Cat killed a bird.

She snatched it from the table

where the crumbs were spread, a death trap.

Cat dropped the bird

in exchange for a few biscuits,

but it was dead, neck broken,

still warm and supple,

no blood, no wounds, eyes closed,

sleeping except for the limp neck.

Young bird, one of this summer’s brood,

survived the hecatomb of bird infancy

to finish in the jaws of a well fed cat.

There is perfection in a bird,

even a humble sparrow,

the colours bright and vivid, like a tree trunk,

so many shades of brown and grey,

feathers downy, soft,

and wings and tail, flying machine.

How long before humanity learned how to do so much?

Bird is gone,

a speck less in the sky,

one voice missed in the morning squawk,

one mate less when the spring couples form,

and cat, sleek and replete,

will have her biscuits regardless.

But I, the thrower of crumbs, will mourn a death

that was of my making.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

17 thoughts on “Waste”

    1. I’m afraid you’re right. Domestic cats are a sort of parable for our western way of life. Even if we don’t need it, we take it, break it and throw it away. The rich in all countries and culture do the same. The hunting culture is exactly that. The cat accepts the comforts of what we provide but reserves the right to keep her paw in with wild urges. Cats have little impact on the world, but unfortunately, we do.

      1. So true. We humans have the biggest impact in undermining this world of ours. On New Year’s eve, I was hiking Muir Woods National Monument. Everywhere there were signs to be within the boardwalk, but one gentleman had his kids up a fallen tree trunk quite beyond the boardwalk, taking photos of his kids. I wanted to say something but my wife stopped me. Now I am feeling guilty for not speaking up.

      2. He is symbolic of the attitude that what matters is me and what I want. They either deny there’s anything wrong with what we are doing to one another and the planet, or they shrug and say, so what, we’re all dead in the end. Maybe we should just shoot those kind of people now and save the environment the bother.

      3. It was tongue in cheek, and shows just what a humane person you are 🙂 I would never really suggest exterminating people I disagree with, and I’m touched that you defend that principle.

    1. I have a love hate relationship with cats. They are beautiful creatures, even the fat ones, but they have lost their way. We have made them fat pashas with no point in life and most people, even cat owners hate the needless killing they get up to. Like us in many ways.

      1. Indeed they are. My last cat was called Boost The Impaler …. he was actually a hopeless assassin which made him far more bearable – he just imagined he was lethal which was much more palatable than a honed hunter that can’t switch off the kill button.

      2. It’s a while since Trixie’s caught anything. She usually stops when she’s bitten the tail off a lizard, gets engrossed in watching it twitch. The last bird she caught was a young wryneck, rare species and god knows what it was doing in our back garden. She let it go unharmed in consternation, the way it was twisting its head round freaked her out, I think.

  1. No Jane not of your making ; natural selection made the cat an instinctive predator. It clashes with our sensitive moral nature. Fortunately we left the world of natural selection and we judge our own actions and animal actions in the light of moral conscience.

    1. I wouldn’t judge a wild animal hunting for food at all, but I feel that our urban lifestyle is unnatural. A domestic cat does have the instinct to kill, but it’s a perverted instinct in that its motive is not to feed itself. It kills but usually doesn’t eat what it catches. We feed birds because we feel sorry for them, because they have come into an urban environment where we make the rules, not nature, and where there is little for them to eat unless we provide it. We attract them into our gardens to give them a chance to survive the winter and our cats kill them. That’s how I see it anyway, and when I see the cat hovering round the bird table I keep an eye open for the birdlife.

      1. I agree but I would say it is instinctive and what is instinctive cannot be subjected to human judgement. What about gulls that turn over our rubbish tips or pigeons who destroy our neat clean roofs? For my part I say if they can find a nitch good luck to them.
        Our urban lifestyle is not at all unnatural it’s our best chance of survival. You might as well say wearing clothes is unnatural, or cooking food.

      2. It’s become our natural but that’s us, not them. When we take what was once wild and cover it with concrete it can’t be called ‘natural’ any more. Animals have to adapt or die, and in adapting they lose something. Domestication is different again, it’s turning a wild animal that is afraid of man to a creature that serves man. I can’t help thinking there’s something unpleasant in that rapport.

      3. We are off again Jane , but I will have one more dig. You are right zoo’s are unnatural environments for some animals, but the urban Fox is a happy adaptable fellow as are the rat and the gull. It seems to me that we serve our cats and they do little for it , except perhaps the ferral farm cat that earns its keep. Now I will resist temptations and leave you the last say if you wish.

      4. Yes, some animals do adapt to our way of life. Most though don’t, and all the large predators from the fox upwards (hyenas, jackals, wild dogs etc) are killed as vermin when they encroach on our territory. It’s just the way I feel about it, guilt at what we have done to other species and genuine soft heartedness at death and suffering.

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