Confessions of a Serial Killer’s Mother
In the midst of spring’s grace and summer’s radiance, God shows his cruel side.
By Mary Beth Crain
Sometimes Nature is the most beautiful of gifts. The comforting warmth of summer. The first crispness of fall. The fragrance of lilacs. The serene beauty of the fields and lakes. The cry of a newborn baby. The wonder of a starry night.
But sometimes Nature isn’t so nice. All those floods, and tsunamis, and earthquakes, and wild fires. The nasty tantrums of winter. The spring frosts that kill crops. Humidity. Mosquitoes. Hungry bears in the backyard.
And cats that kill bunnies.
Now, I’ve had cats all my life and I’ve adored every one of them, with the possible exception of a stray we named The Baron, who got into our house one night through our cat door and promptly took over the premises like he owned them. I woke up to find this big, dirty, scruffy black and grey-striped feline stretched out on my couch on his back, legs in the air, blissfully snoring. He looked so cute. But when I went over to pet him, he opened one glinting eye, hissed, and took a swipe at me, drawing blood.
The Baron was the meanest dude alive. He clawed and scratched anyone who tried to get near him. He terrorized all of us, especially my poor kitty, Trixie. He ate her food. He slept in her bed. It was just like being held hostage. We didn’t dare try to pick him up and throw him out, although one day I did take a broom to him to try and scare him off. But that was like taking a broom to Osama Bin Laden. Ha. The Baron just hissed, spat and went under the bed, where he plotted more evil strategies.
Since then, I’ve had some wonderful, loving cats, but none so unabashedly adoring as my current young male, Junior Augustus. I’ve mentioned him in a few previous articles—my big, white three-year-old with the gorgeous crossed blue eyes, who adopted me two years ago and is the closest thing to a human baby I’ve ever had. He wants me to rock him in my arms, for hours, if possible. He sleeps with his head on my shoulder, holding my finger tight in his little paw. He lives to be kissed and cuddled, and he particularly enjoys being serenaded. Whenever I sing “his” song, “Beautiful Junior,” written to the tune of “Beautiful Dreamer,” he lies there with his eyes closed, grinning in ecstasy and purring so loudly he sounds like a plane ready for takeoff.
I was convinced that Junior was the sweetest cat alive, Love Incarnate, until last week, when he showed up at the door with a tiny baby bunny in his mouth.
He stood there in all his glory, presenting it to me. “Drop it!” I screamed, paralyzed with horror. He stared up at me, uncomprehending. Then he ran over to the garden, where he opened his mouth and his prize fell to the ground. It was alive and unhurt, thank God. But as it raced off, Junior raced after it, at the speed of white light. The bunny scurried through a hole in the fence and I figured it was safe, as Junior was too big to get through the tiny escape hatch. But to my amazement, Junior merely took a flying leap and soared over the six-foot fence. I prayed that the bunny made it, but a little while later, when I went out to water my pansies, there was Junior, dining al fresco on fresh rabbit.
I went inside, my heart aching. How could my angel boy do this? And why? It wasn’t like he didn’t have enough to eat at home. Geez. He gets his pick of everything from roasted chicken to fresh grilled salmon. I could understand why he liked to catch and play with little creatures, but as for killing and eating them, that was beyond me.
Then I remembered that Junior was a scared, skinny little stray when I found him. He’d been fending for himself since he was a young kitten, and the instinct for fresh meat was obviously firmly ingrained in him.
The next night, the scenario was repeated. Junior brought another baby bunny home, and the following morning I came out on the patio to find all that was left—a tiny pelt and two tiny bunny hind feet. As I gulped at the sickening sight, Junior came over and rubbed against my ankles, purring.
“Bad cat!” I said. But he merely purred louder and butted his head against my leg. I picked him up and cuddled him. He blinked and purred and rubbed his head against my cheek. I was confused. I loved Junior with all my heart. But he was a serial killer. I felt like the mother of Jack the Ripper.
Why, I wondered, does God allow the killing of innocents? It’s the age-old cry, of course, the question mark that will forever hang over us without an answer. Those precious baby bunnies would never hurt anything. All they’d eat would be carrots and grass and roots and whatever grows in the ground. They wouldn’t kill, for either sport or sustenance. Well, my sister-in-law would argue that they do ruin gardens, but heck, as far as I’m concerned, they’re welcome to my vegetables and flowers. I don’t mind sharing the earth’s abundance, especially with such little cuties.
But ultimately, one must be realistic. If there weren’t cats around to keep the bunny population in check, well, I guess we’d be overrun with the patter of little rabbit feet. When you come right down to it, Nature is cruel—and maybe, so is God. He created Junior, after all.
So, as much as I wanted to save the bunnies, I had to bow to the will of the Creator. Everything was transpiring exactly as He/She/It had intended. Junior was simply doing his cat job. And as bizarre as it seemed, my human job was to praise him.
“Good kitty,” I said, kissing him. “Mighty hunter.”
Junior looked up at me with those irresistible crossed blue eyes and licked my cheek. I was now either a perfect mother or an accomplice to murder, depending on whose universe you were in.
So, I continue to love my cat, and to extend my heartfelt apologies to his victims. It’s a terrible position to be in, but that’s Nature.
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Senior editor Mary Beth Crain's last piece for SoMA was The Rev. Wright Stuff.
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