When You Love Different Members of The Food Chain

One of the trickier parts of parenting is deciding how and when you’ll explain to your children that the world isn’t always pretty or fair.

Promising that shot won’t hurt will make you a liar in thirty more seconds and pretending everyone is kind will backfire the first time some playground kid makes your baby cry.

Still, we live so few years in the just Disneyan universe that it’s painful to watch the colors dim. Like that time I whisked my girls toward an ice cream shop at the zoo the moment a peacock flew sideways into the wolf cage, or my avoidance of serving chicken after we raised a couple of baby hens.

IMG_4921I just didn’t want it all to click into place one night at dinner. Especially after 5-year-old Brontë started asking me if octopi had feelings, since our pet kitties obviously did.

So when my husband and I found a dead bird in the yard, we quietly disposed of it. And then a mole. Then another bird.

Until finally, Brontë and I left the house one morning to see a dead bird laying on the doorstep…

Brontë (upon seeing the bird): AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Her beloved cat Frodo proudly sits next to it.

Me: Looks like Frodo got that bird.

Brontë (horrified): Oh NO, Frodo! Bad! That’s SO sad.

Me: Well… see, I think he’s giving it to you. As a present.

Brontë: EWW!

Me (taking her hand): Well Brontë, cats eat birds. They catch them and eat them and they don’t understand how we don’t eat birds like that. Frodo probably noticed he hasn’t seen you eat a fresh bird in really long time, so he spent all day catching it for you to have a nice dinner. And he was probably sitting here waiting to see how excited you’d be about his gift.

Brontë: Aww, Frodo loves me.

Me: Yeah, he thought it would be a great present for you and that you’d really like it.

Brontë (speaking slowly to the cat): Aww Frodo, THANK YOU! That bird looks SUPER DELICIOUS. I’m gonna eat that later, kay?

(Whispering to me): Okay mom, hurry up. Let’s get out of here….

I think she handled it pretty well.



8 thoughts on “When You Love Different Members of The Food Chain

  1. I love your explanation! I’m afraid when Dudley the Brexit Cat brought his latest trophy home, my reaction involved lots more swearing and shouting! The trophy – a female blackbird – was still alive, with a broken wing – and her mate was tweeting like mad and even tried to dive bomb the cat to rescue her. Really didn’t like my cat at all just at that moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh NO! That’s so much harder, a bird in pain that’s still alive and could potentially be rescued…

      I’m not sure how I’d handle that. Probably the same way you did.

      “Dudley the Brexit cat” 😂


    2. That’s pretty scary! My cats decided to bring in a live bat. It was the craziest thing they found and they never brought pressies to use before so it was so out of the blue. I swear they were just waiting to find the most bizarre find to bring it in for us. Cats work in mysterious ways. :p

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OMG, a bat?? Wow, that’s unexpected.

        I suppose finding a bat would be a major cat feat. Maybe they were showing off. Having a live bat flying around my house would scare the hell out of me, but you can’t help being a little impressed!

        I like to think it’s a kind offering, on the part of your cats. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ok you are the boss for coming up with that off the cuff. I’d totally just pretend the bird was sleeping or something for lack of a better explanation. But it’s true. How do you show your kids that the world is pack full of ironies and contradictions? That isn’t always perfect and everyone doesn’t always love each other without making them suspicious of the world? It’s a difficult dance to do. I love that you chose this topic to write about and good on you for keeping your story telling skills sharp!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thank you! In fairness, I had already thought about the issue from the cat’s perspective. Since cats don’t have credit cards or cars, a fresh kill is really the best present they could ever give anyone… it’s gross to us, but actually quite nice from the cat’s point of view.

      So when I was suddenly thrown into the situation of explaining a dead bird to my animal-loving kid, I just went with my previous thoughts about it. I try to be honest with the kids because I’m afraid they won’t otherwise trust me, though I suppose I’m still keeping up the Santa Claus charade, lol.

      I ended up being impressed by my daughter’s ability to view the situation from a different perspective, so it accidentally also became a thought experiment in viewing the world outside her own head.

      Eh, it will be the first of many hard truths I’ll have to break to her. We’ll have to wrestle them as they come along 🙂


    1. Aw, thanks! I didn’t want to lie about the bird being dead because she’d learn the truth, sooner or later. It made me consider how sheltered kids are now compared to in other times…

      Liked by 1 person

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