If you’ve ever wondered what your cute little kitty does when you let him or her outside, here’s a partial answer. Not only can house cats catch and kill birds and mice, they occasionally kill and eat squirrels.
And yes, this cat was enthusiastically eating a squirrel when J and I spotted her during an afternoon walk around Newton this weekend, even though by the looks of it she wasn’t wanting for food. When has simply being well-fed stopped any of us from saying “no” to a particularly tempting tidbit?
We pet-owners seem to think a collar, a regular supply of kibble, lots of cuddling, and several hundred generations of domestication can irrevocably redeem cats and dogs from their “wild” ways, but occasionally even the most pampered pussy returns to her natural predatory habits. In discussing the ethics of meat-eating, my undergraduate Eastern Philosophy professor described some acquaintances’ misguided attempts to raise vegetarian pets. “It is in a cat’s dharma to eat meat,” my professor explained after having defined “dharma” as the underlying nature or “law” of a given creature. Expecting a cat to live like a meat-eschewing Buddhist monk was contrary to the laws of nature, he suggested, and was thus doomed to failure.
If you own cats and love nature, the best thing you can do to protect all creatures great and small is to keep Kitty inside. Even thickly settled suburbs like Newton offer a tasty array of feline temptations…and even the suburbs are wild enough to harbor coyotes that consider cats as cuisine.
J has nine cats, and they all live happily indoors…which is why both rabbits and squirrels romp with abandon in his yard, taunting dogs and cats alike. If this sounds like a happy version of the Peaceable Kingdom, take note: J’s resident backyard rabbit demonstrates a voracious fondness for fresh spring greenery, which is the kind of predatory dharma cottontails are prone to. Regardless of your species or level of domestication, it’s a jungle out there.