Yesterday I heard a rumpus in my garden and when I went outside to investigate I spotted a tiny wren bouncing from fence post to tree bough, chittering dementedly. As alarm calls go, it was very effective; the poor little bird was beside itself – I mean, really shouting.
Then, from over my back fence, I heard a woman’s voice coaxing her cat back into the house.
Now I’m no detective, but the combination of Bagpuss being corralled inside, and the wren’s distress call painted a pretty vivid picture.
Any nature lover is used to the mixed emotions stirred by seeing animals do what they do naturally – which is to follow their instincts and survive. Awe, fascination and love, can turn to abject horror on a sixpence. I’ve stopped watching natural history programmes on TV. My heart can’t take it.
Because first I’m welling up, chest heaving, when (for example) the majestic polar bear is starving and cannot feed her gorgeous ‘ickle roly-poly cubs. Ah, but then her luck changes as a cute-as-a-button seal comes flobbering along. Then the chase is on! And next I’m sobbing for the lost seal (and its family); you get my drift…
I like cats – for their grace, beauty and intelligence. I prefer dogs; for their loyalty, kindness and boundless enthusiasm (except for my poor old Rodney, who doesn’t do joy anymore – at 16, eating and sleeping is pretty much his repertoire).
But anyway, back to cats; what I don’t like is their mean streak. The vast majority of pet moggies are well catered for, dining at the feline Ritz most days. They have absolutely no need to hunt – certainly not in order to eat. So catching small furries can only be for sport and entertainment. It’s no coincidence that cruel women are often labelled ‘catty’.
I reckon old Spitycus McSpite had probably killed my little wren’s mate or offspring – which is gut wrenchingly horrid, but you can’t blame a cat for being a cat.
A whole day later, my wren is still out there, shouting retribution for her fallen friend, and if pluck could overcome might, then I reckon old Spitycus would be in the vets by now. It’s a reminder that nature is wild and cruel and impossibly beautiful.