A tale writ large — in blood

I woke up late yesterday. Not the kind of late where you feel all rested and refreshed and ready to take charge of the day. The kind where you know you’re in last place before you even get started because you went to bed way too late and in fact you might cheerfully kill for an extra hour of sleep and your eyes are open but not quite focused and you’re damn glad no one else is awake because if you had to actually speak to someone they might spontaneously combust.

You know, a typical workday.

So I can perhaps be excused for not noticing right away — in fact, not until after I had fed the cats and put the tea kettle on to boil — that there was blood all over my kitchen floor.

Okay, fine, it wasn’t “all over” the floor. There were a couple smallish strategically placed globs of it and several big streaks. And a few scattered smudges. But it pretty much covered the span from wall to wall and cupboard to baker’s rack.

It was all over the damn place.

My first thought was, Oh hell. Am I bleeding? How could I be bleeding and not know it? I hobbled around like a demented stork, peering groggily at the bottom of first one foot and then the other. I was not bleeding. I looked twice, just to make sure. Did I mention I was not quite awake?

Then I thought, Oh crap. One of the cats is bleeding. So I watched the two of them stalk each other around the kitchen for a while, seeing as how I was too bleary-eyed to pick them up, turn them over and inspect their paws. Trust me, that kind of maneuver is risky even when you’re wide awake and fully caffeinated. But no, there was no blood creeping in on little cat feet. Phew. Not an injured cat.

So, what the hell? Why was there blood all over my kitchen? I decided one of the cats must have gotten into something during the night and cut a paw but had since stopped bleeding. Made sense to me. And I know darn well which of the two cats [ahem] is wild-ass crazy and likely to get into things. And which cat owner [ahem] should have to clean up the carnage.

So I’m pretty sure that on my way out the door to work [late! GAH!] my still-groggy self said to my half-awake daughter, “There’s blood all over the kitchen floor.” I ignored her startled exclamation. “I think she’s fine now, but check your cat’s feet for cuts. Oh, and clean up the mess she made. Gotta run!”

I got a text message an hour later:  Her feet are fine. I think maybe she killed a mouse.

A mouse? Okay, now I’m skeptical. My cat has killed a wayward mouse or five in her time, but there was never any blood involved. Do mice even have blood? Apparently my cat is too polite to inflict death by exsanguination. Plus she doesn’t have front claws.

I texted back:  Eeeww! But where are the random parts? She wouldn’t eat ALL of it would she?

No reply.

So I got home from work and asked again. “Where is the rest of this supposed mouse? Are you sure she didn’t just cut herself? I can’t believe she ate the claws and the tail and . . . and . . . the skull and–”

“Mom! Stop! That’s just gross.”

“Well, the carcass has to be here somewhere,” I said. “Help me look.”

We looked. No mouse parts.

My daughter said, “She keeps going over to her litter box. Do you think . . . maybe?” So she went over and cautiously poked around in the litter box. No mouse.

Then her cat went over and poked around in the litter box. Vigorously. And ten seconds later came charging into the room where we were sitting, proudly flipping a little dead mouse body up into the air and swatting it before it hit the ground and then flipping it up again.

My daughter was horrified and rushed to separate the triumphant cat from her battered trophy. “Mom, grab her. Or grab the mouse. Quick, before she–”

Too late. The cat swatted the mouse and flipped it across the room, narrowly missing my daughter as it flew past. “Mom! It’s not funny!”

I thought it was hysterical. I know, I’m weird. But the cat buried the mouse in her litter box, for godsakes. And waited for us both to come home so she could pull it out and show it to us. Practically preening in anticipation of high praise.

Instead she got yelled at, her prize revoked. Poor thing must have been wondering whatever happened to the concept of hail the conquering hero. To the victor go the mouse spoils, and all that.

I was laughing pretty hard by the time our uninvited guest was duly shrouded in double-bagged plastic. Until I realized I still had mouse blood all over my kitchen. No, my daughter hadn’t cleaned it up. She’d been out visiting friends most of the day. Plus she claimed it wasn’t her responsibility. Hrumph.

“It was your cat who made the mess,” I said.

“It was your mouse.”


So we both cleaned it up. I thought a wet paper towel was sufficient.

“Mom! Are you just using water?”

“Um, yeah.”

“Gross. You don’t know what that mouse had in its blood.”

“What, platelets? Geez. It’s not like it had AIDS.”

“Oh. My. God. Where’s the Lysol?”

By the time she was done, my kitchen floor was so clean you could have eaten off it. If you were a cat. Who had just caught a mouse.

So, how was your day? Clean up any crime scenes lately?

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21 responses to “A tale writ large — in blood

  1. McB

    ROTFLMAO!!! I can’t help but think that your dd’s kitty didn’t want to risk the other cat taking credit for the kill. Very smart cat.


  2. Hanta virus! Plague! Fleas, even!

    My cat used to bring us bunnies, minus the brains. Apparently, bunny brains are nummy.


    Funny, KD, very funny.


  3. Cary

    Okay, I’m desperately trying to keep from alerting my co-workers to my browsing activity while snorting Pepsi up my nose. This is too funny. Buried in the litter box. AIDs carrying mice? WHERE do you live?


  4. Good thing it wasn’t a cockroach… ’cause nobody likes a litterbug.


  5. Penny


    Okay all of you are very funny. Thanks for the laughs.


  6. jenb

    Glad I had put down my cup of coffee; I doubt that Walt would have apprecipated his keyboard filled with hot coffee.
    Thank you for this morning grin!


