The biggest misconception in the animal kingdom is that cats and birds are mortal enemies. A product of the continuous stream of negative images broadcast in popular culture, cats and birds are placed in stark opposition to each other in the real world.
But has anyone ever stopped to ask whether or not this is true?
“It’s a total crock!” said Mittens, a duck. He lit his second cigarette of the afternoon and inhaled through his bill. “Look, am I saying cats have never eaten birds? Or that birds never eat household pets? No. I even know a owl who swooped by my neighbor’s farm one night and snagged a little terrier. It’s about survival, not hate.”
Mittens takes this a little more personally than other ducks in his pond. Unlike other birds, Mittens and his siblings were raised by a cat named Della.
“My ma, when she found us, she didn’t see an all-you-can-eat buffet. She saw babies who needed a mother—kittens with yellow fuzz.”
Della the cat found the small gaggle of ducklings just after she gave birth to a litter of her own—Mittens’ feline siblings. “She raised us all while working her job,” Mittens said. While the ducklings and kittens were sleeping, Della would sneak off into the barn and work her nightly shift catching mice.
“I’ll never forget the time she tried to teach me how to eat those rodents. I was like, ‘Hey, ma! Don’t you know I only eat bread and worms?’” He took a puff and affected a dramatic pause. “How could she know? Cats, like I said, they got that killer instinct. Just because I am, by all means, a cat, don’t mean I’m about to go around killing a bunch of rats. I got no teeth!”
The older Mittens grew, however, the harder it became. Cats are naturally averse to water; a single drop could send them into shock. And Mittens’ flippers were itching to paddle the pond.
“I had to leave. It wasn’t because I felt out of place or nothing like that. I just could hear the water calling me—not literally, of course.”
Mittens and his siblings still visit Della on the farm, and he reports they are as close as they’ve ever been. “You don’t have to purr to tell your mom that you love her,” Mittens declared. “Sometimes a quack is enough.”