You Shouldn’t Have (Really)


The selfless generosity of domestic cats has been widely acknowledged by the leading lights in veterinary science. There does not need to be a special occasion -- or even any occasion at all -- for a cat to surprise its owner with a whimsically charming, uniquely inspired gift. Cats are, one might say, a veritable Hallmark store of eviscerated rodent, bird and amphibian carnage.


“Why, Mittens, a decomposing frog torso!” I exclaimed to my own little Pollyanna just last week, as she proudly graced my bare foot with the festering remains of a creature for which it clearly had not been easy being green. “You shouldn’t have! You’re too kind.”


I haven’t always had the grace to react appropriately to Mittens’ gifts. The first time she lavishly presented me with a very thoughtful disemboweled opossum (it never would have occurred to my husband to give me something like that!), I must admit my first reaction was to let out a rather tactless scream. Poor Mittens was so alarmed, she dropped the non-refundable item (subsequently breaking it!) and ran off into the woods.


Then I read a very useful article by an eminent cat expert, informing me of the boundless respect and affection my cat wished to convey through the half-eaten lizard entrails draped lovingly across my pillow as I slept. I realized that I had been going about this all wrong.


“Never scold your cat for bringing you gifts!” The article chided. “You should simply thank her and discreetly remove the ‘gift’.”


Once I understood my crass wrong-headedness, I wasted no time in thanking Mittens profusely the next time she presented me with a blood-oscillating chipmunk head. I didn’t even tell her that I already had the same exact thing in a different color.


 I must say, though, that for all her unsolicited big-heartedness, Mittens really doesn’t really understand what I like. Granted, legless, still-moving crickets are nice and all, but they’re really not my style. I can’t help but wish that Mittens would bring me a gift certificate for a pedicure, maybe, or some nice perfume (hint, Mittens: my birthday’s coming up.)


But I know that Mittens is a creative, free-thinking type, and probably scorns the predictability of such clichéd gifts. No doubt she already went ahead and splurged on the mud-encrusted mouse hindquarters. I’m sure I can find a use for that, too (I have to give Great Aunt Madge something for Christmas!) The fact is, when it comes to my cat’s home-unmade baubles, it’s the thought that counts (yesterday, the thought was “ant-covered snake carcass”).


I just wish Mittens would understand that there’s nothing wrong with treating herself to a detached badger eyeball every now and then; she’s worth it!


Well, there’s always the hope that Mittens will eventually graduate to a full deer head with antlers. Now that’s a disembodied animal part I can use! It’ll be perfect for the family room above the bar. Merry Christmas to you, too, Mittens!