"Live and let live!" or "A Moral Tale (Tail)".

I love cats but I also hate their predatory habits especially when they have a good home and regular meals. A feral cat would be more excusable for taking birds etc., Years ago I had a doctor who was a vegan and who loved all animal/bird life. He took my daughter and me into his garden once to see how his pets all lived peacefully together. His cats were vegetarian! Chickens walked freely both in the garden and in the kitchen. His pet sheep walked into the house and snuggled up with the dog – also vegetarian. He seemed to have influenced them right from birth to live in this way.

I liked the idea very much but never attempted to copy him with our own pets among which were three cats (siblings). They wore collars with little bells on which they mysteriously removed! Sometimes we might find a discarded one somewhere but more often they were never seen again.

The cats usually brought back their catch, or left their remains for us to admire so we would find blood and gore, feathers, rabbits’ tails, beaks, long green legs and feet (moorhen), dead frogs, mice and voles to mention but a few of the surprises that awaited us on the kitchen floor in the morning. We learnt never to go down with bare feet! There was a cat flap for them to use and we did consider locking it at night to keep them in or out but that presented problems – three litter trays for instance or cats unable to escape through their bolt hole from something chasing them.

During the day or evening they deposited their trophies at our feet, dead or alive. This resulted in a mad chase to catch and put outside the poor creature or, in some cases, despatch it!

We got our first sight of the terrible suffering from myxomatosis that rabbits’ endured in those days (the 1960s – 70s). Our cats seemed to find rabbits a delicacy! Being blinded they were ‘sitting ducks’ to them.

One day when I was alone and lying on the sofa unwell, I watched one of our cats, Blotchy, eating a rabbit on the lawn. He started at the head and proceeded all the way down to the little fluffy white tail which remained on the grass with some fluffy bits of fur. I related this to our three children when they came home from school, explaining that I just couldn’t prevent it happening. They all tried to ignore him as a punishment, but he was such a beautiful, adorable cat it didn’t last for long and anyway, he wouldn’t have understood.

Unfortunately, the following day the cat seemed to be in pain and couldn’t jump up as he usually did. He didn’t want to eat and we scolded him gently and said it was his own fault as he had been greedy. Then I realized it was more serious and decided to take him to the vet for an examination. After explaining what had happened about the large meal, the vet said he didn’t think that would be the cause and suggested we leave the cat overnight preparatory to a more thorough examination the next day.

A telephone call next morning asking if he could perform an operation as he thought there was a growth in his abdomen lead to my consent. Some hours later another call informed me that the cat had died as a result of an allergy to the anaesthetic that had been used, although a very good one . It was a repeat of what had happened to the mother cat when she was taken to be spayed.

Oh! Catastrophe!

Buckets of tears later I realized I should have been brave and accepted the body for us to bury in a corner of the garden. It would have been a special place where we could remember him, although he was always in our minds and hearts wherever we were!

I have often wondered if he really had died. He was such a gorgeous cat and the vet had expressed great admiration for him. Supposing he had decided to keep him for himself? Or maybe he wanted him for someone else who had taken a fancy to him?

Other ideas crossed our minds.

Exceptional cats’ fur was bought for commercial use. Or maybe the vet had had him stuffed?

………………It took years for our grief to subside.

left to right

Blotchy, Nicky and Tiggy (female)

We called him Blotchy because he wasn’t striped like the other two. When their mother, Scatticat, was giving birth one night, my husband and I gave a running commentary to the sleepy children in their beds as each kitten was born. Tiggy was first and striped like a tiger. Her coat was not so long and luxurious as the boys’. Next came Nicky, also striped and finally the last one who was hard to describe. I said, “This one is different. His fur looks more blotchy without the stripes.” So their names stuck.

Blotchy is the one with his back to us and Nicky is reaching up to him whilst lying on his back.

Tiggy (below) was always “Little miss Touch me not!” Jan was the one who succeeded in handling her the most. Never- the- less she was a dear little cat and they all were very much loved and had happy lives.


16 Jul, 2010
wagger said:

While I dislike cats' (including my own) prediliction for birds and small mammals I don't feel we have the right to force our own ethical choices onto them. I'm glad to see that yours lead a happy, healthy, normal life.

16 Jul, 2010
mactumpshie said:

my yorkie loves cats but he has never been able to finish one

16 Jul, 2010
aster said:

We have had cats in the past,then dogs. We too had to put up with 'gifts' being brought home.Even with your vets cats being vegetarian I would have thought they'd still have the instinct to stalk and play with creatures even if they didn't eat them.
I feel if we bring them into our homes and gardens we have to accept certain behaviours from them.Unfortunately if not your cats then probably neighbours.

17 Jul, 2010
jane said:

Oh Lyn..such happy memories of your beautiful cats...They only do what is their instinctive behaviour...we cannot legislate for that...nor should we try...Nature in the raw..whether we like it or not !

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