Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Who needs ducks!

Please . . . don't tell Chloe that I've told you this story. It's one of those confusing and embarrassing stories that happen to cats every now and then. Stories which, from the point of view of the cat, should be discreetly and permanently forgotten.
However, as I know you'd enjoy hearing this tale of an intrepid cat and a pair of even more intrepid ducks . . . very quietly, whilst Chloe is sleeping . . . here goes!

Every spring our garden pond is visited by a pair of mallard ducks. They arrive in the morning, enjoy a peaceful day, and leave in the early evening. This daily routine is repeated for several months until the ducks finally depart, not to be seen again until the following spring.

The other morning Chloe and I were sitting peacefully by the pond when, with a flurry of feathers and a chorus of quacks, the ducks flew down and joined us. Chloe, who had never seen ducks before, couldn't believe her eyes . . . or her good fortune!
Two ducks . . . ? On her pond . . . ?
Deep inside her something stirred. It was the genes of her ancestors, the hunting instincts of the Bengal Tiger.

What was she supposed to do?
She knew perfectly well what she was supposed to do, it was imprinted on her DNA. Under such exciting circumstances, Bengal Cats went hunting! First, her instincts told her, they went into stalking mode, keeping well hidden so as not to startle their prey. Slowly, by these cautious means they got closer and closer, only coming out into the open at the very last moment for the chase . . . and then the attack!

Oh yes, Chloe knew perfectly well what Bengal Cats were supposed to do.

However, as she quickly discovered, it was not quite as simple as her Bengal Tiger ancestors were intent on telling her. The initial problem was the question of actually sighting your prey.
If the cover you chose to hide behind was too bulky . . . well, the ducks could not be seen. If, on the other hand, the cover was too thin . . . then perhaps the ducks could see you . . .?

It was all very baffling for a youthful cat. After several abortive attempts, Chloe decided to forego the initial strategies and move straight to the end-game. After all, it was the end-game that mattered. Crouching down, she wriggled her way to the edge of the pond in full view of the alert and interested ducks.

Poor Chloe, even this plan was foiled.
Perhaps the ducks had a more ancient gene pool? Perhaps their ancestors went back to the benevolent days of The Garden of Eden? Whatever the reason, in reponse to the sight of the advancing Chloe, the ducks lifted their heads in pleasure and started to swim towards her in greeting!

Chloe was dumbfounded. This, she was certain, was not what ducks were supposed to do. Should she join in this general amnesty and reach out for a friendly sniff . . . nose to beak . . . or would her Bengal Tiger ancestors rise up in unison, never to forgive her?

Ancestry proved stronger than amnesty! Studiously looking in every direction other than that of the approaching ducks, a disconcerted Chloe pretended she hadn't seen them.
Ducks . . . what ducks . . . ? She hadn't come into the garden in search of ducks. Backing away from the pond, she made an ignominious retreat and rejoined me, in very chastened mood, on the garden seat.

Perhaps her ancestors had got it wrong . . . perhaps cats and ducks were supposed to be friends . . ? Chloe had only one answer to these baffling questions.
Her Tiger ancestors had lived in a different, more violent era. Why hunt when you had no need to hunt? Far wiser to go indoors for the guaranteed satisfaction of a roast chicken lunch followed by a snooze on the carpet.

A 'thought bubble' above her contented stomach would surely read: "Ducks . . . ? Who needs ducks . . . !"