81: The Moth Hunters

81: The Moth Hunters

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat

The Moth Hunters

Fun fact: A group of grown cats is known as a “clowder.” A group of kittens is called a “kindle.”

One evening, after a long day of classes, I was home relaxing and reading in our living room. I had inadvertently let a moth in with me, which flitted about aimlessly. Several of my cats had noticed, and their interest was piqued. It continued to float about, as moths do, but unaware that four hunters sat in a circle below, waiting patiently for it to come closer.

The cats worked in tandem, two calling for the hapless bug, the other two prepared to capture their quarry. Samantha, a plump orange Tabby, and Coco, a Siamese with piercing blue eyes, alternated calling for the bug. Samantha chittered like a mouse might, while Coco caterwauled. Somehow this seemed to entice the moth to glide lower and lower until it was in range of the two designated monster slayers: Sammy and Kitticus. Sammy was a loveable, black-and-white, high-maintenance fluff ball and not a very adept hunter. Kitticus was also black and white, but unlike Sammy he was a wily, patient stalker with a goatee and the attitude of a Roman gladiator.

As the moth flew lower at the beckoning of the two criers, the two hunters waited for it to fly low enough to be captured. This, of course, was where Sammy was not an asset to the team. Each time the moth flew halfway down to them, Sammy would bolt and jump into the air, flailing wildly at the moth and almost never connecting. This would cause the moth to fly high again, forcing the group to repeat the process. Each time, without fail, Sammy would repeat the same error, which engendered dirty looks from his hunting party. At one point, Kitticus, who never jumped early from his position, whacked Sammy several times on the head when an attempted assault caused him to land right on Kitticus’s head.

This process went on for ten minutes with the same results every time. It was four cats versus one tiny moth and the moth was winning.

Then Murphy, the fifth cat, entered the room.

Murphy was a unique cat. If Kitticus was a Roman gladiator, then Murphy was the grand champion of the Coliseum. He was a brawler by nature; when one of the other cats did something he didn’t like, he would let them know. Most of the cats, except Kitticus, seemed to fear him — keeping their distance and respecting his space. Kitticus would often scrap with Murphy, like some contest for dominance, but would lose every time. You could sense the respect Kitticus had for Murphy.

Murphy was also the most able hunter of all five, despite his long orange hair being a disadvantage. Yet, he seemed to have no interest in the moth. He took in the situation, watching all the cats for a few minutes (after their brief pause upon seeing him, of course). He then jumped up on top of the old-fashioned box television and curled up, watching the peons beneath him continue their attempts to get the moth.

By this point, the moth was about halfway from the doorway to the television, where the king himself was sitting. He yawned and stretched, rolling onto his back in the process. He slung his head over the front of the TV, watching them all upside-down, seemingly amused by their display. The debacle continued, but this time Kitticus nearly snagged the moth because Sammy had finally developed enough patience to let it fly low enough. A few more minutes passed, and the moth now floated in front of the TV, about three or four feet from the screen.

Murphy sat up and watched the moth with an intensity he hadn’t exhibited before. Samantha and Coco called for the moth, their mouths watering for this delectable meal they had all spent the last half-hour trying to get. The moth descended as before, with the four waiting patiently below, but this time they would not get their chance. Murphy dove from the top of the TV and caught the moth between his front paws, dragging the poor creature down to earth and crushing it beneath him. Before the other cats could react, he ate it. The look on their faces was priceless! They all seemed so dejected. Here they had expended all this energy trying to hunt the moth, and yet Murphy accomplished it all in seconds while he lounged about almost the entire time.

Samantha walked past him, looking at the ground and dragging her feet like a two-year-old child who doesn’t want to go to bed. Sammy hissed at Murphy and went upstairs. Coco complained and complained and complained until Murphy turned and swiped the air near him; that made Coco flee the room. Kitticus sat motionless, staring at Murphy with a look of hatred in his eyes. Murphy locked eyes with him, and the two remained that way for five minutes until Kitticus decided to leave. That was one of the last times they were all together.

Now, several years later, only Kitticus is still around, but that night with the moth has given me a fond memory of each of those special companions and their unique personalities.

~Sean V. Cronin

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