85: Fetch

85: Fetch

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

Fetch

Fun fact: Tortoiseshell describes a coat coloring found almost exclusively in female cats.

KC is a nine-pound, tortoiseshell cat with refined tastes, at least as far as toys are concerned. Most of the cat toys I bought for her lay untouched in a box or on the living room floor. After spending bunches of money on glitter balls, spongy golf balls, catnip-filled frogs made of denim, and other expensive cat baubles that she disdained, I finally hit upon something she actually played with — those three-for-ninety-nine-cents paper mice covered with a thin coat of fur — the ones with the tails made of fuzz-covered faux leather. They came in multiple colors. These three were orange, white, and black.

To my excitement, when I tossed one of the artificial creatures across the room, KC bounded after it. Unlike all the other toys that she sniffed and walked away from, this one she started batting around and pouncing on.

Soon, a game developed between the two of us. The first time it happened, I was watching TV. I felt her familiar head-bump against my shin. Like always, I bent down to scratch her back, but this time I noticed a neon orange mouse at my feet. I tossed it down the hall, and just like a dog, KC went tearing after it. After batting it around for a bit, she brought it back and laid it at my feet. Again I threw it. Again, she chased. My kitty had discovered the game of fetch.

The game soon progressed to another level. Normally when KC felt it was time for me to awaken, she would leap onto the bed and plant herself on my chest, making sure she was the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes. This particular morning, something was a bit different. She walked across my chest and sat next to me. When I sat up, I understood why. Falling from my chest onto my lap was a little white mouse with red felt eyes. KC stared at me expectantly as if I should be able to read her mind. I flung her toy out the bedroom door and down the hall. Digging her back claws into my leg, she used my lap as a springboard, narrowly missing what could have been quite a painful injury to me.

I plopped back onto the bed. Less than a minute later, she pranced back into the bedroom, her favorite toy in her jaws. She leapt onto the bed and dropped the folded paper with only a little fuzz remaining (it hardly resembled a critter anymore) onto my chest. Without sitting up this time, I again threw the orange mouse out the door. Again, she gave chase.

Like most cats, KC enjoys routine. After a week, our game of fetch had become a ritual. Some mornings, I’d wake up to find a mouse on my chest, around my feet or next to me. Sometimes, I’d have to do a little searching and find it in a fold of the bed sheets. Usually after the third round of toss-and-retrieve, she’d get lazy, and I’d find it on the floor next to the bed.

One morning, I was woken as usual by paws walking across my chest. As KC passed, she dropped her toy onto the bridge of my nose. In a semiconscious state, I picked up her toy, ready to fling it out the door, but something was off. This was a little bit heavier, and the fur felt way too soft. I opened my eyes, and realization struck. This was not a toy. Nor was it inert. A live mouse twitched in my fingers.

Normally, I am not all that squeamish, especially around mice, but the shock and surprise made me hurl that mouse harder and faster than any toy. Of course, KC tore after it.

As I sat on the edge of my bed, waiting for my heartbeat to return to something close to normal, KC pranced back in and dropped the mouse, now dead, at my feet. I didn’t know if it was the cat that finally did it in, or my throw, but two things I knew for certain: One, I had mice in the house, and two, my little kitty was a darn good hunter.

~David Fingerman

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