  7. Y’know, I almost didn’t post this because I thought maybe it was too disgusting. Then I thought, oh please, no one reading this blog is going to care about that.

    Glad you all enjoyed it. DD and her cat left for New Orleans early this morning. Not sure what I’m going to do for excitement now . . .

    Probably I’ll have to make stuff up.


  8. Friendly Lurker

    “I hobbled around like a demented stork…”

    “…there was no blood creeping in on little cat feet.”

    And phrases like these would be the reason I have been lurking around, reading, for, lo, these many years. Love your voice, your sense of humor, your way with words in general. I can’t wait to read whatever you write!

    So glad your daughter made it to her destination safely and wish her every happiness. I’m sure your beautiful kitty is happy to have her territory to herself again.

    Oh, and, Merry? “…nobody likes a litterbug” – ?!?! Groan! But hilarious…


  9. Okay, I take full credit for that whole demented stork thing. Not the first time that description of me has been apt. But the little cat feet? That was a flagrant and (I’d hoped) obvious rip-off of Sandburg:

    The fog comes
    on little cat feet.

    It sits looking
    over harbor and city
    on silent haunches
    and then moves on.

    I was thinking of Louis when I butchered that piece. He quoted that poem to us once, long ago, when he was describing the fog in San Francisco and reminiscing about his brief time spent there during the war. Quite a guy, our Louis, quoting poetry.

    And I have to tell you, FL, the people who say they can’t wait to read whatever I write are the only reason I keep writing. So thank you. It means more than I can ever express. So glad you decided to stop lurking.

    BTW, we try not to encourage Merry’s excellent witticisms. Much. It just encourages her. 8)


  10. Friendly Lurker

    Oh, yes, it was obviously a Sandburg rip off, but that is EXACTLY why it delighted me so, used in this rather grotesque setting (albeit cleverly). 🙂

    I’ve laughed aloud at Merry’s excellent witticisms more than once, and was moved to tears (okay, outright sobbing) as she wrote about her recent sorrow – I just can’t help it, whether it encourages her or not. She has a way with words which I appreciate also!


  11. I agree with you about her way with words. You should see her emails. Um, no wait, maybe you shouldn’t. Not without a permission slip. And a waiver from Homeland Security. Seriously, Merry is an incredibly talented writer, much more so than she gives herself credit for. Someday I will convince her of that.

    And yeah, I cried over Tanji too. That noble baby wolf was much loved by many of us.


  12. My recently deceased cat Nubber – may he rest in peace – always chewed the “meeces” (ha!) feet off. Lord knows how long he tortured the fuzzy critters. Once dead, he would leave them outside our bedroom door as a ‘gift’. Thankfully, never found a bloody one – we had white carpet in that house. (Gross stepping on a corpse 1st thing in the AM.) After we moved to Florida – his victim of choice changed to lizards, but they never made it past the tiled porch. THEY were messy.


  13. Dave, I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s hard when we lose our furry friends.

    My cat used to kill the little lizards too, when we lived in Florida. I don’t remember them being messy — maybe they were a different (smaller) kind of lizard. Plus, she pretty much ate them. Except the tail. I can always tell when she’s eaten a cricket here. I find a little pile of cricket legs on the floor, like someone didn’t put away all the pieces of a miniature Cooties game.


  14. Yeah, the old boy was 17. Feel badly that his last days weren’t spent at home on his favorite porch chair. He never adapted to S Fla. I posted something about the ordeal in May. No more pets for us – not with my schedule. When I was working in Chicago in ’08, – we flew home on weekends to take care of the cat (& plants). Friday night fly south – Saturday afternoon fly north, w/ the annoying rental car nonsense at each end. Spoiled little bugger he was.


  15. Yeah, the things we do for our pets (and kids). People who don’t have any think we’re nuts. But we understand. I have a feeling Nubber knew he was much loved, no matter where he spent his last days.


  16. Curse it, I’m too busy blushing to nag Ms. James with BDY queries.


    If someone likes neither pets nor children… back away from the verrry slowly.


  17. from them not from the. Dang it, WordPress, stop that!


  18. Sometimes WP has a way with words, or the occasional letter, as well.

    And you’re welcome. Is your book done yet? 8)


  19. No, damn it, it’s not. How did you know I’ve got a manual due tomorrow? And I have no idea how to write it: the engineer who knows how the system is supposed to work just took off for Australia, or Amsterdamn (sic) or some other place from the front end of the alphabet. I’m looking at an all-nighter and I’m thinking that I should just say @#!% and do it tomorrow. So what if they fire me and I lose my job and have to move back in with my mother because I can’t afford the house payments? It’s not as if I have a dog. What the hell. Aw, hell.

    Um… is there an anti-diarrheal-of-the-mouth treatment for extra-long comments like this one?


  20. See? See? Did you see what WordPress did with that extra letter? I’m not paranoid; it really is out to get me…


  21. Um, Merry? If the only person who knows how the system works is an engineer from some front end of the alphabet country . . . damn, girl, you’ve got it made. Make stuff up. Chances are, he’s the ONLY person who is ever going to read the manual. End users won’t read it, they’ll just keep trying different random things until it works (why yes, I am a highly proficient end user). Or they’ll call Tech Support, who will lie to them until something works. Go home. Go to bed. Focus on the manuals people are going to read. They’ll give you a raise in the morning for being so productive in the absence of supervision.