Earlier today, I caught my cat feasting on a bird that she just killed, guts and all. I had to pry her away from her prey. It's horrifying to see our nice little kitty as a cold-blooded meat eater, but this scenario has happened so many times. I can't even count how many dead or traumatized little field mice that I have release back to the wild (or served as hedge fertilizer in our yard). I'm getting really good at winging dead mice from our front porch all the way to our voluminous hedges about 15 yards away.
Just before Christy and I got married (eleventy-billion years ago), we adopted a runt-of-the-litter kitten we named "Stimpy". This cat became legendary in our lives, as well as our friends. We had to feed her with an eye dropper for the first month of her life, but she eventually bloomed into a beautiful cat with a very sweet demeanor. That cat ruled our house in a very regal way for many years before we had to put her down a couple years ago. It was very sad, but she lived an excellent and cushy life. During her time the only "kill" that she brought in to the house amounted to a few acorns. Needless to say, she was not a cold-blooded gansta.
Our current cat was also picked up from our local Humane Society. When we went in the "Cat Room", she climbed up on my shoulder immediately and was very friendly. She's been a fantastic cat, and very affectionate. We decided to name her "HR Fluffinstuff" but she's more commonly known as "kitty". Underneath her purring mass of soft fur is a voracious hunter. It seems like she kills at least one bird or mouse per week, and the sad part is that she loves to display her kills on the carpets of our home or worse - in our master bedroom. The most horrifying moment so far was when we returned from a family vacation to find a huge male blue jay in full rigor mortis.
Weirdly, our kids never bonded with Stimpy but they are very attached to HR. I attribute this to the power of raising a kitty from a young age to adulthood. There's something about that nurturing process that bonds owners to pets. In return, HR loves our kids and is incredibly gentle.
A couple months ago, I read a hilarious comic on this topic via theoatmeal.com. By the way, if you're not familiar with Matthew Inman's awesome site, I highly recommend it. He created a great infographic titled, "How much do cats actually kill?" Here's just one of the many data points he presented. Click here or on the the picture to see his complete work.
The data is based on research from The University of Georgia's Kitty Cams project (I kid you not, you can read about it here: www.kittycams.uga.edu/research.html). In a brilliant but simple move, researchers attached tiny video cameras to cat collars in order to track their activities. The results show a secret life of cats that is both fascinating and horrifying. Our little lovable kittens are indeed killing machines! The study showed that one in three cats hunted prey and average two kills per week. BASED ON CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATES, OUR CAT IS KILLING 104 ANIMALS PER YEAR!!!! This doesn't even take into account all the weird prehistoric beetles and moths that she brings in!
Pets are odd. Domesticated wild animals seem like an impossible thing, yet it's one of the most common arrangement in many households. Go ahead kids, pet that cat... but respect the killing machine within.