Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Frog Trauma

Since the power washers still have not come, my front porch is still lonely and barren. When the swing is out there, along with my flower pots and various decorations, it offers a sheltered haven for various small reptiles and amphibians. Unfortunately, with all of the hiding places removed, any poor little critter is a sitting duck for my vicious hunter felines.

I didn't think about that when I went outside this evening with Stitch and Farquaad in tow. They aren't allowed to run free, but I keep them on long leashes that allow as much freedom of movement as possible. I knew they wouldn't go too far anyway, since we were in the midst of a thunderstorm. It's just the principle of the thing; they like to be outdoors, even if they venture no farther than the doormat.

Suddenly Farquaad was scratching at the door. I thought that something might have startled him, but then I saw a leg dangling from his mouth. Some poor little critter must have been hiding from the rain on our porch, and hunter kitty had followed his natural instincts. I know it's the circle of life, but I just can't stand seeing anything get caught and mangled. I tried to pry Quaad's muzzle open, but he was having none of it. All he wanted to do was bring his prize catch into the house, where he could torure it at his leisure.

I managed to determine that it was a frog, but every time I got the cat to turn it loose, he immediately grabbed it again and locked his jaws in a manner that would have made a pit bull proud. In a panic, I finally realized that I was going to have to immobilize him and disable his paws if the poor amphibian was going to avoid croaking (no pun intended...well, okay, maybe a little one). I picked him up and grabbed his paws in one hand, stroking his belly in an irritating manner with the other. He made an amazing array of annoyed noises while still managing to keep his teeth clenched. Finally, he released his jaws, and the traumatized frog was free.

Farquaad was in a manical frenzy to regain his prize, but I managed to shove him back into the house. Meanwhile, I had forgotten about Stitch, who was trying to take up where his little buddy had left off. I promptly put him on house arrest, too, and returned my attention to the poor, bloody creaure lying in shock on my porch.

Sadly, one of the frog's legs appeared to be mostly detached from its body. As soon as I saw that, I couldn't look any further. I fled into the house to send my stronger-stomached husband out. He must have thought I was crazy, wailing over a mangled frog when zillions of them probably get smooshed by feet and bicycles or chopped up in lawn mowers ever day. He went out front for a few minutes, then announced that he'd relocated the frog to the flower garden. Its leg wound was very grave, so the poor thing probably went to Frog Heaven, but at least it didn't die in the jaws of a savage cat.

I know that Farquaad was just following his nature. We try to be very careful, but every now and then a lizard or frog sneaks into the house and falls victim to our fe-lion "pride." Usually, by the time I find it, it's long dead and mangled so far beyond recognition that it doesn't bother me as much as a fresh kill. As a matter of fact, somewhere in our house there is a mummified frog corpse that seems to have disappeared into thin air. I saw the cats batting the dried-out, flattened body around the family room, and then it was suddenly gone. I don't think they ate it, but a thorough search under the couch, love seat, and entertainment center turned up nothing. If I ever notice a suspicious smell someday, I'll know why.

Perhaps I am somewhat to blame for the cats' bloodthirsty nature. After all, they live with a crabby cockatiel that loves to torment them. Bradley, the bird, is loose whenever we're home, and he lords it over the family room. He knows that he is under human protection, so when the cats are lying on the couch, he flies overhead and squawks avian obscenities. He lands right in front of them and bites them in the nose, then makes a beeline for his cage. If birds could laugh, he would be in hysterics. He's smart enough to only torment the cats when my husband and I are in the room to protect him. With all that frustration, and years of being teased by feathered prey, it's no wonder Farquaad and Stitch are desperate to catch some helpless litle creature. I think that Quaad vented two years worth of stored-up rage onto that innocent frog.

For the next half hour, Quaad sat by the front door, howling a demand to go outside and finish the job. When we realized that he wasn't going to give up until he tasted blood again, we let him out to show him that his prey was long gone. If a cat can give dirty looks, Farquaad was giving me a doozy as he sauntered back in, his blood lust unrequited. At least he stopped his incessant begging to return to the scene of the crime.

With any luck, the power washers will show up tomorrow (or maybe the next day, or the next...), and the last invisible vestigates of frog guts will be removed from my front porch sanctuary. Even though it looks clean right now, it's stained with red in my guilty eyes. Like Lady McBeth, I'll be chanting, "Out, damned spot!" for a while. And now I'll have a new duty before I bring the cats out again; I'll have to dash around the porch, chasing any errant critters to safety, before I set the furry predators loose.

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