It’s 3:41 a.m. and I can still hear the echoes of tiny jaws crunching tiny bones. I can still see the headless body hanging from the mouth of my sweet, innocent baby.
We recently adopted a kitten. We were told by the humane society that she was approximately 12 weeks old and had been part of a colony of feral cats. Waiting for us, her green eyes brimming with equal parts hope and fear, was Alyss.
Alyss might weigh 2 pounds. Whenever I pick her up, I am shocked at how little there is of her. For the past 5 days, she has worked her way firmly into our hearts. We’ve been quite worried as she literally has not eaten since right after we brought her home. As the days have gone on, she’s grown steadily more lethargic prompting me to jump thru all sorts of hoops to get her to eat. Little did I know that she was waiting for a real meal…
Today, we were heartened to see her show more of an interest in food. I dutifully scooped out tiny spoonfuls of baby food microwaved it to a lukewarm temperature. I pureed a particularly foul mixture called “Seafood Buffet” so that her tiny, delicate teeth could handle it. I fed her every 2 hours (as recommended by a vet and friends) and let her feed off the end of my finger. I diligently monitored her water intake and the number of times she used the litter box.
I took up nightly residence on the sofa, cuddling Alyss’ tiny body next to mine. She quickly grew to trust me and spent her nights curled in the crook of my arm, purring. It was gratifying to earn her trust and to know that she depended on me, as she was tiny and helpless. I was also exhausted.
Tonight, I said adios to the kids and husband and made my way upstairs. Alyss would have to fend for herself tonight – sleep with one of the kids or in her rather expensive kitty condo we purchased for her (complete with not one but two scratching posts). At 3:30 a.m., I had to pee so I figured I’d check on her. I grabbed a pillow and walked downstairs only to find that she was…nowhere.
Or, rather, she was somewhere nearby but I couldn’t see her. I could hear her playing with something. Yay! She was clearly getting her energy back and exhibiting the natural nocturnal tendencies of a healthy cat. I lay down on the sofa expecting her to join me for a nice cuddle. She did not. She continued to play under the dining room table – I could see her in dim flashes of white. I felt rather insulted after a few minutes. I was no longer the center of her universe. And then, I heard it.
Fumbling for the light switch, I was taken back to my childhood. My mother was a cat lady. At one point we had 22 cats (not all indoors thank God);one of the first photos of me was in a playpen buried under a blanket of cats. All of these cats were well, cat-like. They tolerated the humans but by and large they were semi-wild. They killed things all the time and crunched on their bones. Sometimes under our dining room table…
As I stood in my dining room listening to that sound, I kept trying to tell myself that she was chewing on a ball or a piece of dried pasta that had fallen under the table. I’m not the best housekeeper; God knows what she was chewing on – it could be a deadly plastic twist-tie for all I knew. I started to move the dining chairs, as I did so, I noticed Alyss taking evasive action. Had it just been a plastic twist tie, she wouldn’t have tried so hard to keep me from it.
Nope, in my gut I knew the truth: my baby was a natural born killer.
I made a grab for her and she dropped what was in her mouth. I saw the unmistakeable tail of a mouse right before she dropped it. I got a plastic bag, picked up the little carcass. and tossed it onto the deck. I shook my husband awake. “You need to get up. Now.” I dragged him out of bed and onto the back deck in his underwewar, in the rain.
“Open the bag,” I commanded in a loud whisper. He refused. I opened it and showed him the remains of The Headless Mouse.
“Where’s the head?”
“Somewhere between here and the sofa.” I could feel bile rising in my throat as I said it. He announced his intention to go back to bed. I’ll have lawyers draw up the papers in the light of day.
We have two very heavily patterned rugs in our living/dining room. Mouse heads, especially mangled ones, are likely to be…small. And, well, mangled. My first biggest fear is that one of the kids will stumble across it. My second biggest fear is that I will. It’s 4:10 a.m. and I really want to get the vacuum cleaner out…
After I post this, I will Google something along the lines of “Can cats eat entire mouse heads?” and see what comes up. There will be no more sleep for me this night – I don’t dare leave her. I look across the living room towards the kitchen. She is on high alert in front of the oven. Please God, no more death tonight. I hate mice but don’t want to be stumbling over pieces of them in the morning.
I’m going back to bed. Hopefully I’ll be safe from the sound of crunching bones up there. Good night, Alyss. She looks at me and blinks her green eyes. She turns back to the oven, waiting. Hoping.