Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Yes, Cats Are Killers; What Else Is New?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Yes, Cats Are Killers; What Else Is New?

Article excerpt

The media lately is full of the revelation about cats that a lot of well-seasoned owners have known for a long time -- cats are killing machines.

From "kitty cams" to experts who put the yearly slaughter of birds and mammals in the billions, it's been "discovered" that the feline is not a docile, slobbering pet who collapses in feigned joy at the feet of its master, but a wild beast who tolerates humans for providing a safe place to rest after the carnage.

My parents' generation kept cats for precisely their nature, just as the ancient Egyptians deified and mummified cats for guarding the granaries.

Cats are natural-born killers of rodents, yet for years few owners paid little attention to their efficient disposal of flying things as well. Perhaps they should have, but they didn't let Felix hang around the house all day.

Before litter boxes, cats were tossed outside at night, expected to prowl for the mice and rats that were common 60 to 70 years ago even in my middle-class neighborhood where garbage was dumped in cans out back before the invention of plastic bags, hence a rodent magnet.

Dogs were also allowed to roam around in those primitive times, making the old neighborhood look a lot like Mexico still does.

*

My parents' tabby Sam (named for a Bing Crosby tune, "Sam's Song," big at the time) would periodically require a veterinarian visit to treat his infected rat bites. Recovered, he'd be back out on the front lines, keeping Sheraden free of bubonic plague.

Despite his battle scars, Sam lived well into his teens, just like my powerful grey tom, Alexi. But, unlike Sam, Alexi was neutered and had his own swinging door that allowed him to come and go as he pleased. Convenient, sure, but unpleasant at times when he brought his victims home, some still wriggling in his grasp.

I was awakened one summer night by the sound of crunching bones. …

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