Stormy the Cat Kills a Sock

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.


14 responses to “Stormy the Cat Kills a Sock

  1. Do you get big roaches or are they Palmetto bugs? I haven’t had a regular roach in years, but my palmetto bugs are so big that they crawl in bed with me, cuddle up, and throw a leg over me while i’m sleeping. One thing I get here is monster spiders and I always kill them as I’ve been bitten in my sleep.

  2. Jeff…”Palmetto bug” is a kind Florida name for “giant roach”. I’ve never been bitten, to my knowledge, by a spider. I expect Stormy to handle that issue.

  3. Interesting factoids on Palmetto bugs, which are different than those nasty German Roaches which require nuclear warfare to get rid of them.

    I know when I trimmed back the palm trees close to my house, the Palmetto infestation was attenuated significantly.

  4. The resident canine here at Fakesister’s will only take on bugs if they’re moving the other way. Prey is supposed to flee, you know? She has spent hours trying to catch the bumblebees working over the patio flowers. We tell her that’s not a really bright idea, but then she’s a dog. Dog and bright idea are not easy to use in the same sentence.

  5. Fakename has vicarious experience with the spider bite thing.

    I seem to recall a recent conversation where she told me she was very annoyed by the whole scene because no one but herself was allowed to kill me.

    Sibling rivalry rears it’s ugly head very early in life. Although, Fakename had good reason to be jealous.

  6. Indeed, Fakesister, as to sibling rivalry, but you have to admit…I got over it early too. To kill you, the enemy would have had to go through me first. It may not have seemed that way in later years, but it was still always that way. You would have to go through me first to get to you. You’ve always been nicer than me.
    Maggie and the bumblebees) Dogs are such idiots. I love them, but not because they are smart.

  7. So how many English words have propped for “overweight”…
    We need at least a dozen variations from large to plump to rotund to fat to obese and at least seven in between.

  8. Speaking of linguistics, I believe that the term “palmetto bug” was a neologism “roach” that someone from the Florida Chamber of Commerce dreamed up. Where would you rather visit, a place crawling with roaches, or a place crawling with “palmetto bugs”? As with the Inuits and snow, Florida obviously needed another word for “roach.”

    For what it’s worth, the first hit from a Google search for “palmetto bug” is the Wikipedia article on the “American cockroach.” The German cockroach is smaller and therefore seems less fearsome to me. In my experience they are rarely encountered outdoors.

    There are roaches in Southeast Asia that make “palmetto bugs” look like cute kittens by comparison. They can even fly. I have been in some epic battles against them. The horror…..

  9. I don’t believe that cats distinguish between food and non-food species. To a cat, I believe that anything it can catch and kill is a food species. I have even heard tales (urban legends?) of cat owners being devoured by their hungry cats when they died alone, at home. In other words, humans may be a food species for cats. A hungry cat might even eat a “palmetto bug.”

    All of us who love cats know that their hunting behavior isn’t necessarily related to hunger. They simply enjoy hunting, and will eat their catch – whatever it is – if they are hungry. I’m sure that we have all received “presents” from our well-fed cats of a nice mouse or bird that our Mighty Hunter has brought home for us – but passed on eating.

    Put yourself in your cat’s place. What would YOU rather eat – a raw mouse, or yummy cat food?

    And I would argue that the sock that Stormy killed belonged to a non-food species.

  10. I, a non-cat-owner, have read somewhere that the best catfood ever would be canned diced mice but that actual cat-owners barf over it.

    At least my pet of choice, dogs, are more nearly omnivores so canned dice mice would only be part of their best diet ever.

  11. My dogs always liked the Alpo beef heart, the cans with the big veins that the dogs loved to gobble up. Of course, they had bad breath for a day after eating that nasty stuff.

  12. GC, as to your “urban legend”, I quite suspect that’s real. I’ve heard the same stories about both cats and dogs. The stories I’ve heard involved people who’ve been dead for days, so the pets in question hadn’t been fed and the onset of starvation kicked in. Plus, by that time, I suspect you no longer smell like their beloved companion, so you aren’t recognized. Either that, or it doesn’t matter anymore.
    As for eating “Palmettto” bugs, I already said my cat does that. I had a previous cat who just went for the hunting part, as you say. He was very good at catching things, but never ate them. Sometimes, in fact, he forgot the part about killing them too. That’s why I’ve found live moles and snakes in the house.
    Perhaps the ideal cat food is diced mice and beef heart, spiced with a touch of ground-up Palmetto bug?

  13. Somewhere I’ve seen a T-shirt with a cat photo, looking all wide-eyed and innocent, captioned “My child eats bugs.”

  14. I need one of those Tshirts. The only one better would be a Tshirt that says “My child eats lizards”.

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