Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Love and (no) Mercy

We have an "insufficiently aggressive" cat who no longer goes outdoors. Our sagacious, elder cat began life as a scrappy urban stray, but now spends the bulk of his arthritic days dozing on the front porch. And then there's our energetic Siamese, who's as thin as the others are fat, and whose name means Love.

Apart from one bus and one taxi ride, Love spent the first six years of his life in Adam's Twin Cities apartment. Sharklike, he paced the apartment with relentless grace, breaking stride only to leap a piece of furniture or maul a plant.

Love has a sleek build and gorgeous fawn coloring. Moved by his beauty, or alarmed by his energies, I would occasionally snatch him up and attempt to soothe him. Love would stiffen against my shoulder, but was otherwise polite, gallantly resisting the urge to sink his claws in my skin. His blue eyes quivered, or, rather, the muscles behind his right eye did. He'd always been a trifle cross-eyed, poor guy, and the right eye tended to drift toward his nose whenever Love was still.

This past year has changed all of us in this household, but Love may be the most transformed. Once we began to let him outside, Love became suddenly lovey. Now he curls up like other cats, and frequently seeks my lap. He's stopped howling the "howl of the damned" as we used to call his mournful, morning cries. And — I swear to God this is true — he's no longer cross-eyed. I don't know by what miracle, but the muscles in Love's right eye no longer vibrate.

Is it hunting that restored his vision? Sad to say, Love is a genius of the hunt. When my mother made a fuss over Love's sparkling new personality, he dashed outside and dramatically slaughtered for her a vole. I'd like to say that's the only thing he's ever killed, but to assert that would be to ignore the tokens he regularly leaves on our front step.

So, Love sees better than ever, but our love for Love remains blind. We continue to praise Love's sweetness and athleticism. We continue — probably by refusing to think about it too much — to allow Love to sleep on our bed.

But it was hard to love Love the day he tracked a mousie, one who — again, swear to God — abruptly spun around and stood on hind legs to face his stalker. It all happened so quickly. Adam was scolding and loudly clapping hands. The mouse appeared to be clasping his.

"We can work this out," the mouse's dignified posture seemed to say. "Won't you please have mercy, Mr. Hunter?""

Love's answer was to bite off Mercy's head.


At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


(What else can I say?)

Some cats are born hunters, aren't they? Reminds me of this one sweet, silly, very fluffy cat my parents had for a while -- who had been a barn cat, and, at all odds with her with-humans personality and appearance, was death to all kinds of little creatures. It was always a surprise when she showed up with a mouse head or left bird feet on the stoop.


At 12:43 AM, Blogger meg said...

My mother's cat is a fearsome hunter as well. He kills something nearly every day, even if she refuses to let him outside. He cozens creatures inside so that he can kill them, on my honor. Squirrels, jays, even a kestrel... I await the phone call informing me that he killed a coyote and snuck in the house with it to deposit it next to the couch.

And this is the beast known as the Dog In A Catsuit -- he has the personal habits and personality of a golden retriever.

At 2:30 AM, Blogger Benedict said...

He is the embodiment of love, and that last line should be in a Hugh Grant vehicle.


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