Sleepy Eyes climbed over the fence carrying a huge rat by the scruff of its neck. The rat wasn’t dead yet, but it would be soon, thought Sleepy Eyes happily. Such a big one – it would be food enough for her and her kittens. There they were: Piglet and Duffer. Stupid names, given by the humans; couldn’t they see he was a kitten, not a piglet? So he had a bit of a snub nose. That didn’t make him a piglet! After all, if he was a piglet, what did that make her? Stupid humans! Sleepy Eyes snorted as indignantly as she could without letting go of the rat. It wasn’t easy. Duffer was a slightly more accurate moniker, she had to admit. The small brown fellow was as cute as anything, but nobody could accuse him of being smart. Just the other day he’d been sitting outside the gate, a mere three feet away from a big brown dog. Of course the humans had seen that. One of them hurriedly picked him up and threw him inside the gate. Then they had also seen him the next day, scrambling for dear life as another big brown dog chased him across the street. He’d only just saved his hide by crawling under the gate. It was a close shave. Of course, all cats had such close shaves at some point – that was how you separated the wheat from the chaff, thought Sleepy Eyes with just a hint of smugness. Only, when Duffer got into those scrapes, you tended to pray for him; it was so apparent that he didn’t have a lot going on in his head. He was going to end up being chaff someday soon.
They’d seen her now. Duffer just watched lazily, but Piglet was off at a run, bounding over the grass toward her. In a trice, he had wrestled the rat from her jaws. Sleepy Eyes gave in reluctantly. He was her son, after all, her first born in fact. Having got hold of the rat, Piglet ran off to the middle of the lawn. Idiot. A sensible cat took his prey to a secret hiding place. And he was holding it all wrong, from the butt instead of the neck. Holding it from the neck, there was some chance of puncturing a vein and letting it bleed to death. But Piglet didn’t know that yet. The rat was almost as big as he was, and much older and much, much smarter. Piglet laid it down on the grass and didn’t know what to do next.
Ah, there was Mister Black. A big, strong, handsome tom, with glossy black fur, a long, thick tail, and menacing green eyes. The humans didn’t like him, but Sleepy Eyes didn’t mind him. True, he had killed at least one of her half-sister-from-another-litter’s kittens and had made a good attempt to kill the other four as well. But that was just him doing his best to pass on his genes like a good tom should. Kill the other toms’ kittens and mate with the mother as soon as she’s ready. That made sense. Sleepy Eyes, very sensibly, had mated with him and with all the other toms in the neighborhood. She only had two kittens but nobody knew whose they were, so everybody left them alone. That was the way to do it. Mister Black didn’t trouble her kittens at all.
The humans always chased Mister Black away. And there was a human watching them now. This one, the woman, wasn’t so inimical towards Mister Black, but Mister Black knew better than to trust any member of this race. He threw Piglet a disdainful look and strolled off majestically, ignoring the woman.
Piglet let go of the rat’s butt and the rat promptly limped away, heading, for some reason, towards Duffer, who had trotted along to see what all the excitement was about. Noticing this belligerent beast almost as big as him heading in his direction, Duffer promptly jumped a few feet back and looked around for protection. Piglet, rather nonplussed at this turn of events, followed carefully behind the rat. Sleepy Eyes sighed. It was going to be a long, hard battle now.
The rat found a nice leafy spot to hide in. Sleepy Eyes goaded him with a quick, careful paw. He jumped. They both waited a few minutes and then she tried again. He jumped again. He was big, he was evil, he wasn’t significantly wounded, and he sure as hell wasn’t going down without a fight. He had a tiny mouth full of sharp teeth and tiny beady black eyes that tracked her every move. He jumped, he growled, he did the rat version of snapping. Sleepy Eyes was not a big cat. Piglet was useless, Duffer was worse than useless and everyone, even the rat, knew that cats didn’t hunt in packs.
The action progressed sporadically from one bush to another. Once, for a few minutes, the rat maneuvered himself out of cover into a sandy patch and Sleepy Eyes thought she had him. But no. He jumped, snarled, and scurried around until he found a thick patch of Pentas to hide under. Try as she might, Sleepy Eyes could hardly get a paw through to whack him.
Then The Lil Girl turned up. She was Sleepy Eyes’ twin, but neither of them cared to remember that anymore. They tolerated each other, more or less (Sleepy Eyes more, The Lil Girl less), but The Lil Girl was a good hunter. She’d been known to catch squirrels, even pigeons on a lucky day. And plenty of rats, of course. The Lil Girl eyed the action in a desultory fashion. She didn’t seem to fancy the odds, so she sat down next to the Pentas and started to wash her face. The cheek of it, thought Sleepy Eyes. At least she could have shown some interest. After all, The Lil Girl had a brood to feed as well. Of course, they were still walnut sized, eyes still closed, nowhere near eating solids yet, but all the same. A lactating mother needs her protein.
Sleepy Eyes sighed as the rat, sensing her distraction, made a run for it. For a large, overweight rodent, he was surprisingly nimble and in a flash he had scrambled over the wall, up the fence, shimmied up a drain pipe and leapt into the first floor balcony of the next building. Sleepy Eyes gave chase, but her heart wasn’t in it. She couldn’t shimmy up the drain pipe, she knew that much for sure. And such a large and aggressive beast, was he even worth it? She’d already wasted a good 45 minutes playing cat and mouse games with him in the garden. She stared up at the balcony wistfully. There goes dinner, she thought sadly, as Piglet came bounding up to her and Duffer watched from below, trying to find a route that worked for him. Dinner would have to be cow’s milk from the stupid humans again. Cow’s milk! As if any self-respecting cat ever ate cow’s milk. And they had chicken tonight, she had smelled it. Humans were funny – the brought their catch home smelling nice and fresh, raw, bloody, just begging to be eaten. Then they made it cold. Then they mixed it with a lot of foul and toxic things like onions (sheer poison! Humans really didn’t know anything!) and garlic (seriously!? Garlic!?!) and then they made it really hot and then they ate it. Such a waste!
Oh, well, thought Sleepy Eyes sadly as she climbed down and ambled over to lie in the shade with Duffer and Piglet. There will be more rats to hunt. Tomorrow is another day.