I love my cat.
Anyone who knows me well, knows in many ways, he's why I exist or quite possibly why I still exist. He sets my schedule. He makes me wonder, worry and at times, most times, makes me feel important. I sense he knows this and there are days he plays this against me and others allows me to appreciated feeling in needed. He senses my moods, when humans can not, but unlike them, he shows deference, always.
He also likes to hunt.
His tally of field mice is in the thirties, and that is merely the number I know of. He has eaten some whole, but usually shows those to me first. He occasionally comes home with feathers stuff to his whiskers. That number is much lower. Being vegan, for moral reasons, the deaths bother me. I then put myself in his mind and realize it's these instincts, skills if you may, that set him apart from humans. He is not doing it for sport, but at times, to feed me. In his mind, I am aloof and can not fend for myself. In most humans minds, we own cats, but I know better. The mice and the birds are his way of providing for me, and he only takes from them what he needs to survive, the rest is mine. I decline, always.
He has a taste for rabbits.
I don't advertise this, because as someone who once had a family member with a pet rabbit, it hurts to see them dead. I only knew of one, until the other night. I had left the screen door open and when I returned, he was trying to get at something. I thought he had brought a mouse back in, but when I heard a noise, I immediately became worried. It was obviously something larger. I moved my night stand just enough to find a tiny rabbit, breathing heavily and on it's side. I scooped it up in a pair of shorts and cradled it. It's breathing was frantic. As I walked outside, I saw a clump of hair. There was more to it, but we'll say hair. I locked the cat inside and stepped out. I placed the rabbit down and unwrapped the cloth. There was blood and the rabbit didn't move. I picked him up. Took him inside and tended to his wounds as if I would a small child. I held him securely and let the cat back out. I laid on my bed and stroked the rabbits head. The breathing slowed and nestled in arms. I know most people would worry about a disease, but that's not how I think. Despite what some would call arrogance, I put others first, always.
My cat was busy taking apart another rabbit. I found scattered parts, innards and fur on the deck. I quickly disposed of it as I'd let him back in. I must have had a lapse of judgment or maybe subconsciously I knew I couldn't save the rabbit and left him for the cat. When I came back in, there was the rabbit, wrapped in a fresh white towel, small body gently raising and lowering and the cat, a few feet away, slumbering, his breath almost in tune with the rabbits. The only breath and heart racing was mine. I cleared out the clothes in a drawer and used bedding from another house pet and created a cave for the rabbit. I fed him leafy greens and water. I think he ate, but I can't be sure.
Morning came and the cat wandered up to the dresser, tried to peak inside and I stopped him. I went through my routine and attempted to check the rabbit. He'd soiled the towel and the small was horrible. I knew I had to make a decision. A phone call provided no help, as they don't take wild rabbits. I thought about what was humane, what was just and what I in my heart could and couldn't do. I couldn't keep him, or maybe I could, but simply didn't wish to watch him suffer. So I picked him up, in my hands. Gently stroking his soft ears. I walked barefoot in the dew soaked grass. It was cold on my feet and the human side of me felt guilt. Would he be warm enough. I placed him in a patch of high grass that looked as though it had been tamped down by tiny feet. I had seen other rabbits there and in my scattered mind, I felt they could help him. I placed him down and he quickly started to flail. I realized that his side was still hurt and he possibly had broken his leg. I turned him over and the calm set in. He laid there, helpless and I felt every ounce of it. As if looking at my own life recently. Tears tolled down my face as I pulled the tall grass over to give him some shelter from the morning sun. I told myself this was the right thing to do, but I know in my heart, I could have done more. I normally do.
I thought about his suffering and almost hoped a larger animal, like of the many hawks flying overhead, had swooped down and done in nature what I didn't have the courage to do. As the sun began to set, I worried he was still out there suffering and I couldn't stand it. I walked back over. The grass not dry and cut into the bottoms of my feet. I almost relished the pain. I deserved the hurt. I found the spot and there he was. I leaned in and looked at his tiny body. There was no movement. Tears welled up and I apologized profusely. I apologized for myself, not for the cat. As I returned inside, I tried to compose myself. As I splashed water on my face, I felt the familiar soft brush of fur on my ankle. Later that night, as he curled up on my leg, he stared up at my reddened eyes. He let out a sigh and went to sleep. He seems to fully understand my world and realizes I will never understand his. We human try to do "our best," but when it comes to nature, we fail, always.