It was a bird this time and not a rat festively decorated with a golden bow. The boys don’t understand why Delilah, the cat who is not our cat, keeps bringing gifts of dead animals. And they don’t get that I find it a little endearing and sweet. To me it is as if she is inviting us to be part of her tribe; a way of letting us know that she considers us worthy of her feline attention. And I think she may be bragging a bit about her hunting skills.
cody: Why does Delilah keep bringing us dead things?
me: Well, for Delilah, a dead bird or snake is a gift, something nice to share.
cody: But we tell her that we don’t like dead things and she just keeps bringing them and bringing them.
carter: Bird not alive anymore? Poor bird. Why ‘Lilah make bird dead? Bird is sad momma?
me: Cody, Delilah can’t understand when we tell her we don’t like her bringing us dead things. Actually, it is her way of telling us she likes us so it is kinda nice that she shares her animals with us. Yes Carter the bird is dead. Delilah is a cat and she hunts and kills little animals. It is part of her instincts and a part of how nature works.
I figured I would leave it at that even though the scientist in me really wanted to prattle on about the birds death being a good example of natural selection. Of course, my five year old never just “leaves it at that.” He picked up on the word instinct and asked me what it meant. I explained it as best I could and we left the bird on the lawn for Husband to scoop up with the shovel; one last flight into the forest for our feathered friend. (I would have done this myself but I did not want Husband to feel left out of the whole dead animal gift giving thing.) If you are reading this Husband, you are welcome.
The next day Cody randomly asks me if plants have instincts. Ah, but I love that boy! So instead of discussing natural selection, we got to have a great conversation about phototropism, directional growth as determined by a light source. I am not really sure if phototropic behavior counts as plant instincts but it sounded nice so I went with it.