Belle et Bête

Yes, she’s furious, but I’m sick of her killing other people’s babies.

Bell

Today I belled the cat

too many deaths brought to my door

when parents starve to feed their young

so many songs now never sung

because this waste I so deplore

today I belled the cat.  

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.

52 thoughts on “Belle et Bête”

  1. Pretty cat! Did you actually put a bell on her or are you keeping her inside? Around here almost everyone keeps their cats inside for another reason — between the traffic and the coyotes, it’s too risky.

    1. There’s a bell on the collar. She’s discovered the great outdoors and catches something every day. Sometimes she hasn’t hurt it and we can trick her into letting it go, but since a vole bit back, she tends to shake them to death immediately. Yesterday she caught one of the baby blue tits that had been hopping around the house. Final straw.

      1. They do and it’s all so senseless since they don’t do it because they’re hungry. In Bordeaux, centre of town, Trixie managed to catch a wryneck, a rare sort of woodpecker. Lucklily we got it away from her before she damaged it and it flew away. They don’t distinguish between common and rare when they choose their prey.

      2. I’m glad you were there to rescue the wryneck. When I was a kid, our cat would bring home dead (or mostly dead) birds and rodents to give to us. It was pretty disturbing. Now that I’ve only had inside cats for a while. I only have to watch them torture spiders and crickets.

      3. If you can get them before they’ve done any damage you can release their catch, but when they’ve half-killed it what can you do except hope they stay interested long enough to finish the job? I hate that.

      1. One little life saved. Possibly. I have been putting all her kills up by the road where passers by can help themselves. The little corpses are always gone in the morning, so they didn’t die in vain, I suppose.

      2. A good way to look at it. Nature does balance itself but I find cats (and foxes actually) difficult to forgive when they kill for the sport rather than the feed. There is a stark difference between watching a Northern Harrier or a Merlin overhead knowing they are speccing out the area and will be killing to feed their own young and watching a fox with a young squirrel in it’s mouth knowing it probably killed the entire drey-ful and left the spare to rot. I guess I should remember that someone else will come and clean up after the fox has departed. And that the fox may go back and take more back to her own set later. The cat follows it’s instincts despite being domesticated but you were right to bell her!

      3. I’m not sure they kill for fun, any of them. Even a stoat’s killing frenzy is to have a surplus to store for later. I’m not sure about mink. They are supposed to be mindless killers. Certainly all the birds that the hunters kill, the collateral damage that they’re not even aware of, and rabbits hit by cars, get cleaned up by foxes, even when they’re over a week old. They don’t seem fussy. Trixie sometimes eats what she kills but more often than not abandons it when it’s no fun anymore. I hate that.

      4. We domesticate the sense out of animals – but then Irish friends of mine had a Weimaraner that had been bred deliberately feral and it killed all their ducks and then their sons piglets ….

      5. Don’t talk to me about Weimeraners. The dog that attacked Finbar and tried to rip out his liver was a Weimeraner. The dog that tried to eat a friend’s dog was a Weimeraner. I’ve heard a lot of bad things about those dogs, difficult to handle and train to be obedient unless they’re taken in hand very young.

      6. G is rather fanciful in her ideas on occasion and got carried away with some stupid woman who need them back to nature. After the Fingal’s piglets were slaughtered by the dog (he must have been about 15 at the time) T who is an umpteenth generation West Cork farmer exploded with rare rage and shot the dog telling G there would be no more such irresponsible nonsense in future. They are need as African hunting dogs and their cold killer instinct lurks thinly veiled by those sleek pale coats and cool eyes. Human engineering of nature again of course but I would never willingly go near one.

      7. A friend from Galway has two of them and the male dog was Finbar’s best friend in Bordeaux much to my astonishment having been absolutely terrified of anything remotely resembling a Weimeraner after the attack. Congo was actually frightened of Finbar which boosted Finbar’s ego no end. There was quite a fashion for them in Bordeaux and they all seemed pretty witless as dogs go, bouncy, uncontrollable and thick as planks.

