I’ve found that having cats in the family is much different than having dogs in the family. Most cats like to sleep and perch in high places, whereas dogs prefer to be close to the ground. Cats typically are independent creatures and dogs often won’t leave your side even if you want them to go lie down. I find the biggest difference is the type of unwanted gifts they bring. Some of them are downright disgusting.
After all these years with my semi-feral cats, I still haven’t become accustomed to their need to hunt small critters and promptly leave the special gift on my doorstep, back deck, or in my garage. Sometimes they choose to devour the prize and then leave the regurgitated remains next to the shoes I leave outside.
I have a so-called squirrel-proof bird feeder for all the neighborhood birds to enjoy. The feeders are usually kept full with all kinds of yummy treats. Of course, the squirrels do their best to knock the feeder to the ground so they can partake in the goodies. Unfortunately, this leads to a perfect hunting spot for our cats, who also love the garden area where the feeders are located.
I’ve left trays of sunflower seeds and cracked corn out in the winter for the chipmunks and occasional garden mouse to eat. Things are a little more barren in the cold months, which makes it difficult for them to find food. This leads to more curious cats checking out the wildlife that visits.
Of course, I know by feeding the outside critters, it can make for easy pickings for my semi-feral cats. However, I want to make sure all the critters who live or visit my house receive a good meal. Luckily, after years of placing the seed outside, my cats don’t see it as being challenging enough to bother the critters near the feeders too often. Instead, they choose to hunt in the surrounding fields and woods. It makes things much more fun for them to bring the critter back alive to my driveway, play with it for a while and finally, when they’re bored, finish the helpless critter off.
Sometimes, I will catch the cats in the act of stalking the critter and can avert the otherwise inevitable outcome. If I see the cats pawing at the stacked stone that borders the fence that separates our backyard from our neighbor’s backyard, I know they’re looking for something for me. In between the rocks is a perfect hiding spot for a small chipmunk or skunk.
On one occasion, we had a friend over for a barbecue. It was a beautiful sunny day, so she drove her convertible and left the top down. Of course, our cats wanted our friend to feel welcome, so they decided to leave a special gift for her to take home. They chose to sit on the convertible, and to make sure our friend wouldn’t miss the special gift, they left it directly in front of the car so she could view it and accept it before she left our house.
It was a giant rat that was about a foot long, with an additional tail-length of another five inches. A not-so-nice going home present for our guest!
It’s times like those when I appreciate the cats hiding the dead remains in a place I can’t see. However, if their prize is hidden within smelling distance, there’s nothing worse than trying to find out from where the awful stench is emanating. For these occasions, it can become a lengthy search by yours truly. I’m just hoping I find the dead animal before my gag reflexes kick into high gear.
I’m getting much better at accepting these gifts from my cats. I know that it’s part of their nature to hunt for critters in the wild or in our back garden. In some ways, it’s a good thing for us. We no longer have an issue with moles, chipmunks, or squirrels destroying our garden and yard. The cats also look so proud of themselves when presenting us with such a grand prize. At this point, I simply thank the cats, reach for the dust pan and broom and dispose of the sacrificed critter, which is now known as my gift.
Do your cats bring you unwanted gifts? What disgusting things have they presented to you? Share your stories and pictures in the comments!
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About Tim Link: All-American guy, loves to rock out to Queen while consuming pizza and Pinot Noir, prefers to associate with open-minded people who love all critters, considered to be the literal voice for all animals – author, writer, radio host, Reiki Master, animal communicator and consultant. Visit www.wagging-tales.com.