Amelie earns her keep
My cat Amelie killed a mouse recently.
The way she acted, you’d think she’d cured cancer.
As I rounded the corner on my way to the refrigerator around midnight, I saw a former mouse. It was supine, its little pink paws curled, its nose pointed heavenward and its body still as a door stop.
At first I thought, “Damn, they’re making these cat toys look realistic these days.”
Then it clicked. I shrieked and retreated to the bedroom where I woke up my wife.
“Honey,” I said, standing over her. “Honey, the cat. She’s killed like a little mole or something.”
My wife blinked at me and said, “Wha …?”
Amelie has been with us for 10 years. I named her after the movie of the same name, because when she was a kitten I thought her white paws were so dainty. Over time we discovered that, bless her heart, there is just not a whole lot going on upstairs. She is scared to death of seemingly ordinary things like gravity and rustling plastic bags.
Since moving to Decatur, Ga., we’ve discovered that she’s a different sort of critter when she’s frolicking around the yard at night. She gets serious about her profession.
In the daylight, when I close the door just a little bit, she zips inside the kitchen door like Indiana Jones escaping a death trap. She’s afraid of being trapped outside of the house.
At night, her moonbeam-flicker eyes glare at me over her shoulder as she stalks through the back yard. It’s like she’s saying, “Can’t you see I’m busy?”
She was definitely busy that night, judging by the carcass on the floor.
I stood bravely behind my wife as she tiptoed around the corner into the hallway. (She’s from rural Alabama and I’m from the suburbs. I’ve determined that farm-animal related problems are her bailiwick.) She assumed by the tone of my voice that Amelie had felled a beast once described in a Tolkien novel.
When she saw the mouse, we both let out a simultaneous “eww!”
I nominated her to pick it up.
She went to the kitchen and got a paper towel. She picked the thing up by the tail – which was when I realized it was a mouse, not a mole – and attempted to carry it out of the room. She dropped it and it landed on the wooden floor with a soft thump.
“Ewww,” we said.
She finally got a good grip on the mouse tail and we figured it was best left out in the yard for some enterprising vulture. When she’d disposed of the critter’s body, we looked at Amelie sitting on the couch, her eyes closed and her head high. When we asked if she’d taken care of the mouse, she meowled at us, her primal domestic roar.
Amelie’s age has begun to show lately, which only makes her dimness more apparent. In her private moments with us she is frightened and frail. I’m not sure what happens inside that fluffy void between her ears when she goes out at night, but I’m sure there’s a powerful force at work.
We have not set the bar too high for her. She drools and she whimpers. She gets her claws stuck in the couch cushions and spends good chunks of her life getting herself unstuck. Even though she fails at most other cat-related tasks, she’s elegant and efficient at killing small mammals.
We have to praise her whenever there’s an opportunity. You did good, princess. Daddy’s proud.