Kill all the rats you want, if you can catch them. But remember it’s a sin to kill a robin

If you are thinking this title looks vaguely familiar, then you’ve probably read the book To Kill A Mockingbird.

When talking to Scout, Atticus Finch says

‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’

I had a similar conversation with my two cats over Christmas, when I came home from work and found a dead robin on my kitchen floor.

I love robins. I believe in the spiritual meaning for sighting a robin. I’ve experienced it first-hand. I believe that seeing a robin indicates someone who has passed, and who loves you, is around you.

I know that sharing my house with felines means that I will come home to the occasional rodent or aviary murder scene, and I accept that. It’s their instinct. It’s inborn in them, and I understand that it’s their way of showing me their affection. Allowing me to share in the rewards of their hunt. I acknowledge that these are presents for me, their way of saying they love me, but I wish they would say it with flowers, or wine…. Preferably wine.

I’ve become quite accustomed to chasing rats, mice, birds, shrews and the occasional slow worm around the kitchen with my homemade catching kit. (A pair of gloves, a cardboard tube, a shoebox with holes in just incase I have to nurse anything back to full health, and a gallon of disinfectant to clean up afterwards).

Over time, I’ve become quite adept at it. That wasn’t always the case though, at first I was afraid. I was petrified. Kept thinking I will never rest until this rats outside…..

I won’t deny, the day I came home and found the robin, I was livid. Now, the general rule is you cannot shout at or punish your cat for bringing animals home to you. It confuses them. It puts them off balance. Upsets their status quo. It would be like chastising a child for bringing you a mud pie they’ve made from the garden. You appreciate the sentiment behind the gesture, but you really wish they wouldn’t.

I felt the need to set some ground rules though, so after delicately setting the robin in it’s final resting place,  the forest behind my house, I set about having ‘the chat’ with my cats.

Wild eyed Cochen!

Minnie doing her 'I am what I am' routine

I found them both upstairs, fast asleep in the spare room, clearly tired from their latest killing spree. In a soft voice, and with a smile on my face, I started the conversation..

‘Which one of you did it?‘… They both looked at me with their kitten cat eyes (the feline equivalent of puppy dog eyes).

Actually it doesn’t matter which one of you it was, you can both hear this. Now listen up, and listen good. Real good. (I’m not sure why I turned slightly American at this point, and even the cats were looking at me with a ‘why are you talking like that?‘ look, but I went with it!).

I don’t ever want a repeat of what I’ve come home to tonight. I don’t ever want to find a robin in the house again. They are beautiful little birds and you should leave them well alone. Do you both understand? Although I’d prefer it if you took up a less violent hobby… maybe knitting or scrapbook making perhaps?,  I know you know no better. Thank you for my gift, but it really wasn’t necessary and from now on, no more robins. OK?

Now, lets have a cwtch* and we’ll say no more about it. All I ask is that you listen to what I’ve said.

*Cwtch – the welsh for hug, cuddle etc


With that, I smoothed them until they were both purring machines and went back downstairs.

For the sake of the local wildlife, I kept them in that night. Cochen, my little ginger cat was in the mother of all bad moods because of this. Every time I attempted to walk from one room to another, she would pounce at my ankles and wrap herself around them kicking with her back paws… Looking into her wild eyes, our minds met telepathically… ‘It was you wasn’t it?’..