A Dead Rat on the Doorstep

June 19, 2007

It’s weird to me, that animals have gift-giving instincts of their own. What is it that makes a cat want to give back to the gibbering monkeys that feed it? Most days, I put food in a dish for Socks, the outdoor cat that came with our house. She shows up when we park the car, is very talkative, and follows us around until we feed her. She can be very sweet, though she’s also deadly.

One day, I open the front door and there, centered on the doormat, is the punctured gray corpse of a rat laying on its side. The cat is nowhere to be seen. She didn’t put it near her dish, or leave it in the bushes like she does with her birds, and she didn’t hide it in her bed. She left it for us to find, like an offering of oranges at a Buddhist temple, or a birthday gift left on a coworker’s desk.

What compels her to do that? What does she expect we’ll do with it? If some dude left a dead rat on my doorstep, I wouldn’t take it nearly so well. It wouldn’t be sweet. But the cat dumps a body on my stoop and I think it’s cute. Life’s weird.



  1. Cats seem to leave different pieces in their offerings, too. Some leave all but the head. Some leave the whole thing. Some leave a specific organ.

    I think they’re just saying, “Fear me, for I am a mighty killer.”

  2. We had a cat for awhile who would only leave the “best” parts. At least, we thought that’s what she was doing. She was the sweetest cat, very gentle, but she’d leave bits, like mouse livers and vole kidneys, in front of the nearest bedroom door. This resulted in numerous instances of someone then placing a bare foot on the “offering” first thing in the morning, before they were awake.

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