Perhaps it’s because we had Charlie from such a young age, she missed essential lessons from her cat mother in feline etiquette. Namely, how to kill. Although she is a fierce little cat, defending our garden from trespassers, she has never actually killed anything larger than a moth.
Charlie has a collection of toy mousies, little soft creatures made from fake fur in a variety of girly colours, such as pink and purple, that are hers and hers alone. No other cat can touch her mousies, or they will get a slap.
Lily is an accomplished hunter and has brought numerous offerings to the house on many occasions, for example, two different species of mouse, assorted small birds, large moths and so on. If uninjured, they are caught (not always as swiftly as I would like) and returned to the great outdoors; if hurt, they are shoeboxed and left to take their final journey in peace and darkness. I don’t know why Lily keeps bringing her prey back to the house. Does she think the other cats are useless providers and is trying to show them what to do?
One evening, we were watching television and Charlie came sauntering nonchalantly in, something clutched in her mouth and a look of supreme unconcern on her furry face…
“Charlie, what have you got? Is it.. is it.. a mouse?”
Upon realising she had been busted, she swiftly darted back into the kitchen and re-appeared, seconds later, suspiciously mouse-free, an air of complete innocence and abused trust hanging about her whiskers.
“What? WHAT? I haven’t got anything at all! You never EVER believe me!”
Not persuaded by her teenage ‘the whole world is against me’ attitude, I went into the kitchen and had a look behind the bin, as the nearest, most logical hiding place in a hurry. There, to my amusement, looking back at me, from the safety of a spare rubbish bag where it had been carefully tucked, was a mouse. The smallest mouse I have ever seen. Literally. It was perhaps about the size of a bumble bee and so sweet it would make your teeth ache… Dressed in pale brown fur with tiny pink hands and feet, it made no attempt to evade capture and sat quite happily in my hands, cleaning its delicate, hair-like whiskers; a creature of such unbearable cuteness Walt Disney would have been proud to claim it as one of his creations. It was completely unhurt, not even damp from Charlie’s mouth where she had held it to carry it in.
“Ohhh, you mean that mouse! I actually thought that it was one of my toy mousies, that had somehow got out and was wandering around and I didn’t want anyone else to touch it because it was my mouse and it might have got lost…”
You could practically hear the guilty explanations.
The very, very small mouse was carefully returned to the bottom of the garden and told to make a quick getaway. Charlie was a picture of injured innocence. I found myself apologising to her.
“I’m sorry darling, but you know you couldn’t keep that little mouse, it would miss its mummy and daddy, and it was a real little mousie and you know we can’t have those in the house. Tomorrow, when Mummy goes to the shop, she’ll buy you a nice new mousie. What colour would you like? Shall I get you pink, for a little girl?”