Cat Fight

photo by steelheadwill @ flickr.com

Back in April, hubby and I went outside to play a nice light game of tennis, just to bat a few balls around – no need for keeping score, no problem with hitting a ball that had bounced three even four times.

In the middle of our friendly little game, a cat jumped from the top of the fence surrounding the court into a nearby tree. Squawks ensued and shplat! — a whole nest of baby birds fell onto the court, right at hubby’s feet. One was critically injured. Its neck appeared broken and its legs were spread out in odd angles. Two others hopped off into the nearby bushes to take cover, trying to escape impending doom. Meanwhile, the mama bird screeched loudly. Shrieking, I imagined she was frantically calling, “My babies! My babies!

Looking up, we heard the cat mewing. He appeared to be stuck way up in the tree. I felt sympathy for the cat. Hubby was for the birds. (Pardon the pun.) “Maybe we should help the cat down,” I suggested.

Hubby shook his head. “This whole scene has made me sick. Let’s go home.” He packed up his racquet while I sat down on the concrete and decided to wait for the drama to unfold. I was thrilled. I think I even licked my lips. (Meow.)

Finally the cat made his way down from the tree and stared intently into the tennis courts, trying to figure out how to get inside so he might enjoy his new feathered playmates. Meanwhile, hubby was begging me (now, from outside the fence – saying things like, “C’mon,” and “Let’s go!”).

I knew what I had to do.

I walked outside the fenced-in area, assumed a squatting position, and cooed towards the cat. “Here kitty, kitty, kitty. C’mere kitten . . .” I sang as I opened the gate leading to the court. The cat cautiously stepped onto the green cement, then turned back, looked at me with gratitude, and went on to find the maimed bird with the splayed legs.

It wasn’t a vicious or bloody attack. The cat simply pounced lightly on the little, dying bird and after a few smacks of his kitty-lips, the wee-winged fellow was gone and the cat strutted off the court, disappearing behind some trees.

I left the court feeling I had done the right thing in helping the cat to put the bird out of its misery. I figured if I were dying, I’d rather have someone snuff out my breath than let me gasp and twitch and suffer needlessly.

Obviously, that’s just me.

On the way back home, my husband would not look at me, let alone hold my hand. He fumed, “Why did you help the fucking cat?”

When death is inevitable, would you prefer to let nature run its course or would you rather help things along?

19 responses to “Cat Fight

  1. Jakes, I am horrified. Aiding and abetting a murderous huntress cat that kills for pleasure and sport? Did you also say (but conveniently omit in this post) to the cat “Look. Look. Over here! The two others are under this bush. Quick. Over here!”? Who is next in your diabolical schemes of collusion with death? Bin Laden? Will you be helping him? Or the Washing Machine Eating Sock Monster? Will you help him? I can just picture the entire dreadful affair as you danced your celebratory ballet of death. It will take me a while to contact my cumbas in that infamous little Italian club that begins with an “m” and ends in an “a” and rhymes with concrete shoes. Get it? In the meantime I am going to send a huge flock of enraged Florida blue jays to “clip the wings”, so to speak, of that dreadful murderous cat. Let the entire feline world beware: There is justice and retribution in Life. What did you name the cat? The Lion in Winter?

  2. We had a cat in our old neighborhood that killed chipmunks on a daily basis. I fed him so he would keep my yard free of pests. My neighbor would chase him, saying it was bad for the kids to see. I say it’s the circle of life.

  3. Ohhhhhhhhhhh! You have opened a can of worms here – the euthanasia can of worms and I must say I am with you and all those helpless people who want to end it rather than go on suffering for years on end.
    The thought of ending up in a “twilight” home, wearing incontinence pants and stinking to high heaven, whilst being blissfully unaware of it, is enough to make me consider suicide.
    So well done you for helping nature handle the cat and bird situation. And I do wish that the world would wake up and see the Dutch have got it right. End suffering as swiftly and painlessly as possible.

    • I had a student write a research paper on physician-assisted suicide where she argued that it was unethical. I’ve always considered it humane.

      Her position got me thinking about the cat and bird situation this spring. Hubby and I still talk about it.

      I have a living will. We both do. We have different wishes. I just think that it is smart to have these kinds of discussions with people who know us well so there are no surprises later.

  4. Ah, the trials of being a cat lover. Mine isn’t a hardened killer, but it seems that she deliberately waits for children to be present before she embarks on her very occasional baby bird killing spree. I don’t apologize, though. Nature red in tooth and claw, as the saying goes, and if the birds are dumb enough to build their nests in the lowest branches of a dwarf tree? I mean, what am I supposed to do about that?

