let alone hunt! I doubt she’d known what to do with a mouse.

  33. Our cat is always terribly annoyed when we deprive them of their prey before they finish playing with it. It’s not that we’re being kind to the prey or cruel to the cat, we just don’t want to step on the offerings in the morning.

  34. Erik Ordway, your cat would get along great with my large primary cat.

    When we get those furry toy mice, he *always* chews the tails off.

    When we were at our old place, we had problems with mice, and after the large primary cat did nothing, my husband set a trap behind to stove, where the cat couldn’t accidentally get caught in it.

    The first mouse caught in the trap didn’t have a tail.

  35. We had some pretty good hunting cats when I was growing up. We’d find rats dead on our doorsteps many mornings. They’d run about ten inches sans tail— norwegian rats, not pet rats. Big suckers.

    And then there was the time I found a squirrel’s four paws and tail on the lawn. Nothing else.

  36. Dead half-anything outside (on the convenient dining mat called ‘a doormat’ by ignorant humans) is better than live anything inside where you have to catch it, because the cat has gotten bored and gone to sleep.

    Store clerk to my mother, who was buying a mousetrap: ‘You know, if you got a cat, you wouldn’t have mice.’
    My mother, who knew exactly how the mice got in: ‘If I didn’t have cats, I wouldn’t have mice in the first place.’

  37. I have had a cat in the past that was good at bringing “presents” – mice, birds, even a puff adder once (this was in Lesotho). Her name was Lucifer (Luci for short). Currently we have Scottish Terriers, who are hell on mice, rats, and the occasional stupid ‘possum (three dead so far). We think one of our dogs tangled with a raccoon, as she was beat up pretty seriously. The only problem was is that there were other dogs in the yard that could have came to her aid. Cats are also stupid if they do not leave the yard if the scots are out. Any pictures of the half rabbit?

  38. Never met a cat I didn’t like. Rabbits, don’t get me started. Disgusting, creepy, vile creatures, really.

  39. Cats that catch rabbits are awesome.

    My old cat, when he was past his prime, spent most of his time laying on this shelf that was on our back porch.

    A stray had had her kittens back there and for a while we had these juvenile cats hanging around on the back porch also.

    One day one of these half grown kittens had caught a fairly large mole and was playing with it on the porch. It would drop the mole and the mole would try to get away and the kitten would catch it again.

    My cat was sitting up on his shelf watching. Suddenly he jumps down, smacks the kitten, grabs the mole and just starts eating it whole. Starting with the head and crunch, crunch all the way down. I was watching through the glass sliding door and the kitten watched with what looked like shock on it’s face.

    When the old cat was done, he hopped back up on his perch and went back to sleep :)

  40. At least your cat had the decency to kill it first for you. I’ve removed living moles, mice, lizards, frogs, skinks, baby squirrels and birds that the cats drag into the house. That leaves the dead carcasses of the ones that I don’t find to clean up, usually due to lack of food and water (mostly lizards).

    That is the one downfall of having a cat door so that they can come and go as they please. And some of them still want you to let them in or out anyways.

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