Yesterday, Stormy killed a sock. First she hooked it with her front claws. Then while it was firmly in hand, so to speak, she rolled over on her side and kicked it to death with her back feet. When Troughton the Doberman came over to investigate, she flattened her entire body on top of the sock, front legs splayed out and gripping the carpet, tail swishing ominously.
When it comes to live prey, Stormy only catches and eats lizards (green anoles) and those giant roaches we are so blessed to have in Florida. She’d like to catch a bird, but is probably too fat and slow to accomplish it. Yesterday she thought she had one cornered inside the computer. I was listening to hawk calls on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. That hawk outside my window, which I still think is a Cooper’s hawk, does not sound quite right. But Stormy intended to kill it, whatever it was, and I have the scratches to prove it. (Note to self: Before listening to bird calls, put cat outside.)
This got me thinking about how it is that cats distinguish between food and non-food species. If you are non-food, you must be kept warm, groomed, and purred over. Is it just because we’re bigger?
And this made me think about a long-ago cultural anthropology class, where we touched on linguistics. They contrasted the fact that the Inuit (it was so long ago that we still called them “Eskimos”) have 50-something words for snow, whereas there is a tribe in Africa (or was it South America?) which has only two words for plants. Translated, these two words mean either “edible” or “inedible”. The theory was that language develops in response to a need for it. Whether or not that theory has any merit, it seems to make a sort of intuitive sense. If you’re an Inuit, it’s important to recognize whether the snow is soft and powdery or crusted over. As for plants, edible and inedible, it was surmised that this is all this tribe really needed to know. Of course I can immediately come up with a major gap in that theory, which is that it doesn’t explain the evolution of art. Technically speaking, art isn’t necessary for survival.
Stormy is a lot like the African tribe. There are only two things she needs to know: edible, or inedible? The question still remains as to how she tells the difference. As for the sock, even Stormy knows that’s inedible. It was more like staying in practice. At the moment, it’s winter here, and there is a distinct shortage of lizards and roaches.