Night Terrors and Reconciliation
Bloody marks streak the hallway linoleum and designate a killing floor where life is taken and usually consumed in the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes spare parts are left as gifts, creating their own patterns within the patchwork lines of the precut plastic flooring.
The morbidity is not lost on me as I routinely clean up hind legs, skulls, stomachs, tails, feathers, and sundry other animalian body parts from my floor, but most of my prior revulsion has slowly dissipated over time.
If you haven’t yet deduced, I am the proud owner of two wonderfully unique feline specimens who have become adept hunters. I insist on using my cat door so they can go in and out as they please since their mental health, and mine, thrives when they can escape the confines of the tiny house we also share with a large black dog.
However, the cat door does present its own problem: an entry for kills (and sometimes half living targets) to be brought into the house for later enjoyment. For a while I relegated myself to closing the cat door every evening, but that only produced 2 am mewling and window-blind-crawling as they tried everything they could to demonstrate their distaste for my radical decision. Choosing sleep over possible contagious diseases and fleas seemed like the best decision at the time, so I reopened the portal to the nocturnal world.
Many possible theories exist as to why my cats would do such dastardly deeds:
1. They are hungry.
- No chance, they are free feeders who I’m sure are in the most advantageous percentile for height and weight.
2. They are natural hunters.
- Ok, I can’t argue that. I’ve seen them stalk future snacks and it’s quite impressive. It doesn’t answer why they have to bring it in the house and often leave at least one little bit for me to clean up though.
3. Cats desire to show their owners love through gifts.
- Hmm, not exactly what I asked for, but sometimes it’s the thought that counts.
As I contemplated my options for solving the “blood on the bathroom floor and mouse heads on my doorstep” problem, I realized perhaps a lesson was hiding in the entrails. In addition to fulfilling their carnal desires, I do think they enjoy bringing their trophies back, showing me their worth and also their love. I find it somewhat reminiscent of bringing a hostess gift in order to show gratitude for hospitality and care.
My cats show me love in ways that are more explicit, but I think their nightly activities are also messages if I choose to read them as such. All creatures have their own love languages, some more baffling than others. One of the most complex emotions and aspects of life is love, and I’ve seen it manifest itself in many ways.
We all have different methods to show love, but often the message is lost in translation. Sometimes it flies by unrecognized and both parties are left feeling deflated, but if we can work to recognize each other’s actions and words as unique fingerprints of love, if that is the intent, understanding and acceptance are possible.
I still don’t revel in picking up mouse tails and bird wings, but I can clean them without much resentment anymore while the cat door stays breezy and the household more calm.
Am I sure love is my cats’ main drive?
The most likely theory is cats are assholes.