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Cats, Mother's Day and unexpected presents
Scripps Howard News Service


May 05, 2005

Handmade cards, macaroni collages on paper plates, half-dead garden snakes - it must be Mother's Day.

Children everywhere are gearing up for the holiday, expressing their love with glue and sequins as best they can. But surrogate children don't have construction paper or pipe cleaners to show their thanks. They don't even have opposable thumbs. And that's why cats celebrate Mother's Day with small dead animals.

This year, Mother's Day came early to the girlfriend's apartment. Her cat rarely needs an excuse to bring in its prey - as an indoor/outdoor cat, it is free to carry in any number of animals, including snakes, voles, moles, and toddlers. If the cat can catch it and it fits in the cat door, it will become a present.

Like a gift wrapped in paper and tied with a ribbon, the cat's gifts do not lack some anticipation. Blood smears along the wall or a trail of feathers are a good indication that a present is hiding somewhere. Half the fun is finding it - especially in the bathtub. This gift was no exception.

At about three in the morning, I was awakened by an elbow in the ribs. The girlfriend had just heard something dying in the hall.

My first reaction was shock - I could not believe that I was in bed with my girlfriend at three in the morning. After all, there is nothing so appalling to me as unwed cohabitation. (Happy Mother's Day, mom.) I mumbled sleepily that whatever was dying in the hallway now would most likely be dead in the hallway tomorrow, and that I would take care of it in the morning. Some of the most pragmatic decisions are made at three a.m.

After another fifteen minutes of blissful sleep, I received a second blow to the ribs. Apparently, whatever had been dying in the hallway was now in the bedroom.

"Impossible," I said. "The door to your bedroom is always shut, to prevent the cat from expressing his love for me by sitting on my head."

Minutes later, a piercing shriek proved that it was indeed possible. With the lamp on, the girlfriend saw that, whatever it was, it had crawled under the door and sought refuge in my gym bag.

Lumbering from the bed, I walked directly to my bag, zipped it shut, and tossed it back into the hallway. Again, at three am, logic prevails. And of course, when I woke the next day, I found my bag exactly where I had left it.

Perched on top of my bag was the cat.

The cat looked at me as if to say "I would open this bag, were it not for my lack of opposable thumbs." In response, I glared at the cat, as if to say "I did not sleep well last night, and would gladly dropkick you, were it not for your mom."

With the bag in hand, I stumbled out to the balcony. Pulling the zipper in one quick swipe, I jumped back to avoid the frightened, no-doubt rabid creature trapped within.

A single, small gray mouse leapt to freedom. And I saw that, in its gratitude, it had left me a present of my own. Several small, brown presents.

Yes, Mother's Day from the furry surrogate child came early this year _ and there will no doubt be many more dead and mostly dead presents in the future. But I'll be able to top all those gifts when I give my girlfriend my most creative present yet.

It involves the cat, some paper plates, and rubber cement.


Ben Grabow writes for the young, the urban, and the easily amused.
Contact him at thinlyread(at)

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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