Column: Those who cry ‘kill the cat,’ should look at historical results

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 28, 2005

Parenthesized by boots and hat

the hunter’s gone to shoot a cat

A beastie that has done no harm,

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But killed some rats around the farm.

With stealthy tread and gimlet eye

Bravely the hunter seeks to spy

The lonely, hungry frightend kit

To wrest away the life from it.

He can nail the head upon his wall

And play he keeps a hero’s hall.

Protecting all the birds he loves,

Particularly the mourning doves.

All innocent the victim came.

The hunter lie took careful aim.

The hunter’s aim was not too true,

He now has one foot instead of two.

I rarely like a hunting story,

But this one has a kind of glory.

To any hunter in boots and hat

My prayers and good wishes are with the cat.

This column is dedicated to a beautiful cat companion I had about the time I was finishing my

undergraduate work for my degree.

My cat was a long-haired domestic and started her career as, what those who know little about cats and care less, are wont to refer to as &uot;feral.&uot;

The term is supposed to mean untamed, undomesticated and savage. What it really means is neglected, unloved, uncared for.

I met my cat during World War II, when I was out in the backyard weeding the victory garden. She was obviously starving, but far too hopeless to ask for food. I stayed close to the ground being careful not to make any flourishing movements.

I did talk to her, though. Very softly, knowing that her hearing was keener than the hearing of any human being. Gradually she began to tiptoe closer. She didn’t make a direct (the shortest line between two points) approach. Cats rarely do. They hesitate and like Peer Gynt appoaching a bog, go round about.

A couple of times she came close enough so I could have actually touched her, but I sensed that she was tight as a spring ready to leap and run at my slightest movement. It was all slow going.

We didn’t quickly bond. Our friendhip began around noon and twilight was falling before we actually became friends. At the end of the afternoon she crawled close enough to me to lay one paw on my arm.

When I went inside, my father, himself an animal lover, took the Toy Poodle, Cherie, into the living room and shut the kitchen door. I don’t think dogfood is the right thing to feed a cat, but it was what I had and the cat seemed to enjoy it.

For some days she was a little nervous, but more quickly than we had hoped she grew close to the family even to the dog.

She was a pretty cat, but she had little tufts of hair curling out from either ear. According to an old superstition this is supposed to be a mark of the devil. So I named her Banshee, for the Gaelic fairy woman.

When I think of hunters and their ilk who go beating the bush for these deprived and impoverished creatures I find myself remembering the late Middle Ages, when so-called Christians made a great show of proving themselves religious.

One of their favorite methods was to hunt up cats and dogs, usually black cats and dogs, hang them, or throw them in the “holy” fires. After all they were creatures of the devil, were they not?

A good many cats and dogs were killed by the enthusiastic church goers. There were not many left to protect citizens against the many rats that swarmed through the walls of the houses.

Carriers of fleas and carriers of the Black Plague, (Bubonic Plague) the rats spread death throughout the world and changed history.

I have always felt that killing, and killing at random without considering the consequences, can be more dangerous than we know.

I also am inclined to agree with the Chinese proverb that says people who don’t like cats were rats in a former existence.

(Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column runs Thursday.)