Thursday, May 22, 2008

Silence Of The Rabbit

From the moment we got our cat, I wanted to call him Ninja. We ended up calling him Luigi, an homage to the less-well-known Nintendo plumbing brother.

Luigi is an excellent mouser, and living in the rural suburbs as we do, that's a good thing. In our backyard at any given time one can find mice, squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, rabbits, deer, raccoons, skunks - it's like a zoo, but with only timid, flower-eating animals.

Which brings me to yesterday afternoon...

A friend came over to pick up her daughter who had been on a Wii playdate at my place. We were chatting on the doorstep and she noticed Luigi sitting by an open, but screened-in window, looking out with some menace - like he'd been on the catnip all morning and someone, somewhere was going to get messed up because of it. We chatted, he looked out of the window.

I opened the door to go back inside, and he bolted out, darted past me and jumped down into the garden and on top of a rabbit.

We have rabbits living under our front steps. When we found out, we shrugged. It was rabbits! Who cares? If it had been a skunk family, or even a bloody groundhog (as it has in the past) I would have done everything I could to flush it out. But rabbits? Please.

So, thanks to my lax attitude and my cat's warrior instincts, my friend Amy and I were now watching my cat mauling a rabbit. At least, that's how it looked. Luigi had the rabbit in his mouth and was walking around with it, its eyes bulging, and not sure what to do next. A little like myself. I told Amy to get her girls into the car (5 and 3 and traumatized at this point) and I went to get my shoes so I could pursue the black-and-white feline beast and his dinner-to-be.

I came out again, and before I could slip my Sambas on, Luigi put the rabbit down. And to everyone's surprise (including my kids, who were now watching from the window) - it jumped up and ran away! That's great! Except that Luigi chased after it. I threw my shoes towards the cat to try and stop him, but all that did was left me shoeless. The rabbit ran in circles, then dived back into its burrow. Luigi followed it, then dug into the burrow enough to resurface with the rabbit in his mouth again. We were back where we were minutes earlier.

Amy left, explaining to her kids that Luigi was "playing" with a "mouse" and I retrieved my shoes and went after him, sure I would soon have a blood-soaked cat and a dead bunny on my hands. Again, Luigi put down his catch... and again, the thing jumped up and bounded away. I grabbed the cat and the bunny went on his merry way. Amazing.

I took Ninja (his new name as far as I'm concerned, such is his stealth and guile) back inside and locked him in. He was wired, but clean. I came back outside, and who should I see sitting there, the very definition of "stupid" and "glutton for more near-death experiences" but the bunny. Looking up at me, a mix of "thanks, but kick your bastard cat friend for me, wouldya?" on his face.

Later, I would confront Luigi, but really, what could I say? "Don't be a cat?" We chose him from the shelter clearly because he would be a good mouser. It's like my old family dog, Cindy. She was the loudest, barkiest dog in the pound when we got her. That was the point. She was our burglar alarm. We then spent 10 years telling her to shut up. But, she was a barky dog! And so, we have a rodent-predator cat, and that's that. And it's not a bad thing. I was even able to tell my kids, 100% honestly, that the rabbit was fine and Luigi was just playing with it.

Penny's reaction was priceless: "Daddy, I saw Luigi with the rabbit in his mouth, and I was shocked."

Me too, kiddo.

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