A cat’s relationship with a bug is sometimes … uncertain. Is it a plaything? A diversion? A snack? I asked my cat, Stella, what’s really going on when she corners a creepy-crawly.
Stella, sometimes I notice you playing with bugs. What’s really going on there?
Oh, that depends on the bug.
What about that fella I saw you with earlier?
Harold? We’ve been palling around for a few weeks now.
Aww, that’s sweet.
He’s a pill bug. We play with Luis in the bedroom.
And here I was worried you were behaving inappropriately. Wait, who’s Luis?
There’s a spider in the bedroom?
Sure. Given the reputation of pill bugs, Franz and Marko weren’t too sure about Harold at first, but Luis vouched for him.
I see. Franz and Marko?
A beetle and a grasshopper, respectively. And I suppose I should mention Claude.
Black vine weevil, currently nursing an injured tarsal claw.
Huh. All this goes on in my bedroom?
Sure. It’s our territory. Oh, we have a great time, lounging around in the quiet evenings during peacetime, telling stories of our adventures.
I guess that’s OK, as long as you’re all friends. Say, what do you mean by peacetime?
Just the standard definition. Periods of calm between all-out war.
Hold on. War?
War, scrapes, battles, skirmishes, invasions, what have you. It’s sort of an umbrella term.
Invasions of what, exactly?
Take your pick. You want to go room by room?
You can go room by room?!
More or less. Think of the house as split into seven distinct hotspots subject to seasonal population flare-ups of various insect —
Wait, populations? My house has POPULATIONS of bugs?!
I’m using the scientific term. Or rather, the geopolitical-warfare term. Let’s start with spring, when the number of bedbugs —
— skyrockets in the guest bedroom.
Relax. We knock them out in days, once the spider babies mature and we enlist them to shore up our right flank.
Though, invariably that tests our alliance with the cockroach army in the kitchen, given their appetite for spider babies.
And naturally, all bets are off if a giant water bug gets into power and we have to call in the grasshopper assassins.
From the utility closet. I’m frankly amazed you’re surprised by this. You should keep better tabs on who lives in the house.
You should have told me, Stella! YOU’RE A TALKING CAT.
I don’t like to brag, especially when it comes to slaughtering a colony of boll weevils.
One thing I don’t get: What do you do with all the carcasses?
What do you mean?
Why don’t I see any dead bugs around?
I thought my general demeanor fairly screamed obligate carnivore.
Ahhh! You eat the bugs! You said you didn’t eat bugs!
I IMPLIED I wouldn’t eat HAROLD. But 12 roaches after the Battle of the Linoleum? Pass a napkin.
I’m going to be sick, Stella.
Hey, that’s the price you pay for keeping me indoors. This wouldn’t happen if I could go after a chicken.
That’s it. I’m calling an exterminator.
Fine. But let me get that potato bug under your bed first. He’s grown fat and happy, and I don’t like it.
Thumbnail: Photography ©slyudmila | Getty Images.
Eleven-year-old Stella, a Bengal, has a firm grip on her handler, freelance writer Michael Leaverton, whom she rescued from an alt weekly many meals ago. They live in San Diego.