"O what have I done? I've killed the wabbit!" -- E. Fudd

Disclaimer: the following article deals frankly with the violent death of a small, furry creature. Probably not for the squeamish. On the other hand, it is the stuff of every day -- we just don't all get to see it.

You have been warned. 


George caught a baby bunny in our front yard this morning. It happened before my very eyes.

I had just arrived at home - I hadn't even gotten all the way out out of the car yet. Just like any other morning, George came out from wherever he had been holed up, stretched, meowed and started up the path toward me. I called out, "Good morning, George! Did you catch the mouse last night?"

He stopped, distracted by something in the grass just off the gravel. He pounced on it and held it up by the back of the neck. What was it? It took me a few seconds to figure out. It was way too big to be a mouse. Not a rat, either. Red squirrel? Big even for that, and no visible tail. At least the size of a gray squirrel.

Then Cat Mandu turned and I saw the ears and eye. Bunny!

I really couldn't scold him for it. Not after the way I've encouraged him. Every day, at least once a day, I tell him to go out and catch a mouse. Or, if the birds are singing, I'll tell him to catch a bird. Or a frog, if it's raining. So when he caught a half-pound bunny right in front of me, what could I do? I praised him high and low.

But I'm pretty sure that George didn't actually kill the little critter. That honor likely goes to Rocko.

It took me a few minutes to get the house open far enough for Rocko to come out and for me to go in; George was between me and the door with a still-living rabbit in his jaws. He wanted to bring it in, and I wasn't having it. Finally I managed to distract him out into the yard long enough to let Rocko out, and told Rocko to "go see George's bunny!"

By this time, George was letting it try to get away but (as cats do) he kept catching it with the swipe of an arm. The critter kept crying out every time George caught him. Rocko and I went over to see the bunny. Rocko was pretty interested and started snuffling around it. It was still breathing at that point, and I told Rocko to leave it alone. Then he started protecting it from George. I went in the house for a moment, and while inside I heard the bunny cry out one last time. "George got it back," I thought.

When I got back out, Rocko was sniffing at and licking it and it was apparently dead. No respiration; no reaction when I blew at its eye. I figure that the final cry was when Rocko picked it up and gave it a good shake. This was a relief, really. George would have tormented it for a lot longer.

It was quickly apparent that Rocko was going to eat this baby bunny no matter where I threw it, so I figured the best thing to do would be to give him his breakfast first and then let him at it, so he could eat it fresh but he wouldn't have raw bunny on an empty stomach.

I called out "time for breakfast," and both of the boys came in, leaving the bunny in the yard. After they ate I let them back out. Rocko went straight to the bunny and started snuffling at and licking on it. I told him I wasn't staying to watch. "Do what you will. I'm going in." George stayed to watch. I think he's hurt that he didn't get to eat any. Rocko finished it and now it's gone, fuzz, fur and guts.

I figure that the little critter's mother was probably picked off by a raptor during the night, and it just hunkered down there until George found it. A young rabbit alone like that just ain't right.

And then the sun rose higher in the sky and life went on, the lilac and trillium and thornapple bloomed and Jack stood in his Pulpit in the gully among the ferns. We all took a walk and now they're napping and I'm going to join them.

No cartoon wabbits were harmed in the production of this documentary. I can't say the same about the real rabbit,

If you find all of this quite shocking, welcome to the world of your pets. Yours would do the same given the chance. They are animals.

I didn't see this as a great problem because somebody was going to kill and eat that bunny, be it fox, owl or dog. George and Rocko had a rare treat. How often are they going to have a chance to maul and eat a decent sized prey animal? I'm not worried about them making a habit out of eating rabbits.

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