Cats are exceptionally skilful hunters and they never cease to amaze me. I have shared my life with many feline friends and have witnessed some incredible feats of agility. Not to mention impressive determination. I had arrived at the point when I thought that I just might have seen it all when it came to cats and their hunting skills, but I was wrong!
Despite his advancing years, my own cat is still proving adept at catching mice. Every so often I hear him wailing in a particular way, which I now know means he has brought me a “present”. This is usually a mouse which may or may not be dead and may or may not be running around the house.
I can live with the odd mouse in the kitchen. Things were much worse when my cat was younger as he was in the habit of sitting on the garden fence and then leaping into mid-air to capture birds in flight. Some of these were extremely large but he would bring them into the house anyway and at least one room would end up looking like a pillow had exploded all over the floor.
I once found a blackbird in my TV cabinet and on one of the many occasions on which my furry friend killed a pigeon, the bird’s mate was so distressed, it followed the cat through the cat flap into my kitchen. I was then faced with a dead pigeon and a live one in a panic.
Years ago one of my cats managed to kill a seagull which was decidedly bigger than he was. I didn’t see how he had managed to capture it and I was shocked when I realised the enormity of the bird lying on the patio. I imagined that this might be the most impressive piece of hunting that I would ever witness, but this year a cat that I met on holiday managed to top the seagull!
I was enjoying a wonderful stay in Croatia. There are always feral cats around and some of them are surprisingly friendly. This is doubtless because they have learned that visiting tourists like me are succours for cute kitties and will feed them.
There were four adult cats and two kittens which regularly visited my holiday home. When I say regularly visited, I mean they had virtually moved in! One evening I was sitting on the terrace when it became obvious that one of the female cats was trying to catch something. Three of the cats had formed a circle around whatever it was. It was dark so I picked up a torch and went over to investigate.
I was shocked to discover that the creature which the cats had cornered was a poisonous viper. These snakes are deadly and their venom can kill a human in two hours. The snake was striking out at the cats and I was sure that one would be bitten. But the female hunter was determined to get the snake and I was stunned to see that she managed to subdue it and then kill it with relative ease.
I still feared that she must have been bitten during the hunt and so I was very relieved to find her alive and well the next day. All that was left of the snake was its skeleton!