      8. *need* = *bred* Like all things there are good and bad I am sure but I tend to be suspicious of people’s ability to handle large boisterous dogs who are need to kill. One should not lose sight of the purpose of a dog’s particular breed

      9. What makes me laugh are those who squawk about avoiding GM foods whilst parading pedigree animals…. where’s the difference – it’s all genetic engineering. Give me a mongrel or a moggy every time and give me foodstuffs that haven’t been fiddled with for purely economic reasons. 🐶🐱🍎🍓🍑🥕🥔🍆☺

      10. I think that’s rather a tall order these days. Even mongrels inherit the warped genes of the dogs their pedigree ancestors. As for the food! Even on the markets half the stuff is imported from a lab in the Netherlands or Spain.

      11. I speak broadly and idealistically as you will know from my writing. I make no apologies for dropping the thought bombs out there and asking people to think about what they are doing. In France, by the way I only buy French, in Britain, British and so on. It’s been my rule for many years to eat foods produced as close to where my feet free as possible (with the exception of avocados and with the caveat that people are welcome to bring me things from their travels). Of course we, as human animals are also apt to demonstrate the warped genes of our ancestors too 😉

      12. Two of my daughters are vegan. Very laudable and I admire them for it, but they buy all sorts of food that was grown on the other side of the planet, refined and packaged somewhere else, and totally foreign to temperature European climates. I don’t know why they can’t just admit that if you are cutting out all foodstuffs of animal origin you are going to be eating vegetables, pulses, seeds, grains and fruit. They insist on trying to imitate things like spaghetti carbonara and explain how the soya whatever gives it an eggy consistency, and the dried mushrooms are exactly like lardons, but they’re not. It just tastes horrible to me. Pasta needs parmesan anyway and you just can’t fake it.

    1. I assure you she is not pleased. The last time she had a collar she hooked it on a piece of grape vine and wrenched it off, chewed it to pieces and pulverised the bell.

    1. Oh no, that would be just so domesticated! I don’t think there are mice, to be honest, not that live here. We get a few visitors and lizards, but the little cat deals with those.

  2. I guess this is a dumb thing to say, but do you know about he success of the frilly fabric cat collars that are easy for birds to see? Good topic.

    1. I haven’t heard of those. Sounds like a good idea for the birds. She tends to catch things in the long grass, mainly voles and shrews so something that they can hear is probably better than something they wouldne’t be able to see. The birds stick to the trees and the hedges are a bit far away for her to venture on her own.

  3. I’ll echo what others have said – well done on both counts! Living in a street with rows of terrace houses, we have at least seven cats that visit our garden and think it’s their territory. and not one has a bell. We’re trying to make our garden a sanctuary for wildlife – planting insect friendly plants, leaving bits to grow wild, putting up bird feeders – and it’s working, but the stalking cats have worried me, so … we bought ourselves a super soaker. One jet of water sends them scurrying and we’re definitely getting more avian visitors now. I would never, ever hurt a cat – I just wish they weren’t so damn good at hunting. Very sweet poem Jane

    1. Thanks Lynn 🙂 Apparently the old lady who lived here before us has a couple of cats…to begin with. Never had them neutered and they reproduced like crazy. There is very little traffic on the lane, just the immediate neighbours, so we get maybe half a dozen cars pass on a weekday. The cats used to wander along the road, almost cause accidents (there are ditches at either side) and they destroyed the wildlife. So one of the neighbours shot them all. That’s how they deal with things here.

      1. Wow! That’s an extreme solution – but an effective one! I’m trying to imagine the fallout a home owner would get here if they shot someone’s cats – arrest, prosecution, they’d be all over the media, lambasted online. I haven’t got as far as wanting to shoot anyone’s cats yet, but if I have to clear up much more poo I might feel that way!

      2. Apparently she was not opposed to the massacre. She didn’t have the means to look after them. We found mummified fox cubs in the barn and in the pigeon loft. Her old man must have done away with them and just chucked them in the hay! Whatever else you can accuse peasants of it isn’t sentimentality.

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