Several years ago, in
May 1998, I was sitting out on the front porch of the house and writing in one
of my journals. My black cat 'Rock' was right under my bench....he was never
far from me, when he was home. He was a great cat. And he preferred the great
out-doors, as opposed to being an inside cat. He watched the roads and owned
the neighborhood. Rock was definitely a 'man's cat'....
Rock was about eight
years old at the time. He had never known 'wine, women, or song'....he was
neutered. Rock was my very first surgery and I neutered him myself when I
worked at the animal clinic...under the vet's supervision, of course. And I
still have the little 'trophies' to this day. I wanted to neuter him before he
began to spray and breed so, at seven months old, the impending problem was
nipped in the bud.
However, this did not
take the fight out of Rock...there was nothing he wouldn't fight...and he
would chase a stray dog that wandered through the yard in a heartbeat.
Rock was very muscular...built like a Pit Bull...and it was among the first
things that people noticed about him....his size and his muscles. Sad to
say, July 1998 was the last time I ever saw him....a pack of stray dogs did
him in. Don't even get me started on stray dogs...
Rock was a wonderful
hunter....he would catch snakes and let them lay outside for a day or two and
then he'd eat them. And he did eat his kill, always. We liked to call him 'the
big game hunter'. And then there were the times he'd come home, usually at
night, with 'live' animals. He'd have this special 'meow' that he would do
when he wanted us to open the front door and see what he had. And right about
the time you would open the door he'd bolt through with his 'live' prey and
let it go into the house.
Oh, the times we chased
chipmunks, flying squirrels, baby bunnies, rats, and moles.....he seemed to
really enjoy watching Les and I desperately trying to catch these terrified,
and often angry, creatures.
On this particular day,
in May 1998, I glanced over and saw the entrails of 'who-knows-what' lying on
the door mat. I had no clue what he brought home and ate during the night.
Rock was sleeping and I went into deep thought of what his nights might be
like...or his days, or his thoughts. I had the music playing in the house and
wondered if cats listened to it...I mean, I know they hear it, but do you
think they mentally respond to it?....."oh, no...not that song
again...." or are they really that indifferent to it?
Did Rock ever go down ol'
memory lane and ponder on great fights he's been in, or how he out-smarted a
rabbit? How about the one-who-got-away? Did he ever give another thought to
the animals that slipped away?
Did Rock ever plan his
hunting trips? There were times he stayed at home for days.....and never went
outside. Then there were those times that he just had to get outside. Did he
go out one day and happen onto a nest or something and plan to return? I
wonder if he ever planned to go out hunting, saw another male cat instead,
ended up in a fight, and then thought of how all of that just blew his plans
Did he ever try to catch
an animal, totally miss it, and then get angry at himself for being clumsy?
Did he sit somewhere and 'play it back' in his mind....realizing where he
messed up.....thinking he was slow, or that he didn't put enough effort into
it...examining what went wrong? Did he think about ways he could improve and
then put that thought into action? Did he ever think...."Man, I'm
good!" I mean, there has to be things they do to sharpen their hunting
skills....that's why older cats are so much better at it.
Do you supposed that Rock
ever found out about cat sex and wondered why he didn't do that? Maybe he
thought that there was something wrong with them...'unnatural cat
acts'....'freaks'....but did he feel left out?
Did Rock ever reflect on
his little 'kitten-hood'....feel silly or stupid about his past? Did he even
remember it? What did he think of other kittens when he saw them....did he
think they were silly and had a lot of growing up to do? Was he ever amused at
things? Do cats have a sense of humor? What is their equivalent of laughter,
if they have one?...do they think anything is funny?
Late at night, for
reasons we don't understand, Rock would go to my crochet basket and get large
balls of yarn out, put them in his mouth, and carry them around from room to
room...and he would be meowing the entire time...muffled meows through the
yarn balls.....and he would insist on waking Les up while he did it....why?
What on earth did this mean? How did he come up with this one?....What would
make a cat decide that getting a yarn ball in his mouth and meowing through it
would be a good idea?
And it just don't get any
better than this....a long time ago we had cleaned the fireplace out, back
when we had the farm....and we kept a huge copper pot beside the fireplace for
the ashes. We could put a lot of ashes in it before having to empty it. Well,
one night we had gone out and forgot to let Rock out....we didn't have his
litter box prepared. When we got home we discovered that when Rock had to
relieve himself, he went in the ash bucket. What a good boy! Now that's
clever. And one other time, during a similar incident, Rock went over the
drain in the bathtub. You gotta love a cat that will do that!
There were times, on
occasion, when I would acquire stray kittens and have to find them homes. They
were here on a temporary basis, but that didn't make Rock like them any
better. He had no patience for kittens. However, if the kittens were here for
more than a day or two, Rock would bring home his 'kill' and give it to the
kittens. He didn't want them near him...and he did it reluctantly, but he did
it...as though it were his duty.
How did he know that it had to be done...that
a mother cat would do this to introduce hunting to the young? And a mother cat
will, at first, bring home a completely dead animal. The next time or so, she
will bring home one that is 'half alive'....and give it to the kittens. It
still had some 'play' in it and this is another teaching technique of mother
cats. How did Rock know to do this....and do it just like a mother cat would?
How did he know to take on the responsibility himself?.....didn't he think I
was capable of going out and killing a mouse or a mole all by myself?
Yes, I do think of things
like this when I'm watching my cats...even today. And even if you know the
answers to some of these questions, don't tell me....I kinda like the mystery!