Monday, April 28, 2008


We have the best neighbors anyone could ask for. Included in this lovely family is their gray tabby tomcat, Scruffy. Though they call him Scrubby. We get to take care of him when they are away. And he is the ONLY outdoor cat in this neighborhood who, for more than ten years, has survived the canyon critters comprised of coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions and cars.

He keeps the rat and other rodent population under control and he considers Wonderboy and I his family now. I, for one, regularly thank him and compliment him for helping to keep our home and neighborhood, pest free.

He is a tomcat of impressive hunting talent. He has felled critters even larger than himself. And not just for the hunt. He actually supplements his diet of canned food and kibble.

Yes, this is where this post is leading. If you are squeamish, stop here and move on to your next blog.

Our wonderful neighbors share their swimming pool with us, as we do not have one. Yesterday was very very very hot. Between activities, Wonderboy wanted to swim, so we geared up and went over.

Scruffy proudly greeted us outside, at the front door, guarding his recent kill of a large, gray rat. We walked carefully around, congratulating and complimenting Scruffy on what a clever, brave, and good cat he is, on our way down to the back yard, where the pool awaited.

Wonderboy jumped into the pool as I settled into a patio chair to work the Sunday puzzle. Scruffy soon trotted on down, carrying his prize by the scruff, and settled down next to my chair to rest in the shade. I put my feet up, just because I am a bit squeamish around dead rats, as Scruffy looked up at me, fondly, and I petted his head.

And I was fine up to this point. Until Scruffy decided to get busy. I looked down from my puzzle to see Scruffy, with impressive surgical precision, begin to peel the skin off the rat's head. And then I decided perhaps I ought to move. So I did.

It only took him about 10 minutes to cleanly take that rat apart and have it for an afternoon meal. When Wonderboy was done swimming and we were getting ready to leave, Scruffy had quite finished. We went to peek. Of course Wonderboy said "cooooool!!" when we viewed the only remains, which were the intestines, sitting under the patio table.

Neighbor "K" had come home earlier and I told him about Scruffy's rat. He said "Yeah, he likes the hearts the best".

Now before you, who have bravely stayed, might say "ewwwwwwww", I've lived with indoor and outdoor cats all my life. And I understand that when a cat shares their kill with you, this is the highest compliment. It means that they consider you part of their pride, as it were. And cats don't pick just anybody.

The other thing that this brought me to, on a hot Sunday afternoon, is how our amazing planet and the gift of creatures on it, truly take care of each other. Scruffy did not savagely tear into this rat. He delicately and respectfully took it apart and ate what was eatable, leaving the rest to biodegrade back into the earth. He helped the rats from overpopulating and having to compete too much for food.

And while I was squeamish, I saw yesterday how, in becoming disconnected from our earth by living in a sanitized, vacuumed, pest barricaded environment, I had to wonder if perhaps there is a better way to approach helping to heal our planet by looking outside the box.

For example, here in Southern California you can hire a goat herd to clear your hillside brush. I find that just so very proper and good.

As God's creatures, animals have been entrusted to us for care. After watching Scruffy, it occurs to me that if we were to support their habitats a bit better, they likely would take better care of themselves, while helping us at the same time.

Just thoughts inspired by the great and wonderful Scruffy. In whose honor I post this picture and song:


Diane said...

my mother grew up on a farm, and the first time she saw that Kliban cartoon, she laughed so hard she cried (unusual for my mom).

we truly have gotten far away from our roots.

my dog does remind me, at times.

Anonymous said...

Great cartoon...I sometimes wonder about the evolution of carnivores, though. Was it necessary for survival of the species, or did someone, a few hundred million yeqars ago, just get a little too greedy?

Jan said...

Such a good cartoon! So appropriate.

Barbara B. said...

I used to have that very poster!!!

Presbyterian Gal said...

Kievas, I don't know if it was greed or if the balance mutated somewhere at the start of the industrial revolution.

Barb, Me too! It hung in my first apartments. Along with two other Kliban cats.

Quotidian Grace said...

Great cartoon! Hooray for Scruffy/Scrubby!

Mac said...

I recently read that scientists theorize that man domesticated the dog, but that cats domesticated themselves--right after man stopped being a hunter-gatherer and began to farm. The establishment of granaries created a perfect cat deli, so they moved in, trading the indignity of tummy rubs, ear tickles, and clean cat boxes for the certain knowledge of just where the next mouse was coming from.

Rev Kim said...

When I had my cats, it took me awhile to embrace the "they really love me because they are sharing their mouse-bird-gopher-rabbit" philosophy. I'd come home to find a perfectly formed organ of some kind on the carpet, with nothing else around. But I got to the point too where I would scratch their heads and say "good cat." Scruffy sounds like a great cat!

zorra said...

That is one tough cat. I've read the average life span of an outdoor cat is something like three to four years.

When I was a child, our dog Janie used to bring dead birds to the back steps, lay them gently at my mother's feet, and gaze up in utter adoration. Good dog! we would cry. (before disposing of bird)