I glanced over, and saw Athena's hind end waving wildly from that direction, which is standard procedure. She sees the birds or the squirrels on the deck, her previous experience On The Importance Of Not Running Into Glass Doors fades from her memory, and she dives for them, only to crack her small, empty skull on the door and staggers back, looking dazed and slightly embarassed. Athena is a good, sweet, highly affectionate little cat, but she is also dumber than a lobotomized rock. I have personally witnessed her getting lost in an open paper bag. Not only is she the dimmest bulb on the Christmas tree, she's one of those ones that flash intermittently when all the other lights are doing a chaser pattern.
I dismissed the thud as yet another non-learning experience in the life of my cat, and was getting back to work when she stalked by, mouth full of...something.
Something pretty big.
"Is that paper?" I asked.
The cat didn't say anything, possibly because her mouth was full, but more probably because she's a cat.
"Drop that, Athena, you shouldn'tOHMYGODIT'SGOTATAIL--"
Athena gave me a haughty look. What kind of moron was I? You don't drop a mouse before you're really, really sure it's dead.
As if to underscore this point, the mouse kicked feebly in her jaws.
"Don't drop it! Don't drop it!" I was having horrified visions of spending my morning chasing an injured mouse around the living room, unsure of whether to administer the Boot of Mercy or whether that would involve a lot of time cleaning the Carpet of Finality afterwards.
Athena gave me another look, that of the professional confronted with hysterical layperson. Of course she wasn't going to drop the mouse. It was a perfectly good mouse. She just had to wait for it to die. The situation was Under Control. Perhaps I should go into the other room and let the pros handle this one. I could boil water if I needed to feel useful.
We formed a small funeral processional through the house, cat, mouse, and I. Athena decided to wander through the kitchen. I followed, armed with paper towels. Athena decided that the mouse wanted to see the bathroom before it expired. I followed. Athena considered a burial in the bed. I vetoed this plan.
"Some cats would bring their kill to their owners as a gesture of affection," I told her.
Athena let it be known that I wasn't nearly that important in her estimation. She liked me, but let's not go nuts. (Now, if James had been home, there'd have been a dead mouse draped over his toes faster than you can say "ARRRGGHHGGGETITOFF!")
Finally, with an air of great satisfaction, Athena spat the mouse onto the rug. I poked it. It had indeed passed this mortal coil, and travelled on to the Great Messy Kitchen in the Sky. I picked it up gingerly with a paper towel, wrapped it well, and disposed of the body.
Athena watched me, every line of her body saying "You gonna eat that? 'Cos if you're not gonna eat that--"
I told her she was a good, fierce, wonderful cat, but not to lick me any time in the next month, mousebreath. Since her previous hunting has largely consisted of small, unfortunate bits of cardboard and one humiliating incident when a grounded firefly chased her across the living room, this was a truly astonishing about-face.
Now, if she could just figure out how to get out of a paper sack...