Yesterday I received an offering of love. It was left on the porch where it could not be missed when the door was opened. 

The beautiful young, little squirrel was lying in a fetal position, totally intact.

No blood or visible signs of injury. Two of my outside cats were sitting like statues on either side, awaiting my praise. They were proud as peacocks. Both tails swishing and a look of contentment on their little faces.

"See what we brought you to show our love. We tried for a bird, but it was too small."

My love/hate relationship with cats came to the forefront. Tears welled in my eyes and a lump arose in my throat. I wanted to lash out at them both; no matter how sweet they looked. The urge to yell at them was choking me.

It was an absolutely senseless killing as are most of the killings done by my cats. Seldom are the birds or squirrels eaten, not even a nibble. They do not kill for food, but rather as a trophy or gift of love to me. Believe me they are very well fed twice daily and given treats in between as evidenced by their rotund little bodies. I understand cats have a primal instinct to hunt. Cats can and do survive without the aid of humans by hunting birds and small game, but why must they kill when they are so well fed?

I determined the little squirrel was indeed dead before removing it. The cats received no praise from me, not even a glance. I wrestled with my anger and did not scream or yell at them as I wanted to do. I cannot keep, nor do I want, more cats inside my house than the three who have taken over my home. The others must stay outside, thus having access to birds, squirrels and rabbits. Most are too old to find other homes.

I pet, brush and trim the nails of my kitties. Give them special little treats and lots of love. Perhaps that is where I go wrong. They love me in return and want to show it by bringing me gifts. Wish they loved me less!

Clara Westerfer (US)

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