Explain this, Mr. Darwin.

Let me say right up front, before I go any further, that I believe people can be divided into two teams: Team Dog and Team Cat. I play for Team Dog, enthusiactically. I have never been a Cat Person, and I can honestly admit that I never really understood the attraction of a cat. (It might be my one failing.) My bar is set fairly low, I think, and yet cats fail to make it: If, when I walk into a room, someone/something else immediately exits, well — I’m suspicious of them. This rule applies in equal measure to relatives, children, and so-called family pets. You all know who you are.

Now, onto today’s story. We have friends, Joanne and Christopher, who have two cats that are long-time members of their family. The cats are long haired orange Persians, and they are siblings named Zsa Zsa and Aslan who are declawed and live the happy lives of house cats. Although they have sort of a grumpy appearance (what with that scrunchy face), I will admit that they are adorable to look at…that is, when they remain in the room long enough to be gazed upon. They normally don’t hang around to be entertained by random humans who happen to stop into their home.

This is neither Aslan nor Zsa Zsa, but you get the idea. Furry, fluffy cats.

At any rate, this is a story about Zsa Zsa. She’s old — and no, I don’t know how old. She’s just old. Not ancient, freakishly-old-for-a-cat old, but not a kitten anymore. In the past several months when I’ve stopped in to see Joanne and Chris, Zsa Zsa was lurking in the next room, sort of in a crouch position as if daring me to gaze upon her. One time, as the light reflected in her eyes, I remarked to Joanne that her one eye looked really scary-glowy, and what was up with that? And then Zsa Zsa twitched her tail at me and left. But Joanne and Christopher continued to notice that in fact there was something funky going on with that eye.

They took her to the vet, and the vet pronounced her blind. Turns out her retinas had detached due to high blood pressure issues, and she was now permanently blind. Although this was hard news for my friends the Cat People, the vet reassured them that Zsa Zsa could indeed have many long, happy years, and that she’d be just fine. There would be the inevitable bumping into furniture and somewhat less-than-graceful catlike maneuvers as she got used to her new situation, but all would be okay.

Well, Zsa Zsa seems to have rallied just fine. She continues to turn on her sibling, Aslan, when the mood strikes her (she bumps into him and he gets hissed at as if it were his fault {I have to say, I kind of like that attitude}), she negotiates the stairs up to bed, down to the litter box and over to her food. Impressive adaptive abilities.

But the most impressive thing? She’s been catching mice in recent days with renewed zeal. To recap: she’s blind. And declawed. And catching mice. When Christopher first told me this, I mocked him. I wondered what kind of field mouse he was inviting into his home, if his blind, declawed cat was able to catch it. Seriously, this must be an evolutionary event at work: the less-abled field mice are picked off by the blind, declawed cat, thus ensuring that the weaker mice genes don’t replicate. I basically told Chris that obviously she caught the one slow mouse in the area.

But then she did it again. Still blind, still declawed, and obviously just as lethal as a cat might be expected to be. But come on….What kind of mice are we growing here in Princeton that they can’t escape from a blind cat? Clearly they’re not over at the University, frolicking in Nassau Hall.

Seems to me there’s a New Yorker cartoon in this story somewhere.

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10 Responses to “Explain this, Mr. Darwin.”

  1. Sherri Says:

    Oh, I can picture that cartoon! Or a really good National Enquirer headline. But yeah, it does make you wonder about the evolutionary process as it relates to the mice in your town!

    Alyson says:

    Fairly certain Enstein is 1) embarassed by the mice and 2) proud of the blind cat.
    Lord knows we have our share of geniuses in the this town. There’s got to be a few duds to let the geniuses shine….

  2. liz Says:

    Dude, that feline’s got some serious super powers!
    liz recently posted..Eva the Villian

    Alyson says:

    Am hoping she uses her powers for good not evil. Though looking at that grumpy face, I have to worry.

  3. Cecelia Winesap Says:

    I, myself, am a cat person, so I must say I am not surprised at the super hero qualities that cat possesses. :)
    Cecelia Winesap recently posted..Pee Wee’s Playhouse

    Alyson says:

    I forgive you. For the cat thing.
    Because your blog really entertains me, and I will believe that the cat has little to do with that.

  4. Grace Says:

    The mice were prolly having a little “Ding dong the cat is blind” party, and she crashed it. I’m impressed.
    Grace recently posted..Adams’s Apple

  5. Yuliya Says:

    Can you imagine how embarrassing that must be for the friends and relatives of the mice? I mean talk about Darwin award recipients, killed by a blind cat!
    Yuliya recently posted..Funny Droid

  6. Ganesh Says:

    ladyquesteur, July 20, 2013 at 3:24 pm It would be possible yes, but dinepdeng on the cat and the human involved. A cat could be convinced not to hunt certain animals, such as particular pets, though it may not carry over to other creatures, but I doubt even with the most dedicated training could make a cat interfere in another cat’s hunting.Due to their extreme independent nature, many people do not think you can train a cat and very few humans have the time or patience to be diligent enough to be effective, but it is possible to communicate your demands so that the cat MAY decide to appease you.My case in point:I had taken in a stray that was about a year old, actually he adopted me I brought him to my small farmstead and he stayed as an indoor/outdoor pet. Since he had been hunting to survive, he kept bringing small birds to the house even though he was now well fed. I convinced him not to bring them in the house, but did not try to deter his hunting until my chickens and ducks started breeding. Once the chicks went ranging, I caught him in the act 3 times each time I would pick him up by the nape, take the chick from him, raise the volume in his face and rattle him. I made him very uncomfortable and since it was a very unusual and intense correction, it was memorable. I am always gentle and loving with my animals, but his discipline had to be swift and in contrast to the norm. I communicated that they were MY chicks, and the pens were OUT of bounds. The last time I also tossed him in the duck pond to show him consequences . I lost only the first chick and he never entered the pens or harassed them again though he would still sit on his ledge and watch intently. He still brought sparrows back from his hunts, but it was obvious he could discern the difference. Though the hunting instinct is stronger in some cats more than others, as is their sense of regard’ for you, you could realistically try to instill a behavior.If you just don’t want your cat hunting wild mice, then you’ll need to rid the area of mice if possible, or better yet don’t allow your cat to stray indoor cats are just as happy as you make them, they are healthier and safer too.Though I work mostly with dogs, fundamental training concepts do work with other animals generous reward, respectful correction , and appropriate consequence. Pick your battles carefully however, as the bond is tenuous, so a cat could very easily snub you.ADDED: It is very easy to accustom a young cat and rodent (I highly recommend a female rat instead of a mouse) to each other as pets. Do separate them while unsupervised, but they need close interaction to bond the cat needs to make the connection to be safe. Let them become friends with you being the Guardian of both. I have taken older animals and conditioned them to be tolerant of each other, but two young animals brought up together is by far the easiest route to take. Have fun.

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