but Maxie has become a hunter. No longer the sweet little kitten who lived to play with the toys Mama provided, no longer the voracious eater who snarfed down every morsel of Friskies and elbowed Loosy and Lily out of the way so he could eat theirs too, no longer the Mama's boy who needed constant petting and perched on my shoulder purring madly, Max has reverted to his barn cat heritage.
Yes, he was born in a barn. And, like any good barn cat, he has impulses and instincts to kill and eat small creatures. It appalls me, yet I am resigned to picking up and getting rid of the discarded corpses of mice and voles, the headless bodies of rabbits, the bodiless heads of rabbits, the sinuous but rigid length of a garter snake, the swatch of feathers. I am not going to try to change his behavior and it is impossible to keep him inside or on the deck without seriously limiting everybody's freedom in this household.
I guess this is the dark side of the interdependent web, that felines are predisposed to hunt, kill, and eat small prey. Our domesticating them has not changed this inherent quality. If we were living in caves, doubtless this would have its upside. Living in a house creates certain problems.
Of course, his life is in danger too and, like the chipmunk he caught this morning, he needs to be ever vigilant to avoid becoming prey himself. He has a good startle reflex---he's back on the deck in a flash if he hears a strange noise---but he persists in prancing his bright white hide across the yard, as visible as if he were dyed fluorescent pink. Every night I half-expect that he won't show up, but so far he always has, dirty and foul-breathed from whatever he's eaten, full of affection for me and flopping down to groom himself before falling limply asleep on the bed.
You're disgusted, I know. I'm disgusted myself, especially because I have become the undertaker for these mauled remains and the caretaker of the mauler. But, as one of my fellow islanders has observed, that's what cats do and the small animals which are their prey know it. Prey takes precautions and occasionally gets caught. Predators do the same; they catch and are caught.
I thought this hymn lyric was appropriate. It's #17 in the grey hymnal.
"Every night and every morn some to misery are born;
Every morn and every night some are born to sweet delight.
Joy and woe are woven fine, clothing for the soul divine;
Under every grief and pine runs a joy with silken twine.
It is right it should be so: we were made for joy and woe;
And when this we rightly know, safely through the world we go."