Yesterday after lunch, Speedy and I were having coffee in the bedroom. The sliding door leading to the garden was open and I had a good view of the portion of the garden where the two sili (chili) plants grow. One of the two sili plants, the taller one, is propped up with a piece of wood because it keeps bowing down which I always thought was the result of the heavy rains and gusty winds over the past year. Then, came this bird.
You can see him right there where he alighted after feeding on the sili (leaves or fruits, I didn’t see that close). Now, this wasn’t some small bird. It was twice as large as the common maya, long plumes at the tail, white breasted and with a long thin beak.
There, you can see its beak. When it alighted on the thin branches of the sili tree, the branches looked like there would break. I didn’t shoo him away though. I like to see birds in the garden.
So, I took photos. And I told Speedy, Look! What a pretty bird! And he left his chair, came by the door and looked. But since he was looking at the entire garden while I was focusing on the bird through my camera, he saw something else that I didn’t.
One of our cats was slowly inching his way toward the bird. But the bird was smart. It flew off before the cat got dangerously near. And the cat looked angry for losing his prey. He stayed in that spot for a few minutes, probably hoping the bird would come back. But it didn’t.
So, the cat went back inside the house. It stayed by the door for a long time. Waiting. For a prey that never returned.
It was nature unfolding, of course. Cats are hunters by nature and birds are among their favorite preys. Nature. Natural. Just as it is part of a male cat’s natural behavior is to roam (I call it prowling), fight with other male cats and to spray urine (territorial marking, a trait likewise exhibited by male dogs). Neutering (surgical removal of the testicles) is said to alter these natural proclivities.
This particular tomcat from Pepper’s second litter and her only surviving offspring (whom Speedy and I call Psssst! but whom Sam insists on calling Cute) exhibits all these inclinations. When stray cats enter the garden, he fights with them (Alex’s tomcat, Maki, by contrast simply runs away and hides –weird because he used to be the aggressive one). And, sometimes, the fights are carried on inside the house. So it isn’t uncommon to wake up and see a lot of fur on the stairs. In some cases, there is the smell of urine and, in really bad cases, feces probably excreted at the height of a fight. And Psssst! even has cuts on his face sometimes. And I’ve wondered more than once if having him neutered would prevent all of that from happening. Or, at least, make them infrequent and less violent.
But. BUT. Would neutering make him lose that swagger that comes so naturally to male cats? That daring-do attitude? That devil-may-care look? Like stripping him of his personality, for lack of a better word.
So, I sit here wondering if we’d be doing the cat a service or a disservice by having him neutered.
In case you’re wondering why Maki, the other tomcat, is not part of the neutering consideration, that’s because Sam and Alex are still hoping that Maki would mate with Pepper. Pepper is a Persian (see photo), Maki is part-Persian and part-Himalayan (see photo), and their offspring will probably look gorgeous. And although Maki used to be the very aggressive one, he no longer is, for some reason. Without surgery whatsoever. So, perhaps, behavior can change too without surgical intervention.