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Little purring killing machines

Well! It seems Mr. Fuzzlepants isn't quite the cutsie-wootsie furball whiling away the day lolling on his back.

Nosiree. Indeed there is stark, bloody evidence that Miss Snugglepuss is a killing machine, elevating cats to something on the order of a feline Seal Team 6.

According to scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, cats of all stripes, from Mr. Wobblecakes purring on the couch to that feral street thug hanging out in the alley, are deadly predators racking up a litany of victims that makes Quentin Tarantino's body of work look like The Hobbit.

The researchers discovered cats have a far greater lust for violence than previously believed. It is estimated that Miss Lulu and her tabby vigilantes slaughter some 2.4 billion birds a year and another 12.3 billion mammals such as mice, rats, rabbits and squirrels. And yet, after 68 years of futility, Sylvester still hasn't managed to bag Tweetie?

So proficient are cats in stalking their prey that death-by-Mr. Twinkleface for wildlife far exceeds critters getting knocked off by cars, pesticides, poisons or any other cause.

You would probably be forgiven if you glance over at Miss Goo-Goo Eyes staring at you and cannot shake the feeling you are being sized up for lunch.

This should pretty well put to rest any doubt that dogs are far preferable companions to a Calico Tony Soprano.

For a better part of the last eight years, Gracie the Goldendoodle has managed a 100 percent failure rate in capturing wildlife we encounter on her daily walks.

It's gotten to the point where I hear the squirrels taunting Gracie whenever she makes another unrewarded lunge toward them.

For the sake of accuracy, Gracie did prevail over a chameleon some years ago. It might have already been dead. Unpleasantries ensued. This probably qualifies as gecko's revenge.

Gracie's domestic partner, 16-year-old Lizzie the golden retriever, is now retired to a life of sleeping, eating and flatulence. But in her youthful hunting days she fared no better, racking up a 0-4,654 losing streak against the local fowl and assorted vermin.

If anything Gracie is the Gandhi of dogs, seeking to bring peace and love to all — including Mr. Stanley the cat a few doors away. The goodwill is not reciprocated, nor apparently appreciated. Gracie wags her tail in greeting Mr. Stanley. She only wants to get a good whiff of well, you know where in a gesture of brotherhood, only to have her hail fellow well met overture rebuffed with a hiss and a snarl.

Gracie is often surprised and offended by the rejection. But Mr. Stanley, a cat on a mission to inflict mayhem, has no sense of humor. He doesn't want to make nice. He wants to make Muscovy duck meow mix.

This prompts the eternal question. Why would anyone want to share their lives and domiciles with a creature now statistically proven to be a death star with hairball issues?

Perhaps you are wondering how it is cats have been able to become such effective assassins. After all, squirrels are awfully quick, and birds have the survival instinct to fly away from peril.

But serial killing cats have a secret advantage. They are indeed cute. They exude warm fuzzies. They are easy to underestimate. They lure their marks into a false sense of security. And then the prey is dead.

A cat is not to be trusted, unlike the loyal, guileless dog who wears its emotions usually lathered up all over your shirt.

You know where you stand with dogs like Gracie and Lizzie, who are perfectly content as long as you give them your undivided attention — or a chew toy to be named later.

Meanwhile, you know a duplicitous, grumpy Mr. Buttons is somewhere else in the house plotting your demise, quite possibly over the humiliation of being named Mr. Buttons.

Cats are the animal world's equivalent of North Korea — distant, aloof, secretive and unpredictably dangerous. Dogs are Carnival in Rio — fun, uninhibited, eager to please.

Experts estimate there are about 86 million domestic cats and another 80 million stray and feral cats on the hunt in the United States. What should we call this yarn ball of Keyser Soze cats? The Wild Bunch of litter boxes?

Little purring killing machines 01/31/13 [Last modified: Thursday, January 31, 2013 5:30pm]

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