Once upon a time there was a little cat. A little too old to be called a kitten, but not quite a full-fledged cat. Kind of on the border between kitten-hood and cat-hood, whatever that means. He was still trying to figure out the difference between hunting for his own food, and chasing for the simple pleasure of it.
He was not a domestic kitten; he was what some people would call feral or wildcat. He lived in a fairly suburban neighborhood, and if he were lucky, people would give him scraps, but as he was getting older and older, and les and less cute, that was happening less and less frequently.
Before it was easy, he’d see a mouse, and chase it only for fun. Most of he time he wouldn’t kill it, because then it would stop running away, and it wouldn’t be fun to chase it any more. During those times he never chased out of hunger, because there was always a kind neighborhood kid who would put out a bowl of milk for the cute kitten.
The first time he had gone for three days without any food. The way it happened was kind of automatic, instinctual. He was chasing a mouse for fun, (or so he thought) and when he got close to it, something clicked inside him, and he immediately devoured the little rodent. While he was eating it he felt incredibly proud and adult like. He had chased down and killed his first meal all on his own.
But soon after that, he found another bowl of milk. He wasn’t sure if it was for him, or for another cat, but there it was. Free food. So, of course he ate it. And somebody saw him, and thought he looked cute. They even took pictures of him, and put out more milk the next morning.
Pretty soon, he had forgotten all about the mouse that he’d caught, and how good it’d made him feel. He soon fell back into the lazy habit of trying to look as cute as possible in order to secure a bowl of milk.
That was over four days ago.
His stomach was emptier that it had ever been. And how something completely strange happened when he saw the movements of a mouse out of the corner of is eyes. Instead of getting that playful feeling of, well, cat and mouse, he felt something completely different and unexpected.
What if he didn’t catch the mouse? Before, when he was only chasing for fun, it didn’t really matter if the mouse got away. It’s not like it was important.
But now, what if he chased the mouse, and he couldn’t catch it? Would he go hungry? He might even starve to death. If the neighborhood kids saw him chasing and eating a mouse, they certainly wouldn’t think he was cute, and the free bowls of milk would stop for sure.
He saw two mice, and because he hesitated the mice quickly scurried away before he could even get into proper hunting position.
His fur was getting dirty, and he was starting to get skinny. He was becoming more and more weak with every day. The children and old ladies who gave him free milk were now terrified of him; certain he was carrying some kind of horrible disease.
He had all but given up hope, when he saw a very ferocious, very lean and strong looking alley cat. One that he was almost afraid to make eye contact with, for fear of being killed on the spot.
“How long has it been?” The alley cat asked.
“Six days.” The young cat replied.
“How many kills?”
“Accident?” the old cat asked.
“Yea. I was just playing, and then before I knew it, I was eating.”
“Yea. That happened to me to the first time.”
“Really?” the young cat perked up. Maybe there was hope after all.
“Yea. Then like you, I went a while without catching anything. I was afraid. Like you probably are. Then something just snapped. I had a moment of clarity when I realized that if I don’t kill, I won’t eat. Embrace your wickedness. You will be a much more skillful hunter if you chase for the kill, rather than chasing for fun.”
“But what if I fail?”
“If you don’t hunt, you already have. By hunting, you’ve absolutely nothing to lose, and everything to gain.”
Very soon thereafter, this young cat became a killing machine, and dominated his neighborhood.