It Knows Not What It Does

“Naughty!”

In a way it is such a modest admonition.  It is true:  the recipient of such a judgement should cease its damaging ways immediately.  And yet the word also indicates a type of bemused shock; an alarm that is both subdued and charmed.

But I was not bemused or charmed – or any of those show-moving emotions.  I was surprised and angry.  And yet this was the first word that came to mind.

My verdict was directed towards the cat.  She has always looked to me like the very essence of Pet, for which I hope she will forgive me.  Yet she is indeed a very soft and rounded girl.  All muscles and instinct, a velvet trust inherited from her ancestors, have been hidden under a life of grooming appointments and bowls of salmon broth.    All of her wild gifts were forgotten.

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A bell hung from her throat, like a dainty insult.  And she wore a collar bearing a name that she did not want.  She is a domestic animal, yet her blood is unquiet with an undefined threat.  She still moves like a subtle hellion.

I see her most days.  Usually she is in possession of a square of sidewalk, waiting for the warmth of the concrete to saturate her tamed flesh.  But one morning she was most attentive, and I was not included in her hard, golden stare – which occasionally has been my honor.

And then she began to move.  Not run…but to move with the noiseless bearing of a hunter; a half-forgotten locomotion commandeered by the silent, mindless intent of a sociopath.

I tried to warn her intended victim – a mourning dove:  foolish, oblivious and feeding – but its escape was a low, depleted flight.  I watched the savage miscreant’s launch into the air, the arch of her torso and the extended, hopeful limbs.

I saw the gleam of her claws as they singed the dove’s feathers; I saw her gaze expectantly into the sky.   And I stood awhile, waiting to forgive the pet that knows not what it does.

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6 responses to “It Knows Not What It Does

  1. The BFF gave the Mr. a shirt which has an adorable cartoon and says “All cats are sociopaths.”

    Once they were tigers, and gods, and they have not forgotten.

  2. Truly awesome. Your devoted companion, the force of nature and that photograph. Worthy of the Cats of Greece book. I was just recounting to my friend a study that showed cat’s genes are (of all pets) closest to their wild ancestors. This is why they revert to feral so quickly. But I never support these dumb initiatives to exterminate feral colonies. Its truly not their fault that humans imported them (and I’m skeptical of the claim that ferals kill as many birds as strays or companion cats, LOL).

  3. I see it even with my beloved Dixie Rose, who hasn’t put a paw outdoors since she was four months old. She sleeps on a chair by a window, with a bird bath and feeding platform just on the other side. Most of the time, she doesn’t care. Pigeons or sparrows? Can’t be bothered. But a blue jay or a dove? Muscles tense. A strange, chattering noise replaces the purr. Sometimes, she’ll jump down and move toward the door: stealthily, surely, overcome by the instinct to hunt. Hunger has nothing to do with it — at least, not the sort of hunger that comes first to mind.

  4. 🙂 Wonderful! We have a cache of kitties here — and they’ve never forgotten they were once gods and goddesses. Never! And I too try to warn wandering lizards and insects: This is the murder zone for you. Please don’t enter.

  5. “Naughty!” indeed. I’m glad to know the mourning dove escaped, if just barely. Cats are ancient and sacred predators – my sister’s cat can’t help bringing home one chipmunk after another… sigh … My cat does her bird-watching from behind the sliding glass doors. Once in a while she “forgets” and lunges forward to nab one but smacks into the glass. Beautiful story-telling, as always, Aubrey.

  6. Whilst dogs, by and large, are sociable and eager to please, the cat still remains an impenetrable mystery. Even the most domesticated of felines retain that vestigial memory of stalking and the hunt. She looks very innocent in the photograph! A beautifully captured incident.

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