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Cats and mice can be friends…

said no-one, ever.

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?

Edgar Allan Poe

Who knew that Brisco, our 14-pound fat, fat, fatty cat, a beast that embodies the very essence of incompetence, could catch mice? He can no more navigate a narrow windowsill or ledge without falling than he can unobtrusively sneak up on a potato bug. I’ve seen him stalk his prey, trundling toward it with chest puffed high, tail waving freely in the breeze, and a string of vocal Mrars foreshadowing his inevitable slow-motion pounce, likely with claws still sheathed. Even his color shouts,

Hey, here I am! Look at me, bird! Aren’t I just glorious?!

When he was a kitten, we questioned whether he even had a “kill” instinct, as he seemed quite content to merely play with the remains of birds or mice that Tica proudly brought home.

Tica has always been an exemplary hunter, pulling down birds (sadly), flies, giant spiders (yeah, Tica!), and even cornering a rat outside our apartment when we lived in Bellingham.

After years of watching Brisco grow from an adorable, but feisty kitten into a beautiful, and still feisty adult with zero apparent hunting abilities, we finally concluded he simply just didn’t get it.

We appreciated his bohemian attitude of Love and Peace and were grateful we only had to clear the carcasses from one cat off the back porch.

Then one day at our house in Eugene, he proudly showed up with a dead bird in his mouth, valiantly meowing through a mouthful of feathers.

I had not a doubt in my mind that he didn’t catch it. He’s clumsy. He’s not very bright. And we all know Brisco can’t hunt. So it surprised me when I approached him that rather than laying it at my feet, he growled ferociously and stalked out of reach, clutching his bird more tightly.

Three more birds appeared, deceased,  on the back porch that day.  We gave Tica a multi-day “time out” indoors to give the poor birds a break, knowing that of the two, she was the hunter and Brisco merely played with the spoils.

Oh how I was wrong!

Mice might not have been common at our house in Eugene, but their long-nosed Swiss cousins are thriving here, and Brisco has discovered them. I still wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen him catch two in a row, then languish on the back porch for close to a half hour tossing one of them up in the air to play catch. The other appeared unhurt when I intervened, so I set him free. On the same day, I found two more that were politely deposited near the front door.

Turns out, Brisco can hunt.

I dare say, Mr. Poe, that apparently the boundary between life and death lies between the paws of a cat.

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