Blackbird’s Bane

The elder feline denizens of the House of Chaos have certainly taken to the newcomer. In fact, Zorro is uncharacteristically congenial towards the little tyke and both Lou-Garou and Bean Sidhe have developed a downright maternal behaviour towards Hrimnir. They have taken him under their paws so to speak, and that has some unexpected consequences.

For one thing Bean Sidhe finally has the playmate he has been looking for, although being so big and hulky he is remarkably gentle with Hrimnir. It is a delight to observe their antics when you see a cat 4 times the size of the kitten rolling all over the place with said kitten, kicking and biting the tyke, and yet not harming it. Bean Sidhe is huge but we forget that technically he is still a kitten: barely a year old and being partly Maine Coon (who need 3 years to become adult). One can clearly see that he is happy with Hrimnir, but he also tends to be disgustingly lazy. When the kitten stalks him he just lies there, tail-tip idly flicking to and fro, the very image of a Cat At Peace With The World and certainly not apprehensive of imminent attack by an 18-needled tiny buzz-saw. When the trap springs and Hrimnir gleefully pounces he simply… swats. One huge paw and gravity being quite enough to flatten the tyke and keeping him happily occupied with something to squirm under and munch on. When the kitten wriggles himself free from under the monster-paw and attacks him full-on he envelops the little one with his august rump and starts giving it some kicks and performing a few formidable chomps. One wonders whether Hrimnir would survive this, but even when the huge white-orange blob covers the entire kitten, and only a forlorn tail or hapless paw sticks out from under the mass, he will certainly not smother it. And when he goes too far by accident, which does happen from time to time, Hrimnir will let his displeasure be known by a literally ear-shattering but at the same time quite indignant wail.

Hence, Grumpy Man and Bouncing Psycho were mightily surprised last week when a different kind of wail erupted from the Kitchen of Chaos: shrieks they were not accustomed to, more like a bird’s. Homing in on the source of the sound they discovered that Hrimnir was well and thriving, thank you very much, but that someone else wasn’t. And it wasn’t feline either. It was a blackbird chick. One of the elder cats must have brought it in, a live specimen for the kitten to experiment his budding hunting prowess with. It took Hrimnir 3 hours though to end off the chick and Bouncing Psycho had ample time to grab the All-Seeing Eye and take pictures at his leisure.
The kitchen had just been cleaned that day. The kitchen was now full with tiny black feathers, one very thoroughly dead chick, and one extremely proud kitten.
Hrimnir – Blackbird population: 1-0.

Would it surprise you that this score changed in the following days ?
Because the next day, and I was home to witness it, Hrimnir was seen in the kitchen with yet another victim. Same species, same age, probably same nest. Again, one of the older felines must have brought it in and presented it to the happily murderous kitten, who promptly proceeded to try and trample it to death. Again, he needed some time for these proceedings to take place but again, in the end success was his and the body was left for The Mistress to dispose of. This time he had eaten from it as well. Or the older cats did.
Hrimnir – Blackbird population: 2-0

The next day Bean Sidhe brought in a mouse. But it wasn’t such a big success with the tyke. I guess a profound lack of feathers may have been the cause. Hrimnir has a thing with feathers.

Then, last Friday, we heard the by-now familiar shrieks from the garden, accompanied by the sound of a pair of very frantic birds being extremely upset and angry about something. It turned out Hrimnir was in the Garden of Chaos, entertaining himself with yet another Blackbird chick and this time supervised by all 3 cats ! The reason for the latter was immediately clear as 2 Blackbirds were swooping down towards the happily hunting kitten in defense of what must have been their offspring. Zorro, Loup-Garou and Bean Sidhe clearly were fascinated by the entire thing and had placed themselves strategically around the kitten in order to have some aerial fun themselves. The adult Blackbirds soon enough understood the danger of continuing their defense of the certainly doomed chick and retired to the branches of the nearby trees with angry mutters. And the 3 adult cats subsequently transferred their gazes and attention towards Hrimnir and his third chick. Hrimnir was having the time of his life, surely, but the chick soon grew exhausted and stopped moving. This was bad for the kitten’s attention span, as he would wander off in pursuit of better-moving prey, but equally bad for the chick’s chances of survival because the elder cats would then close in on it and have some fun themselves. They didn’t kill it though. They still left that to Hrimnir who would from time to time come back and have some more hunting experience. Which took up 2 days in the end, especially because the chick became quite adept at hiding himself. Such perseverance must be rewarded, and we threw him out of the garden and into the reach of his parents who promptly hid him, much to the chagrin of our felines. At this moment I hear its insistent calls for food. He’d better learn to shut up because the older cats are homing in.
Hrimnir – Blackbird population: 2-1

Now, you might think me cruel. You might be repulsed by the matter-of-factness of this report full of horrendous torture and heinous murder. But try to understand that this is simply Nature happening and a little kitten growing up. We simians tend to forget that our cuddly coddled pets are in fact descendants of fierce predators and that the instinct to hunt and kill is still strong in the felines. I do pity the chicks but I can’t help admire how the older cats instruct the little one and bring him live specimens to try out on, and he manages to learn his skills and grow more and more proficient at them each time. He’s only 10 weeks old now, but already a killer.

Picture below:
“Chomp chomp… give the neck-bitey…”

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“whaddoyoumean ‘wrong end’ ?”

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Don’t forget to visit the Friday Ark today and the Carnival of the Cats this Sunday ! There’ll be more peace and quiet there I guess…

Posted in Cats. 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Blackbird’s Bane”

  1. Leo Says:

    Are you telling me you let this poor bird suffer for this long without in some way helping it — taking it away from the cat, taking it to a rescue center? If so, unbelievable. I work in a wildlife facility where we see the extent of injuries inflicted by cats. The brutality of cat-inflicted injury is wretched. I love cats myself, I’ve rescued many a stray. But I would never allow my cat(s) to inflict this type of suffering on a bird if I was able to take the bird away.

    • Babeth Says:

      We are humans, but we are not omnipotent. When my cats attack and catch birds I can only stand aside and wonder about nature. My cats eat these birds. Your indignation can be real enough for you, but do you eat meat ? Do you wear leather shoes, belts, whatever ? What do you do about mice in your house ? Nature is nature, and when my cats catch a bird it belongs to them. Life and all. I cannot make vegetarians of my cats.
      The poor beasties would die.

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