We care for some feral cats who live on the deck in the cat house I built them a few years ago. Well, it's springtime, which means the birds are nesting and baby birds are being hunted by the fearsome predators that are Simba and Mama Cat. Every few days, we'll find a sad little baby bird skeleton outside the door, where they've brought it as a thank you gift to us. Sometimes Simba eats it whole, and then he throws up the bones. It's really gross.
Today Simba caught a baby squirrel. The birds I can handle. I don't like it, but it's nature, and I get it. But the squirrels, I don't like. To start with, we had a bit of a blight in the trees several years ago and all the squirrels were killed. They're just starting to come back. I'm a supporter of any squirrel living a long and procreative life.
Second, these guys look so damn cute. Baby birds are cute, too, but in a sort of empty way. They don't look like little mammals. I don't feel as much of a connection to them.
I wasn't even that upset about the squirrel at first. Jonathan was more upset than me when he saw Simba walking over with it in his mouth, still alive. He made Simba drop it, and took the squirrel on a shovel into the woods where he placed it lovingly in the nook of a tree. He said the little guy looked ok, he didn't see blood, he was just scared.
Two hours later, Simba's back with the squirrel again, probably thinking that this is a giant game we're playing, and he's ready to continue to the next round. This time the Mama Squirrel was leaping around in the trees, making hissing noises at the cats, yelling and crying down, and the whole thing was just too pathetic.
Jonathan took the little guy to a protected place next to the house, where he had been doing construction and there were bits of wood around, and piled bricks around him in a way that he thought would be small enough so that the squirrel could get out if he needed to, but the cats couldn't get in. We called up to the Mama Squirrel that we were trying to help, and we showed her how to get to her little baby. She looked at us, and I think she understood that we were trying to help. But she still just kept crying and leaping around from branch to branch. My heart broke for her. As a mother, I couldn't imagine how much every instinct was pushing her to try to save her baby. I looked her baby in the eye and I told him that we were doing our best for him, and I sang him a song. He closed his eyes and his breathing deepened.
We had to go get my mom from the airport, and when we came back the squirrel was on the deck, lifeless. The cats had fished him out. I was instantly angry at Simba, and wanted to ban him from the deck.
But I know it was just his own instincts, and I can't blame him for acting according to his nature. It's just tough, having heard that poor mama freaking out. We couldn't have brought him in the house with our other cats. If he stood little chance outside, he stood no chance in the house. I wish we could have done something more to try to save the little guy, but then we'd be getting in the way of nature doing what nature has to do. It's hard to watch, though.