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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 3:13 pm | Fair 66º


Captain’s Log: A Prancing Cat with a Mouthful of Pride

I ran across a story from many years back, and it gave me such a good chuckle that I just had to share.

Cats have the capacity to show a lot of personality. While driving on a side street in Goleta, I spotted a tabby cat prancing along the center of the sidewalk. Yes, absolutely — it was prancing. I’ve watched carefully as cats walked, crawled, stalked, trotted and ran. This was a pretty-as-you-please prance — not along a fence or near a line of bushes, but right along the center of a sidewalk for all to see.

The reason was clear. That tabby had a fresh-caught mouse hanging from its mouth. The mission was equally clear. This was a vanity prance.

That proud cat wanted the world to know that it was a successful predator. Bringing meat home is the measure of a hunter. Many people believe that “vegetarian” is a native word meaning “terrible hunter.” To this pet cat, the mouse meant something like, “I may be a bowl-fed cat, but as a hunter, I’ve still got it!”

What gave me a good chuckle was not just the cat with a mouthful of mouse, but the overacting the cat was doing. I know how much a mouse weighs, and it’s not much. This was a strong, healthy cat (probably a product of plenty of bowl-feeding rather than relying on hunting), so that medium-size mouse couldn’t have seemed very heavy. But the way that tabby was playing the scene, you would have thought it was a young lion dragging a full-grown gazelle across the savannah.

I’ve seen fisherfolk play similar games, hefting a five-pound bass like it was a 50-pound sack of meat and grimacing for all it’s worth. Let me assure you, no fisher alive could out-act this cat.

I figured there might be more to this story, so I pulled over to watch the cat continue on its course. It made the trip to its own house, circled the yard a couple of times, ceremoniously deposited the catch on the porch and began meowing loudly.

The astute owner opened the door, petted the cat and took the mouse. Wow! This was a cat owner who knows a thing or two about cat psychology. Acceptance of the gift of meat was mighty important to that cat. That happy tabby then laid itself down in the shade of a bush and began primping prettily. Just about that time, a big stray dog rounded the corner and the two critters locked eyes.

Yup, things change fast in the animal kingdom.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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