Life in the Slow Lane

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mousers on Break

Whiskers (Main Coon) & Tigger (Bengal) take a break from mousing
Although they have quite a ways to go before they reach the hallowed status of my childhood friend Dusty, champion mouser, Whiskers and Tigger have definitely come a long way since moving to the country. While Whiskers is more comfortable than Tigger outdoors, both of them have come to love roaming around the property, pretending they are the Great Hunters. Their 'inner cats' have been allowed to come out more.

Best Friends - Dusty & I, circa 1970
Dusty was a Blue Russian/Angora cross - his fur was a gorgeous blue/grey with a heavy undercoat, thick and luxurious, but not long or shaggy like a Persian's. His green eyes would hold my own and we would be happy just to be in one another's presence. Many hours were spent together - he hanging out with me in my bedroom or downstairs on my lap watching TV, me outdoors with him in the pasture as he hunted, etc. When I wanted him, I would call loudly in the yard, "Here, Dusty! Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty!", and within a few moments, I would see a small grey figure leaping and bounding through the pasture grass, running towards me.  His mother Smoky, a stray we took in, had had a hard life.  She wasn't with us long, but while she was, she had several litters, of which most the tomcats killed.  My Dad saved Dusty in the nick of time by hiding him in the hayloft.  Smoky spoiled Dusty rotten, giving him her full attention.  He grew up to be a happy, well-fed kitten, who benefited from his mother's hunting savvy, being taught the ins and outs of good hunting.  We observed her bringing in mice alive and dropping them right in front of Dusty, who was curious but puzzled.  Smoky showed him how to bat the mouse with a paw, which Dusty was scared to do at first.  She later brought more mice and this time demonstrated the kill, letting the mouse 'get away' but only so far, then hitting it hard with paw to stun it, then a quick bit to the neck or crush to the skull.  She let Dusty smell the dead mouse, then proceeded to start eating it in front of him.  Eventually, Dusty joined in and tasted a mouse.  He began to understand that this was what being a cat was all about.  Shortly thereafter his mother died after many attempts (area trappers catching her twice, living through one amputation and another near-one...)  His education stood him in good stead for the rest of his life, and he had his mother Smoky to thank...