Guest Post by MeLinda Hughes of Merlin’s Hope Ragdoll Rescue
This morning, as I went to put on my shoes, I found that I couldn’t get my shoe on. One of my wonderful cats had left me a present in my shoe. A bright green furry mouse was stuck in the toe. It made me remember some of the many presents my cats have left me over the years.
When I moved into my first home in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1998, I quickly discovered that my house had been built on a scorpion bed. I discovered this when my Ragdoll, Merlin, and my then 6-week-old Snowshoe, Taliesin, backed one into the corner. I didn’t even know what it was, but my boys saw predator and went right after it. After much screaming and shoe stomping on my part, the scorpion was dead and boys the mighty warriors. Over the next two years, my cats found and/or killed over 18 scorpions. I managed to not be stung even once due to their diligence.
When I moved to Ennis, Texas, I thought I was safe. Oh, how the mighty fall. Within days, I discovered we had a rather nasty mouse problem. Merlin was already deceased by that time, and none of my cats was even remotely interested in helping me out. Finally, I brought home Prince Charming, a magnificent Snowshoe. He promptly took care of my problem; however, his “presents” were often to be found throughout the house, mostly in the most inconvenient places: a water bowl, the kitchen sink, and strangely enough the toilet. I guess he was trying to drown them? Problem solved.
Though we are firm believers in cats being indoor-only cats and our indoor cats are allowed out only in the outdoor enclosure, I have to admit I have one outside cat. Caedmon was a 5-7 year old unneutered male Ragdoll mix who had apparently lived his entire life outside. After months of trying to make him into a house-cat and the second round of major wounds I suffered from trying to keep him happy in the house, Caedmon and I compromised by him moving outside. He learned quickly to live right around the house. His gift to me has been keeping the predators away from my house. Over the years, he has gifted me with copperhead snake bodies, dead rats, and a multitude of mice. The first time I opened the door and found a thankfully dead copperhead snake on my front porch, I screamed, slammed the door shut, and left out the back door. Thank goodness, Caedmon quickly learned that the further the gift was from the front door, the more appreciative I was. He now leaves his presents in the driveway. In addition to being a mighty hunter, though I must admit that even he avoids the fierce opossums that come to steal his food, Caedmon is extremely tolerant of outside visitors.
We once had the rare chance to host a momma fox and her two kits. Since foxes are known to attack and kill cats, I was quite concerned when this emaciated fox moved into our storage room. I tried to keep Caedmon in the house until I saw momma fox and Caedmon eating out of the same food bowl at the same time. I never could get a picture of them, since momma would run anytime I opened the door, but we fed momma and her babies all summer long, and I even managed to work flea-treatment and dewormer into their food. Caedmon was the proud host to this predator, nay, even enemy, and I will always treasure that summer.
Caedmon is also really good about allowing other neighborhood cats, mostly ferals, come eat at our house. Apparently, the neighborhood cats have a map with a dot on it for my house. One of my favorite guests was a huge, red domestic short-haired boy. I tried unsuccessfully for months to trap and neuter him, but he was a wonderful hunter. One morning, I opened my door to discover an enormous, dead rat. My neighbor kindly came and removed the rat, but we made the mistake of dumping it out in the pasture behind my house. Unfortunately, big red boy realized that I had not appreciated his present to me. So, the next morning, I found the same dead rat, now without the head, on my front porch. The red boy was waiting just outside the door for me to find his present. I learned my lesson. I picked up the rat with a piece of cardboard, made yummy eating noises to show him that I was enjoying his present, and disposed of the rat far, far away.
Cats are predators, and their way of showing appreciation is by providing for us, including providing food. I learned a really nice lesson from the many gifts my cats have left for me. Our cats leave us gifts for a reason. They are trying to feed us, help us survive, and please us. So, the next time, your cat leaves you a present, please remember that she is really doing you a favor and be grateful for her gifts, and whatever you do, don’t forget to show your appreciation or you never know what you will find next.