Aw, Kitty is All Growed up!

October 14, 2009

We interrupt this blog silence to bring you the following fast-breaking news story:

howlsquirrel1

This is what I saw when came downstairs this morning. If you are an indoor-cats-only person or a squirrel lover, set aside your disgust for a moment and marvel with me at a tenderfoot kitty whose first kill is a grey squirrel. Which he then drags through a cat flap set in a basement window over a counter, holds while he leaps 3′ down from the counter, carries clear through the basement, up the stairs, and deposits on the breakfast room carpet.

First I simply turned around and left the room. I needed a minute to decide: should I give Howl positive reinforcement for hunting, or negative reinforcement for bringing the thing in the house? Positive, I decided. Delight and pettings. Until we moved to this area where they are a filthy, fearless, overpopulous menace and a gardener’s nightmare, I never minded grey squirrels. Now I would say that the difference between a dead squirrel on the porch a dead squirrel on the carpet is mere quibbling.

My next thought was, “Shoot. Der Mann took the bus to work today. I’m going to have to pick it up myself.”

Cats usually preen at you over their kills. Ours was clearly thinking, “What the hell just happened?!” He was all big eyes and nervy mincing when I praised him. He wanted it to move again. Once he even crouched under the rocking chair and gave it a half-pounce before sidling away. It must have been bigger project that he expected. It didn’t occur to him that he could eat it.

Howl spent the first 15 months of his life as an indoor cat. (The fact that he had never seen dirt before was a tip-off.) With three months outdoor experience, he still gives a bit of the impression of Marie Antoinette playing at rustic life. He picks his way over rocks and clods then shakes off each of his feet as if to say, “Oh dear. I really must get some boots for this sort of thing.” Gawps at stuff out in the open. Is scared (thankfully) of cars, but stalks a full grown dog. Races up trees for no reason like a kitten. Courts the local cats with interest, then faces off with them and loses.

The squirrel was a first for me too. First big-ish dead thing. I called my step dad to find out whether I should put it in the garbage, or what. I didn’t want to bury it in the yard because I am still planting everywhere, and it would be gross to dig it up by mistake in the spring. I was informed that garbage can or interment is a matter of choice.

Would you like to hear the gory details? Yes? I went to the garbage and fished out some of the burlap trimmed from a nursery tree. I folded this over itself a couple of times and threw it over the squirrel, followed by the big spongy plastic bag our computer monitor came packed in. Then after a false start the first time I touched the dead meatiness of the bulge in the center of the pile, sort of rolled it all up and stuffed it in the nice thick plastic bag my husband got from the art supply store last night. Then I twisted it up and put a twist-tie on it, and tied it shut with a knot for good measure. That way, I figured if the squirrel was just in a coma it would at least expire painlessly instead of trying to get out of the garbage can. It was still warm.

I e-mailed Der Mann a picture, and he sent back these:

squirrel slayer_1

squirrel slayer_2

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9 Responses to “Aw, Kitty is All Growed up!”

  1. Leigh Says:

    Good job Howl! When Catzee first started catching mice she had to bring them all in the house to show me. Except her’s weren’t dead yet. Rascal OTOH, is very nonchalant about his kills. Fortunately they stay outside,which has included one squirrel so far.


  2. Awwwww, kitty is clearly bringing you a love gift. It’s amazing to me that a cat that was obviously mistreated or neglected until you brought him home has overcome his early terrors and found his natural cat instincts. Good job, parents!

    In the Seattle area, we’re allowed to put meat and other food scraps into the compost bin — I wonder if dead or comatose squirrels would be allowed?

  3. deborahbee Says:

    Apart from being completely bonkers I find any post from you irresistable. Please give my congratulations to aforesaid cat plus suitable commiserations to one grey squirrel!! We have too many round here9ssssssssquirrels not cats) and we have to devise more and more creative ways of keeping them off our bird feeders.

  4. Dot Says:

    WOW!!! What a cat!

    My Oscar used to pile up the dead rats he’d caught overnight in the outhouse, and he dragged huge great live magpies in the through his cat flap, but he never succeeded in catching a grey squirrel and he certainly tried his best. Howl is an impressive hunter. He must be very fast and cunning.

    By the way, first job we have here every morning is collecting the entrails and left over bits of rodents of the living room floor and I bury them in the garden. However, our little female cats only catch the small kinds of rodents.

  5. Cally Says:

    Well done, Howl, what a hero. I’d be glad if Phoebus turned his attention to mice rather than fighting with the other cat in the street! We have to be careful re squirrels though, and train the cats to go for the grey not the red…

  6. Suzan Says:

    That cat is looking rather stunned at his feat. The photos capture the angst perfectly.

  7. Sheila Says:

    Loved your story. Cats 1, Squirrel 0. Overcoming your disgust with the disposal: 100. Even the dogs can’t seem to catch the gray squirrels around here… they’d be so embarrassed if I told them your cat did it all by himself.

  8. trapunto Says:

    Leigh– I don’t think I could handle live ones. The point of a cat is to REDUCE the number of mice in the house! I bet you’re glad she got through that phase.

    Hey, Spinninglizzy. I like the idea. But why stop with the home composter? Roadkill Compost: now at fine garden centers everywhere. I think it was Seattle where you used to be able to dial 1-800-***-POOP to get information on “Zoo-doo” through the local zoo–composted zebra manure and stuff like that.

    Hi Deborah! Thanks. I’ll take that as a compliment.

    Dot, your Oscar was a real Hercules! It takes a strong stomach to live in the world of the carnivore. Dead rats plus outhouse equals yuck! You can’t very well avoid them, there. Was the outhouse your normal arrangement? Your cats must have a lot of fun at night. The barn cats where we used to live ate everything but the gall bladder.

    Cally, hello. No red squirrels here. Do they get along with the grey?

    Suzan: Stunned, exactly.

    Sheila–I’m pretty sure it was a one-off for Howl. I wish I could have seen how it happened. I’m guessing the squirrel was totally distracted!


  9. […] all the way up from the basement to the worm-play area in the kitchen.  I had begun to think the squirrel he bagged back in October was a one […]


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