Over the last month or so, Ashley and I have been feeding and petting and generally being nice to a stray cat. We like her because she’s cute and sweet and affectionate. She likes us because we provide her with food and attention. Ashley started referring to her as “Catberg,” and that became her name as far as we were concerned. She comes around almost every day, usually in the evening, when we feed her, but she’s popped up in the morning or other random hours of the day, too.
We’ve never allowed her in the house, nor do we plan to, in deference to Ottie, who has made her dislike for Catberg quite clear. They’ve never been in direct contact, since we keep Ottie inside, but there have been hisses exchanged through window screens, and the meows Ottie throws Catberg’s way when she spots her through the window or on the other side of the screen door have a distinctive “get lost” quality to them.
This is Catberg, by the way:
As I said, she’s a sweetheart. Very solicitous of our affection, very appreciative of our charity. She’s a good cat.
She’s also, Ashley and I discovered today, a stone cold murder machine.
We stepped outside this afternoon, not long after I’d come home from a rehearsal for a short film I’ve written for Neon Reel Entertainment (not An Hour Out, which is delayed a bit, but another one which we’re planning to shoot next week), to find Catberg in the back yard. We’ve tried to encourage her to come around to the back of the building when she looks for us. The front door opens right onto the street, which, thanks to the ice cream shop across from us, is incredibly busy this time of year. I’d hate to see her get run over by a car. Catberg seems to be taking the hint, and for the last week we’ve seen her most often outside our back door. Today we walked out, glanced to our left and saw Catberg trotting toward us with a bird hanging from her mouth, its wing clamped in her jaws.
The bird was alive. Catberg came up to the edge of the grass, meowed (I imagine her saying “Hey, guys! Just in time!”), dropped the bird, and walked up to us like she always does, tail straight in the air. In the grass, the bird opened and closed its beak and flapped its wings.
“Well, finish it off, Catberg,” I said.
Catberg turned back to the bird. She pounced it, and it somehow got its feet beneath itself and tried to hop away. She didn’t let it get very far before pouncing it a second time and batting it a few times with her paw. Catberg would give the bird a good swat, then back off and get down low, back legs tucked under, ready to spring. If the bird made too much of a move to escape, she’d pounce again. This went on the entire time Ashley and I stood there.
It was around then that we both became aware of the birds in the trees at the edge of the yard. From a few that flew overhead, one swooping down low enough to convince Ashley and I to retreat a foot or so under the overhanging roof, I could see they were of the same type as Catberg’s captive. They were not pleased by what they saw. The remainder of Catberg’s assault took place amidst a chorus of enraged, squawking protest.
“I don’t want to find that on the rug in the morning,” I said to Catberg as Ashley and I went back inside.
A short time later, maybe fifteen minutes, I stepped outside again. The bird was dead by now. Flies already buzzed around it. Catberg had turned at the sound of the door opening and padded toward me. After a moment, she turned back around, lowered her head to the carcass, and began to eat. “I guess that can of Friskies I gave you earlier wasn’t enough,” I said, and walked back in the house.
Ashley and I left on a short trip to the grocery store less than an hour later, by which time Catberg had cleaned her plate, so to speak. There was nothing in the grass where the bird had been except feathers and a few mangled, unidentifiable body parts. Catberg was still around, stretched out on the concrete in the shade, seeming quite contented.
Take another look at that picture above. That cute kitty captured, tortured, killed and ate a bird right in front of me. She’s an animal, man. A beast. A killer. She’s hardcore — you could tell that wasn’t her first bird, you dig?
The last thing that bird saw before sweet oblivion probably looked something like this.
Catberg’s bad, man. She’s bad.