Another dead mouse on the floor this morning.

I dealt with it in my usual competent and energized fashion: I groaned, pulled the blankets over my head, and said “YOU deal with it.” James, the subject of this sentence (or perhaps object, I haven’t diagrammed a sentence in about a thousand years) kindly performed the ritual of disposing of the mouse, and telling the cat how good and fierce she was.

It constantly astounds me that Athena, who does not have two brain cells to rub together, who once burned the bumps off her nose while attempting to snuggle the radiator, who licks the walls lovingly and on more than one occasion was outsmarted by a paper sack, can catch and dispatch a mouse.

Thing is, I know hunting is a learned behavior. Loki, who was seperated from his mother at four weeks old, never learned how to hunt (and was clingy and insecure his entire life as well.) I know nothing of Athena’s former life before she came down with an acute respiratory infection at the age of six months, and nursed back to health by one of St. Paul’s foster cat carers. I don’t know if she was feral, abandoned, dumped at a shelter, or what. I would guess she was never mistreated, because she is a terribly sweet and trusting cat, and I would suspect she had early human contact as well. However, from the occasional rodent corpses littering my life, I DO know that she must have been with her mother long enough to learn to hunt.

My heart goes out to this nameless feline matron, whoever she was. Because Athena’s a sweetheart, a dear, cuddly, affectionate cat who never met a human she didn’t want to be petted by, but goddamn, she’s dumber than a sack of wet dirt. Teaching her profoundly stupid offspring to hunt must have tried the patience of a saint. I can only imagine the mother cat, watching with hopeless dismay, as the young Athena was outwitted by injured mice, by dead mice, by grass, by small rocks. Her whuppin’ paw must have ached at the end of the day from trying to beat sense into a skull that rang like a hollow gourd. And yet, she perservered, a monument to maternal dedication, and today, I reap the rejected rodent rewards.

Nameless cat, my hat is off to you.

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