Does your cat bring home still-kicking morsels to share? Or are they already—ahem—inanimate objects by the time they appear on your doorstep or (worse yet!) your pillow? Seren at worst has left me cricket legs to find. But I have friends whose cats routinely bring gifts of baby birds, bunnies, lizards or (shudder) mouse parts. Why do they do this? Well . . . it’s what cats do. They’re expert hunters, whether stalking a feather toy or a live critter. Well-fed cats hunt better, because they have the energy to burn. The behavior is hardwired in the cat brain so that the scurrying motion and ultrasonic squeak simply triggers a knee-jerk (paw-jerk?) reaction to pounce. The cat believes he’s offering you the ultimate compliment when he presents the result of his prowess for your inspection. Some behaviorists believe these cats look on their humans as inept hunters unable to bring home the bacon (or butterfly) without feline assistance. These cats may even bring home live prey, and turn it loose in the house, much as they would do to train a kitten the ABCs of hunting. Other experts theorize the cat simply brings his trophy to his nest--the house--with plans to play with, enjoy, and munch later. So, what’s a sensitive, caring owner to do? Smile, praise the cat, let him or her preen with pride when you extol exceptional hunting prowess. Then (when kitty isn’t looking) carefully dispose of the trophy and perhaps replace it with a more wholesome treat.
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