Monday, May 29, 2017

Sadie the Hunter

The transition is now complete: Sadie is ours.

Sadie began coming to our house about two years ago. A neighborhood cat just leaving kittenhood, she would show up with Pepper, her brother or sister (we never knew which). They’d frolic on our front porch, to the absolute delight of my daughter, who has loved all animals without reservation since she was a tot.

After a few months, though, Pepper stopped coming. According to neighborhood intelligence, he or she was grabbed by a coyote – a common fate for small pets in these-here parts. From then on Sadie only showed up intermittently. Until last fall.

At that time, she began to visit almost daily, drawn by welcoming daughter Dana, probably. Dana sweetened the pot by buying kitty treats at a nearby grocery store. Soon she was adding kitty treats to my grocery list. Then dry cat food. Then canned. I went along with it, though my initial impulse was to get “Pet’s Pride,” the generic crap. Dana said that wasn’t good enough for our freeloading feline.

And so, encouraged by us, Sadie began spending more and more time at our place. I leave for work early in the morning; sometimes Sadie would show up during the hour or so I work in the kitchen before heading to the bus stop. I’d let her in and feed her. It didn’t take long for Sadie to search out Dana’s bedroom, and prolong her visit.

This went on for months. Dana began buying cat toys, including some that sharpened Sadie's hunting skills. It began to feel like Sadie was ours. I kept reminding Dana that no, she has another home two doors down. How would you feel, I asked, if a pet dumped you for another house? Undeterred, Dana informed me that cats tend to choose their people.

A self-serving argument, I countered. Some experts say cats don’t even like people all that much. “Living with a human being is an entirely practical arrangement as long as the conditions are favourable,” wrote a veterinarian I found via Google. Sadie had already proved that point. Not conclusive, Dana insisted, and would have none of it. She reiterated: cats choose you.

She may be right. Her relationship with that little beast is unlike anything I’ve ever seen: Sadie comes running when she hears Dana get home from work (she’s a barista; see one of her latte creations at the end of this post). Sadie seeks out Danas company and ignores everyone else. (She seems afraid of me, which is laughable, and runs at the sight of my guitar.)

A month or so ago I finally had a chat with Sadie’s real owners. They had just put a For Sale sign in their front yard, so clearly something had to give. Long story short: we all acknowledged the weirdness of the situation but they conceded that Sadie had ditched them. In mid-May a moving van showed up, and these neighbors were going going gone. It’s a done deal.

Throughout all this, Sadie has demonstrated remarkable hunting skills. She catches and kills her prey in our back yard, her happy hunting grounds (one reason, perhaps, she “chose” us). It’s overrun with mice and rabbits, and the occasional raccoon (but they’re twice her size, and Sadie keeps her distance).

She often leaves mangled caresses at the door: proof, Dana claims, that Sadie loves us.

Just this morning (my inspiration for writing these words) I saw her with a fresh victim, a baby bunny. She tortured it for a while before finishing it off.

When I went out to clean up the remains, I found bits of rabbit fur, one ear, inner organs I could not identify, and a not-so-lucky rabbit’s foot.

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