Living with Carnivores

A vegetarian human's adventure with cats

Category: Vegetarianism

Anatomy of a Kill

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Above you can see a cute striped toy mouse, somewhat in decline.  It’s formed from a compressed cardboard core around which colorful cording is wrapped.  Already, some of the cord has been unwrapped from the toy, along with its ears, eyes, and snout, which has been chewed completely off.   Interestingly, these toys never seem to go for a swim in the water bowl, but they do quickly get destroyed.  Below, you can see a fully unwrapped version of the same type of mouse with one lonely eye looking up.  Really glad the vegetarian is much larger than the obligate carnivores in this house.  Otherwise, you can see what my fate would be.

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(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Vanquisher of Strings

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I think all cats have vivid imaginations — the more so because we keep them “captive” in boring houses and apartments. They have to work hard to polish their hunting and stalking skills with things that only move if they push or pull or throw them (or if they can coerce their humans into doing the same).  I kind of imagine they think of strings as some form of urban snake or perhaps the unusually long tail of a lizard or salamander.  My 3 darlings are all quite good vanquishers of string.  This is the baby comet in action attacking a dangling string from some of my clothing.  With claws and teeth like that, nothing that moves is safe in my house.

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Pack Hunting

Tig BemusedAll those animal experts will tell you that cats are solitary hunters. Unlike dogs, they don’t hunt in packs. Well, hate to be the outlier data point here, but I beg to differ.

With my previous batch of cats, Tiggin especially was convinced that this vegetarian would never eat such disgusting stuff as tofu if I only had better hunting skills. (She proved that again and again by begging for scraps of my meal. When offered a piece of tofu something or other, she’d literally roll her lip up in a grimace and walk away.)  She was forever going down into my ancient stone basement where she’d occasionally capture a mouse that she’d bring up to me in the middle of the night. Now, I’d like to clarify that I’m not afraid of mice. However, when a cat wakes you from a sound sleep and drops a live mouse on you at 1 a.m., you’re going to bolt up from bed and scream…at least I did.  That would immediately lead to the mouse and the cats making a hasty retreat off the sides of my very tall 4-poster bed, and then the fun would begin.

Tiggin and her “siblings” would run around my bedroom as I got up, flipped on a light, and reached for a sheet of cardboard and a glass jar I kept for just these moments.  We’d race around together, me trying to save the mouse’s life by capturing it in the jar so I could put it outside, and the cats thinking that they were finally teaching the vegetarian how to hunt for a proper meal.  Sometimes, after 30 minutes of dashing about all over the house trying to save the mouse’s life, I’d just give up and go back to bed.  The next morning I’d awake to find the now thoroughly dead mouse laid at the threshold of my bedroom door.  Since I’d once again proven myself inept, undisciplined, and lazy, they were offering the mouse to me as a snack, but they were chastising me for giving up too soon and missing all the fun of chasing down the prey (thereby failing my hunting lesson once again).

My current crew seems to do the same with their toy mice. One of them will start flipping the toy in the air, and then everyone will start dashing about trying to find where it landed, and great noise and enthusiastic play ensue.  Late at night or early in the morning they will make the same kind of moaning cries that Tiggin did as she was carrying a live mouse up to my bedroom, except that, fortunately, all they are bringing me is a toy one.

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Sassy Caesar

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Once upon a time, the Big Guy as silent as stone.  He didn’t make a peep.  He even purred quietly.  Despite the presence of the rambunctious duo, he didn’t seem to think it was okay for him to be more vocal.  However, somewhere along the way over the past 2 years, Caesar has put aside his mute ways and has become so talkative that he’s downright sassy. This is especially the case  in the early morning hours when the human is stumbling around in the kitchen trying to get them their morning food and snacks, feed the outdoor birds (a great source of entertainment for all of us), and prepare the sacred coffee beverage that helps transform her from a zombie into a fully functional creature.  Before, there were 3 of them chirping a few notes while looking at me intently — perhaps their attempt at exerting mind control to help me focus?  Now Caesar sets up a steady stream of chatter and — let’s call it what it sounds like — bitching, while pacing around and looking over his shoulder at me.  I can almost imagine him saying, “Hurry up, move it, never mind mashing the food up, never mind waiting for the freeze-dried food to re-hydrate, get along, I’m hungry…” He also chirps all the time now, particularly when he’s tossing around one of those soft-bite grey mice, and his purr finally matches his size.  It’s great to hear the big guy cutting loose.

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photos my own.

Water-Bowl Wrangler

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Picture this:  I have identical heavy, thick-walled glazed ceramic water bowls for the cats on my first and second floors.  The glaze on the inside is even blue.

And, no, my darlings do not drink nasty city water. They sip only water that has been gently filtered to remove chlorine, fluorine, and other contaminants.

For the better part of a year, this worked quite fine.  But for some reason, over the past few months, that mischievous girl of mine has started throwing copious amounts of water onto the floor from the downstairs water bowl…often looking over her shoulder to make sure she has an audience…and not just once a day. No, she’ll sometimes flood the floor 3-4x in a row. I no more than get the last flood dried up, the bowl refilled and placed on a dry towel that, in turn, sits on a plastic placemat, then off she goes again.

I find it quite interesting that this never happens upstairs, despite the fact that the bowls are virtually identical and the water comes from the same filtered source.  In fact, for reasons I don’t understand, they hardly ever drink water up there at all, despite the fact that there is a small bowl of crunchies out.

I probably should back up and explain that Mac(aroni), my tuxedo female, generally can’t be bothered to crouch down and eat or drink like a normal cat.  Instead, she’s more likely to sit up and snake a paw into food or water bowls and eat off her mitt.

Looking for answers to this baffling behavior I read an article from a cat behaviorist that explained that cats never want to risk contaminating their water with carcasses of dead prey, so it’s important to keep food and water dishes separated.  I did this first by moving them to opposite sides of a doorway in a single room — alas, to no effect. Next I began moving the water bowl around to other rooms.  The water-bowl wrangler kept up her splashy behavior. I tried removing the towel, but water was still tossed around.  When I returned to placing a towel under the bowl, a corner of the fabric was next dragged into the water. (Can’t you just hear her thinking, “I’ll show her!”)

Her latest variation on the theme of floor flooding is to scoop water out of the bowl and then crouch down and lick water as it beads up on the towel on which the bowl sits.  Stay tuned: I’m sure there will be more.

Cats.  Go figure!

(c) Copyright 2014, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Photo my own.