Kittens: they are cute, cuddly and utterly useless.
They constantly cry for attention and food. They demand to be picked up, only to run away seconds later. They knock over houseplants, drag out rolls of toilet paper and jump into the trash. Up until recently, I foolishly believed the pair that have taken up residency in our home were only capable of these types of kitten antics and perpetual cuteness.
Oh, how wrong I was about those two creatures.
Yesterday, instead of the kittens mewing and purring, a severed rat head greeted me just inside of the door. Its mouth was stretched into a gruesome expression of terror. The disembodied head was still connected to its little rat arms, which were held up as though to stop the perpetrator(s).
The kittens, previously believed to be so benign, waited on top of the couch nearby, proudly purring at their accomplishment. They licked their paws clean and then moved onto cleaning one another. I wasn’t sure how to react, my kittens were now killers. I gasped at the grisly sight which pleased the little cats. The shock on my face was misinterpreted as satisfaction for a job well-done and they leapt towards me in expectation of praise for the specially prepared present.
It was actually a fine gift, the ones that surprise us are often the best. It was a relief that the rodent who had been leaving droppings under the couch had been caught. I feared that a trap may have to be set that would inevitably end up clamped onto one of the kittens’ paws or tails.
However, it was also a gift by way of a valuable life lesson.
There is no end to the learning in this existence. Domesticated house cats can be killers just as easily as they can be snuggle-bugs. The mutilated rat head reminded me to be wary of assumptions, for better or worse. My kittens are capable of anything, just like humans. They can love just as easily as they can destroy. It is when we forget this fact of life that we risk ending up like old mister rat, without a head or a place to go.