The hunt began almost as a dare. Zack, my big brother, is constantly plotting, planning and perpetuating escapes out the door and into, as he describes, “a world of adventure, danger and excitement.” I say, “Zack, you a fool. Why go on risking everything when you have it made here; no fuss, no muss, just jump on the counter and they feed you. Want some love? Leap on their bellies while they’re sleeping and (if you don’t burst their bladders) they’ll grab you and hug and kiss you good morning.” To this he replies with some serious disdain, “Opie, you the fool. A cat was born to hunt and I don’t mean that silly little sock—man up, get out, and see the world.”
Well, Zack’s big idea of the “world” is running under the house like an escaped convict, getting filthy dirty, fussin’ with some mangy old half-blind stinky cat by the name of Horace who is so addled from years of sniffing discarded cat nip from trash bins that all he has to do is say boo and Zack comes racing back, screaming like a kitten off the tit, to be let in. Oh, he acts all puffed up talking a blue streak about a brush with death, fur flying, and how he was just about to complete his hunt victorious when four brutal pits snatched the hawk from his teeth (more like some stale dog treats left behind that ole toothless Horace swiped from Zack).
So in he struts all manic and manly, demanding some food from our people and eating like he’s been away at war for years. “A man works up a powerful appetite when hunting” he is fond of saying…over and over again. I’ve watched through the cracks in the floor boards and seen his pitiful encounters with adventure. Like the time he went on about saving his girlfriend, Jessica (a beauty who lives on our front porch—sad story, homeless but too proud to come live inside), from a fearsome possum. Well I saw this possum and him one day playing cards with Jessica and Elvis (our neighbor cat who does not possess one lick of rhythm) and they were all buddy buddy. That Zack sure spins a tale.
“A cat was born to hunt—get out and see the world.”
Nevertheless, he got to me. Maybe living indoors had made me soft. And sure I could stand to lose a few pounds, buff up a bit—I mean, I’m a young man and my people are constantly saying what a good-lookin’ cat I am, that I even look like Ron Howard, this big shot Hollywood director. A bit of hunting might be just the ticket to get in shape and get Zack off my back. I need me some bragging rights too. But I don’t wish to worry my people and go outside; staying inside is a real sticking point with them. Yet there must be more to this hunter-gatherer thing than a limp sock.
I began training—stalking—Zack, both of the dogs, Sophia and Scout, even shoelaces. Further honed my skills tackling pillows and dragging them about the house and scaling the shelves of the linen closet, letting the neatly folded towels fall to the floor (and I did this without remorse). My self-imposed boot camp had me so focused that I even laid off the nip.
My plan was to slip out the back door when my people weren’t looking. I’d been rescued from the streets as a small kitten. Memories of that world were less than pleasant. Frankly, I just didn’t have Zack’s wanderlust and felt quite satisfied indoors. But I was determined to prove I could hunt. And that was when I realized it could be done indoors.
For months I’d been hearing the tweeting of birds inside the house. It would begin around the same time every morning. I rather enjoyed the sounds and didn’t give a flip if they were inside or not, until it dawned on me that maybe they were trapped and, like Zack, felt a need to be outdoors. I could do a catch and release, a good deed and have proof of successful hunting skills. And so it began. I would lie in wait for the morning twerps and search the sounds that oddly led me to my persons’ closet and then only to a pair of trousers. Crazy. One morning I tracked it only to dead end at a tote bag. Then one day I awoke to the birds on the nightstand and without thinking I pounced, came up with a silly device my people talk into and realized that the birds obviously had our number and were calling us.
Zack didn’t sleep on the bed with all of us so he didn’t know that the birds were (obviously) hired to give our people a wake-up call each day—and I kept it that way. All Zack knew was I had trapped, trained and detained some wild birds without ever leaving the house, and man was he impressed.