Belling the Cat

January 28th, 2007

     We have cats… two of them.  They were free cats, offered at a local feed store.  The young boy always dreamed of having his own kitty… and providence placed us in front of a basket of cute little kittens at an appropriate time.  Not being satisfied with one, we picked another and proceeded to raise them inside the home.  Being responsible pet owners, they have been spayed, neutered and vaccinated…  and as “farm cats” they have the run of the laundry room and two doors to take them wherever they please outside.  They love being outside… in fact they live for being outside.  Now I know some cat lovers believe one should never let a cat outside… Oh! They might be injured or eaten by another animal!  Yes, that is true.  And we might be run over by a car, or fall down the steps, etc, etc.  And we live in the country.  They still have their claws.   The three dogs know that very well.  They come in at night and we lock the door.  These are not suburban house cats… they were born and bred for enjoying nature in all its glory.  To deny them the joy of playing and chasing each other in the grass… climbing trees… lazing quietly in the sun, or chasing grasshoppers… here it would be to deny their nature. I am thankful we can offer them the opportunity while sharing our lives together.

I™m Sparky!

     We had high hopes for these two lovely animals as “mousers.”  Sparky looks like a Tabby, and is warm and affectionate wherever he goes… he follows me around, jumps in my lap and embraces life with an abandon and freedom of style that shows he enjoys every day. Princess looks more like a Calico, and is wary, skittish, chubby, affectionate on her terms, and extremely capable at getting critters.  They are great with people and don’t mind the dogs a bit.  And yes, they have garnered moles and mice from the property to which I applaud.  But then too- they are skillful birders.  I have never seen them catch a bird, but they lie in wait, and when I least expect it- I find a small bird in the driveway… or somewhere else.  You see, one day I heard quite a commotion in the laundry room… tussling, thumping and wrestling.  I thought it to be two cats playing as they normally did.  I was not prepared later however to find the laundry room covered in blue and white feathers as if a great battle had played out.  Alas, the Blue Jay did not win that battle.  Surprising that it was caught because Jays are normally wary and capable themselves.  But because I love birds, feed birds and study birds… I could not embrace the hunting prowess of our lovely cats with respect to birds.  I admire their skills to be sure… I love the outdoors, fishing and hunting myself.  But after seeing the results of their handiwork, it was time to do something.   Cats are curious creatures- one is never quite sure why they stalk, hunt and gather their victims.  It is their nature.  Or perhaps one is absolutely sure that they do it because it is their nature… I™m Princess!

     So with loving fanfare I finally bought two safety collars (they snap open if the cat is caught on something) and two nice sounding bells.  These bells are amazing… they don’t simply jingle occasionally, they tinkle, jingle and ring no matter what one does.  When the cats turn their heads… “ting….” and when the cats take a step… “jingle, jingle.”   Oddly- the cats don’t seem to mind the gentle noise or the collars- they play with each other, and roam around the outside of the house as before.  Yet a subtle difference can almost be seen… they don’t lie in wait quite so eagerly anymore.  They walk and sit looking longingly at the birds perhaps dreaming of days-gone-by.  I’m sure they will succeed at times simply because of their speed and agility. The cats are fun, and great companions.  But for now, they will have to learn a few more tricks… the birds will know they’re coming!

     The phrase “Belling the Cat” comes from Aesop’s Fables.   It’s a story that I think of with the expression “Easy to say, harder to do.”  

Long ago, the mice had a general council to consider what measures they could take to outwit their common enemy, the Cat. Some said this, and some said that; but at last a young mouse got up and said he had a proposal to make, which he thought would meet the case. “You will all agree,” said he, “that our chief danger consists in the sly and treacherous manner in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could receive some signal of her approach, we could easily escape from her. I venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached by a ribbon round the neck of the Cat. By this means we should always know when she was about, and could easily retire while she was in the neighbourhood.”

This proposal met with general applause, until an old mouse got up and said: “That is all very well, but who is to bell the Cat?” The mice looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said:

“It is easy to propose impossible remedies.”

                                                                                                                                                    Courtesy of the Free Library

2 Responses to “Belling the Cat”

  1. I had always heard the phrase “belling the cat”, but never heard about the fable…how interesting! I’m sure the birds thank you for achieving the “impossible remedy”. Fairyellen

  2. […] grasshoppers and lying on the window sill!  And yes, they have bells on their collars, which is a whole different story. […]

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