My cat Sami once brought me a mouse.
I’d adopted her from the ASPCA maybe a week before, so we were still in the beginning stages of our friendship. She didn’t cuddle yet; she didn’t seem terribly excited by my presence. And I knew that when a cat brings you their kill, it’s the highest honor they can present to you. It should have been great. But I slammed the door in her face.
You see, I had just come home from work, set my things in my room, and turned around to see Sami trotting towards me with the fat brown mouse my prior cat had nicknamed Jerry and shared her food with dangling from her mouth. The look on Sami’s face was more pride than I’d ever seen a cat display, and I’ve had a lot of cats. But I screamed and slammed the door. And when I finally did open it, Sami and the mouse were both nowhere in sight.
In my defense, I have a bit of a mouse phobia. Don’t ask me where it came from, because I have no clue. Blame it on the gerbil that bit my finger when I was little trying to get a taste of the remains of my peanut butter bagel? (Yes I know, gerbils and mice are totally different species–though Sami wouldn’t think so. It’s just the only incident I can remember!)
Now I’m fairly certain that, from the scuffle I heard while I cried in mouse-induced terror behind my flimsy Brooklyn bedroom door, that the mouse was not actually dead when she presented it to me. Odds are good that Jerry, however injured, managed to get under the stove and escape out the hole from whence he came. Sami let him go, tormented him a bit, gave him some claw and sass, and sent him on his merry way back to the outside world. She had to heal the sting of my rejection somehow.
She never chased another mouse again. I worried that she would never forgive me, never love me or cuddle me or be anything like the cat I’d had before. The first time she did FINALLY cuddle, I let her sit in my lap for hours despite having to pee like a racehorse. No way was I going to reject her again.
Tonight we’re watching “Tiger King” on Netflix, which obviously contains a lot of big cats. I wonder what Sami thinks about them as she sits in my lap and starts to purr as her giant cousins tear apart raw meat. She dreams a lot, in her fluffy pink kitten bed that she keeps in my headboard, and imagine those dreams are filled with all the mice she didn’t hunt when I squashed her dreams. Her whiskers shiver; her paws twitch; her eyelids flicker. Sami REALLY gets into her dreams. We don’t have mice in this apartment, so those dreams, and the glimpses of these cousins, are the only thing she gets in that regard. And a little part of me still feels bad for that day when I slammed the door, four years ago now. But I also know Sami still loves me, forgives me for the travesty of rejecting her special offering, because she sits here and shares her Netflix cat watching glee with me when she could go somewhere else. She cuddles me now, all the time. In her head, it’s probably more for her benefit than mine, but I like to think she loves me, in her own way.
May we all be as forgiving as Sami. And may we all keep our mice to ourselves.