The Writing

28 July, 2017

blaming the victim

Skugga killed a hummingbird. This is not astonishing on a basic level--he's a cat, and cats kill things, especially birds. But it is astonishing because he's an indoor cat who only gets supervised patio privileges. He's not especially ambitious, as cats go. Happy to watch. Not as excited about moving.

So it's clearly the hummingbird's fault. Or hummingbirds' fault. There were three bombing around yesterday, fighting over the feeder. Two of them are seasonal interlopers, an Allen and a Rufus. The black-headed green male--the victim--is, was, the resident and the smallest. They passed into patio airspace, while Skugga was lying flat and observing ("You don't see me. I am the big black fuzzy carpet here on this concrete.") and then next I know, there's movement (the wildflowers in their pot are waving, as if something has brushed against them) and Skugga comes scuttling inside, with something green in his mouth.

Truth: I thought it was a Japanese beetle, first, and that was the tone of panic when I yelled for Nous. Then I realized it was a bird, and the panic turned into a morbid curiosity. Skugga wanted to bring his prize to the kitchen (of course. Across the living room.) and then play with it a little, and he was not keen on letting anyone close (Nous, esp. There was growling). Louhi, too, got a faceful of fuck-off, which she heeded.

Anyway. The bird didn't die fast; there was one round of drop it, bat it, oh! it fluttered! But then came a crunch and that was, very clearly, a broken neck. And then came a million very tiny feathers. Eventually, I got it, and Skugga, back outside, where there were more feathers, and some blood, and an eventual burial in a fallow flower pot.

This is what passes for excitement here, yes.

Skugga's the first of a 20+ year parade of cats who's ever killed something other than bugs. And he, my big-boned Maine Coon mix, launched straight up and snatched the hummer mid-flight. Like, goddamn sam, that's some athletic ability. I know, I know, he's a cat, that athleticism comes pre-loaded; but it's cool to see in action, so to speak.

I, however, feel a little guilty, too. See, Idris caught a lizard, but did not kill it, and I yelled at him to make him let go. (The lizard lived.) I felt bad about that, not for the lizard's sake, but for Idris's--he was so obviously shocked and upset that I was upset. So I did not yell this time, and let Skugga keep his bird, even though I realized it wasn't quite dead and I could've rescued it.

And also: I feed these hummingbirds. This little dead bird--he's the one who used to sit on the branch over the patio, chasing the female when she got too close. He wasn't afraid of Nous or me. He knew there are cats here. Wouldn't ever get below feeder height while they were outsides. But yesterday, he was too busy worrying about the other hummers coming after him, and he forgot. So yes, the cat did it, but the hummingbirds are culpable. The Allen and the Rufus enabled the fatal situation with their hostile territorial chirpings and divings. And the victim knew better. Negligence, on the part of all hummingbirds!

You can't take your eye off something that will kill you. Ever.