Last week, I read this story about just how many birds and other small mammals our domestic cat friends (or fiends) actually kill…And the answer is a LOT of small birds and mammals: in the USA, “between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals annually”. Wow.
Now I make no secret of the fact I’ve always had a patchy relationship with domestic cats, even though I had them in the family home growing up. There’s just something I don’t trust about a lot of cats. Which is not to say I don’t meet a cat sometimes I get on with – but I’m not of the mindset of a lot of cat-owners and cat-lovers who see them as these charmingly-aloof and ever-so-‘sassy’ little characters. To me, they usually seem just plain rude-aloof and scheming, not sassy. Not all cats. But yes, for me – most cats. It’s not personal, cats – it’s general.
I realise I’ll probably get ‘trolled’ for expressing my ambivalence about cats, but so be it. I’m a dog person. There we are. (And yes, I know dogs have been used to hunt for millennia.) So perhaps this story played into my feeling that cats are up to something – which is mostly irrational on my part (see dog comment). But it’s not irrational to be concerned about the amount of wildlife they’re killing.
As is my first-person fashion, I wrote a piece from the birds’ perspective. And, being as it’s something of a cultural phenomenon (have you seen the amount of kids wearing Angry Birds hats?), the title references a popular app-game – adding a definite article to avoid any pesky (c)opyright issues. Hopefully? Surely?
Poetry from apps – how postmodern. Po-app-ry. Said game seems to involve hurling bird-heads (or weirdly-spherical birds) at platforms in order to destroy them. This – call me macabre (I call myself macabre) – reminded me of those little ‘gifts’ cats seem to leave on doorsteps and hence informed some of the poem. Once, a cat of ours left a blue-tit head, facing the door, the right way up and in the centre of the doormat. Aww, a….gift?
The Angry Birds
Dusk. The swish of the tear
in the door. Silence. The sky a cage
of black-blue branches. Breathing.
A darkness thickens our feathers,
sticks to the points of our beaks.
We petrify. By the table of bait,
it waits. A first screech flickers
life into the street-lights. Then –
reflected on narrow green eyes –
a manicured lawn of limbs.
The baby ape takes in tiger cubs.
We watch you through the glass,
face alight, twiddling your thumbs.
Playing games in the night,
with our heads.
From up here, we look down on
the pastel television-picture within:
Kitty returns, is named, tickled under the chin;
delicately purrs at an opening tin.
And you, unwitting napkin,
with blood all over
your hunter’s hands.
And the news story by which the poem was inspired: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21236690