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August 13, 2007
Something small and slightly damp crunched slightly under my bare foot as I got out of bed. Bending down to see what it was, I was rewarded with the sight of a freshly-killed mouse, bleeding into an antique oriental carpet that really deserved better. Aha, I thought as I hobbled to the bathroom for a tissue and a wet rag. That's what all the noise was about.

It had been quite a night in our bedroom. Several times, as if in a dream, I had heard Ben meowing in a voice quite unlike his accustomed quack: loud and guttural and sustained, followed by the thunder of galloping cat feet, then by a strangely busy silence. I remember thinking at the time that it sounded like a hunt. But how would Ben, the New York City apartment cat, know how to hunt?

Never mind how they know; they know. All cats know how to hunt. Enter Kitten, to illustrate this truth about cats: the day after Ben caught the mouse in our kitchen and carried it upstairs in the middle of the night to present to us as a good morning gift, Kitten struck. Not to be outdone by Ben, he also left his prey for us to find, on another oriental rug, this one in the dining room.

It was so mutilated we couldn't identify the remains at first. What is it? I said when Q pointed it out. Another mouse? A cicada, maybe? But it was a coffee-flavored hard candy in a crackly wrapper. Kitten had stalked and caught a piece of candy.

Well. you have to cut a kitten some slack. I'm sure the piece of candy put up a terrific fight, and the noise of its wrapper must have further inflamed his bloodlust. He had spent the weeks leading up to that kill outside, stalking the tall lily-like blooms of the hosta plants, catching one and bending it down to the ground and then losing his grip on it, so that it flew back upright like a shot. He is bewildered now, with the blooms finished and the stalks where they were standing naked; where are his sparring partners? Successfully bagging the piece of candy must have been a morale-booster.

Even their play is about hunting; Kitten stalks and pounces on the other cats all day, every day, and they brush him off with the tolerant bat of a paw. Ben hisses theatrically at him once in a while, but Kitten is unafraid. This is a kitten, after all, who wrestled a piece of candy to the ground and routed an entire bed of hostas. You don't want to get on his bad side.
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