My outdoor cat, Levi, and I have an ongoing disagreement. He thinks it’s really swell to catch birds, squirrels, chipmonks, and anything else that moves. I think that I feed him more than adequately and he needs to leave the poor creatures alone. This is the way our arguments usually go: Levi heads out across the backyard looking sweet and innocent. Some time later, I glance out the kitchen window just in time to see him sneak around the corner of the garage with his latest victim dangling helplessly from his mouth. I head out the backdoor, yelling “Okay, buster, drop it now.” He used to run away, but has learned that I am a persistent cuss who will follow him behind bushes and through spider webs. Now, believe it or not, he usually will drop his prey after ducking behind what I call ‘the bush of death.’ It is a graveyard of feathers and bones located at the corner of our patio. Levi cusses me in cat language while I lock him on the back porch and survey the damage done. If the animal isn’t too injured, I leave it alone and allow it time to recover and escape. If necessary, I move it to a sheltered place in the ivy or under some bushes – away from the bush of death. If it needs a lot of help I find a way to put it in a box or carrier and contact the closest wildlife rehab center. It is a scene that replays over and over, especially in the spring and summer.
And so it was before church this morning that I made Levi drop a young squirrel. As usual, he left it behind the bush of death. Because it was time to walk to the church, all I could do was leave it alone, lock up the cat, and hope for the best. It was still there after church – alive, breathing steadily, but obviously badly injured. While my little ones napped, I pulled out my pruners and chopped that stupid bush of death down to a stub. I scooped up the injured squirrel and placed it in a box. (Don’t worry – I used tools, not my bare hands!) It was pretty responsive. It drank some water out of my old guinea pig water bottle. It nibbled on a wedge of apple. But it doesn’t move around much. I’m afraid that Levi may have broken its back. If it lives through the night I’ll call the vet, who will call the rehab center. If it dies, at least its last life experiences will be with kindness and not cat.
So what do you think? Am I complete idiot? Should I learn to turn my head and let my cat do what cats are programmed to do, without interfering? Would it be better to let the cat put the poor creatures out of their misery rather than increasing the time of their suffering?
I guess that cats will do what cats will do, and soft-hearted suckers will do what soft-hearted suckers do.
P.S. Every now and then I get what Levi thinks I have coming to me. One time about dusk I made him drop his prey, thinking it was a squirrel. He dropped it and snickered smugly and I squealed at the long rat tail as it disappeared around the corner of the house. What was I thinking???