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Monday, October 04, 2010  

Food Chain

As previously mentioned, M. Edium had been agitating for another pet for some time. Like lots of children, he's learned that the key to getting what he want is to make sure certain key words are included in the request. In this case, the majority of his entreaties for a new animal incorporated the vital phrase, "when the cats die."

Yes, we've been a cat household ever since we lived in apartments that didn't allow dogs, and of course M. Edium loves the cats. He picked out Exie himself and everything. But he's been hoping for a non-feline pet of his own for a year or so. You know how it is when you have a kid. Every week he wants something different for his birthday or Christmas, so when it's time to do the actual shopping it's impossible to remember what he actually wants (although last month he asked for a skateboard and a pogo stick, which I'm going to remember because at least those will keep him active and busy, until he crashes and burns, which will keep him in bed).

And yet there are common threads. He wanted either a turtle or a small rodent for quite some time, which we always refused on the grounds that the cats will eat it. But as often happens, our resistance to an idea of his turns out to be unfounded. In this case it's because Phantom and Exie have proven to be really shitty predators.

I think many of us cat owners like to flatter ourselves that our domestic felines aren't all that removed from their killer counterparts in the wild, that if the size differential were reversed, we'd be feeding Fluffy not with carefully measured kibble but with our own giblets. It was natural for us to assume that if one of the cats got even a glimpse of Bucky, the only questions would be 1) how much would they play with him before eating him, and 2) whether they'd yak him back up on M. Edium's upper or lower bunk.

When we first set up Bucky's cage on M. Edium's dresser -- which is five feet high -- we declared his bedroom a cat-free zone, at least when we weren't in there with them. We'd check the room for cats and close the doors behind us whenever we left the room. This lasted about three days, which is when we noticed that the cats didn't seem even remotely aware of Bucky's existence.

This got boring, so eventually we decided to just hold the cats up and let them see him. Their reaction upon seeing what I'm sure they thought was a mouse (given that their grasp of taxonomy isn't sufficient for them to distinguish between a moth and a dust bunny) puttering around in a cage was immediate and galvanizing: Whatever. Put me down now.

During a couple of tornado warnings, when all six of us were in the basement, Bucky's cage sat on the sofa table. Exie watched him with interest, but no apparent hunger, and eventually got bored. Bucky, who jumps with fear if you talk too loud, move too quickly or drop his cage on the floor, didn't seem to alter his routine at all. At least, not to the extent that I've been able to determine a routine.

The other night, Exie managed to get up onto the narrow strip of real estate between the front of Bucky's cage and the edge of M. Edium's dresser. Somehow balancing his large furry ass, he sniffed at Bucky curiously. Bucky, face to face with a mass of teeth, claws and fur a hundred times his size, just sniffed back. I think at one point, their noses actually touched between the bars.

I may have misjudged the situation. Perhaps one day Bucky will eat all of us.

posted by M. Giant 7:02 AM 2 comments

2 Comments:

My pet rat used to bite at the cats' noses if they were stupid enough to sniff around his cage. When he was out and scampering around the living room, they wouldn't even get close. They were afraid of him!

By Anonymous Amy, at October 4, 2010 at 4:37 PM  

I had a hamster when I was 10 or so - my rodent-despising mother eagerly awaited the day our Siamese cat would take it out.

Imagine her frustration when, one night, she discovered it had gotten out of its cage. It was strolling down the hallway from my room - and my dear cat was walking next to it, escorting it safely.

- JeniMull

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 7, 2010 at 1:07 AM  

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