Saturday, July 21, 2007

a cat question

For some reason I awoke thinking about that odd and seemingly cruel tendency in cats to render their prey nearly dead--deliver all but the final "death blow", as it were--and then step back a couple of feet to leisurely crouch in cold observation of the slow and agonizing final moments in the insignificant life of some mouse, rabbit, or Shetland pony. My own cat is far too obese and skittish to have ever engaged in such activity, but I'm sure its one of the things lies dreaming about just before I sneak up behind him with the vacuum cleaner or a crudely fashioned can of rocks. Anyway, the whole thing seems against the streamlined nature of wild kingdom and served to implant a number of questions into my feeble and still-awakening brainmeat.

For instance, what would be the evolutionary benefit of such a thing? Was there a point on the evolutionary of timeline mice where they briefly had the ability to explode upon death? Could it be a savory revenge for any number of agonizing Tom and Jerry-like antics that elude human observation? Is the cat kindly giving the mouse time to make peace with its Jesus?

Just wondering.


Blogger jimmyb said...

Mice were indeed incendiary as late as the 1300's when various European plagues mutated them into the non-explosive critters we have today.

Google it and see...

11:24 AM  
Blogger Sara Sue said...

I'm going with "giving the mouse time to make peace with its Jesus"

12:18 PM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

I think I just found a new cat toy.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Southern Beale said...

For instance, what would be the evolutionary benefit of such a thing?

It's possible there is no evolutionary benefit. Cats are domesticated animals which skews everything; wild cats do not exhibit this source of behavior.

Years ago I read a book which posited that domestication places adult house cats into an extended "kittenhood." For example, an adult cat will still purr when its owner pets it; purring is something found in wild kittens but not adult ones, as it's a way kittens bond with the adult females in their cluster.

So, playing with prey is likely a behavior found in kittens, who use play to learn such things as defense, hunting, etc. House cats are usually well fed and because they hunt out of instinct not to eat, they need to kill and consume is not as dominant.

Hope that makes some sense.

Love, Southern Beale, who studied evolutionary biology in school a really really long time ago.

3:28 PM  
Anonymous dolphin said...

What southern beale said.

Wild cats who kill to eat, don't exhibit that behavior. For house cats, the mouse is not prey but is rather a toy. If they kill it, the game ends. Would you intentionally break a really cool toy?

4:56 PM  
Blogger Rex L. Camino said...

Your explanations seem reasonable and biologically sound, Southern Beale and Dolphin. However, I must reject them, as they clearly fall in oppostion to the "make peace with Jesus" theory which I have already accepted and traced back to an elite squad of cat-training priests in the time of the Spanish Inquisistion. Going against this now would render the work I've already done on the screenplay an utter waste of time.

10:31 AM  

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