    That said, I do feel bad for the wee creatures. I don’t know if I would have helped a strange cat, though…and when it comes for our own lives I think I’d choose the quick and painless myself, though I also everybody has the right to make their own decision as long as they don’t start imposing it on others.

  5. I start with tennis and end up with right to life. It’s like sitting through one of my lectures. That said, I’m not sure if I’m disturbed a little bit or if I like you more. I think both.

    What I normally do though is skirt the tough issue and use the opportunity to analyze the actor. So why did you open the gate? Were you thinking more about the cat or your hubby? Are you so in tune with blogging that you sensed a post complete with 3 part structure was about to happen if you just lifted that little, old latch? Did a bird attack you when you were young or do you just hate Hitchcock? So many questions Fryber Renee. You fascinate me.

  6. Mr Baldwin, one of my favorite teachers, once asked our class: “Is it okay to take a pencil from work?” Of course, most of us said that it was okay. The next day he asked the class: “Is it okay to take a computer from work?” The class as a whole said that no, it is not okay to take a computer from work. The third day he came in and asked us if it were okay for Bill Gates to take a computer from work for that is the equivalent to a pencil to the rest of us. We all agreed, after a short discussion, that it would be okay for Bill to take the computer. “You have all put a price tag on ethics!” he yelled and left us to contemplate. I’ll never forget that lesson.

    What in the hell does this have to do with your story, you ask? We as a society has for some bizarre reason assumed that bigger is better (sorry about that, no other way to phrase it) and smaller approaches insignificance. Okay, it sounds like you liked watching the cat in all her glory snuff out this “little” creatures life. Renee, would it be okay with you if a dog then came along and killed that cat? Probably not, because the cat is considered higher on our “care” chart. What if a man then came out and shot that dog? Is that okay? Society deems that dog’s life to have more meaning than the baby bird’s and I ask why? I’m sure that bird cares for it’s life as much as the dog does his. Think about how we just brush off the existence of a life as we throw out a “successfully” used mouse trap by saying “How gross!” I don’t know, maybe that Baldwin guy has screwed me up pretty bad.

    The question that we must ask ourselves is are we, as humans, blood thirsty or compassionate? Maybe, everyone has to be considered individually. Jeffrey Dahmer was murderous, blood thirsty where Mother Theresa was compassionate. Your husband borders compassionate but someone else may have went a little further in caring for the baby bird. In general, I believe that we as a people are indeed compassionate and take privilege in protecting the weak. If we didn’t then we would promote things like countries invading other countries, Michael Vick’s love for animals, and bullying. It is above my “pay-grade” to say what is right or wrong, I can only offer my opinion.

    Everyone has to make the decision by themselves on what is right or wrong, help this bird or not, stop a bully or ignore. If you don’t know then think, what would “_________” do? (Fill in the blank, God, Jesus, Allah, Mother Theresa, your mom, your dad, Mr Baldwin, whomever you worship) Be careful because it may make you re-evaluate your belief system.

    “Damn you Mr Baldwin,” I think as I watch a mouse scurry across the kitchen floor. LOL.

    • What a thoughtful response. I guess I would say that I did not take any “pleasure” in the cat’s actions. I was more thinking of the bird, that was clearly near death. Its legs were splayed in every which way, and it was suffering on the hot pavement. It was going to die. The others that escaped, well… their survival would be in nature’s hands, but the bird on the court, it seemed less cruel to let the cat have at it than let the bird simply suffer.

      Have you ever tried to care for a baby bird? I have. Guess what? They die.

      I am not afraid of death. It is a natural part of life. What seems unnatural to me is the way we seek to prolong it. Just because we can doesn’t mean that we should.

      I can only tell you that if I have a living will, and if I ever thought I would ever be in a situation where my quality of life would be so diminished that I would be little more than that bird — living with no chance of flying again, living without any chance of rubbing feathers with my nest-mates or peeping or eating worms, I would wish for someone like me to let the cat in. I pray my hubby will follow my wishes.

  7. Renee, I remember when you were in college and came home for a weekend. A bird had fallen from its nest and you were so kind to that little birdie. You came to its rescue.

  8. Icky scene at the tennis court, no doubt! I remember our sainted Tin Tin cat doing bad, bad things in the back yard. Cat fanciers who keep cats indoors always cite bird kill as a big factor, along with indoor life extending cat years. (Tin Tin made it to 17 but he was a smart, cautious cat.) Personally, I go with let nature take its course. Lions and big cats are not serial killers and neither are back yard or tennis court slinkers.

    Nature take it’s course with end of life issue? If I am in constant pain and things are terminal, I’ve got a plan. Simply a burden to others? I’m a real stinker, so I’d say that’s my caretakers’ problem. Isn’t that awful?

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