It seemed to come to a head one afternoon when I couldn’t locate him for dinner. I was able to track him into the woods by the loud complaints of screaming birds. There he was in the middle of a small clearing hissing and sputtering away as the birds comfortably hurled their birdy insults at him. I gathered him up and took him home for dinner, for once, he was quiet about being picked up.
Clancy was not interested in hunting birds; he liked big game animals, chipmunks, squirrels, dogs, and the wayward human. He did have a high internal sense of honor. Insult him once, and you had an enemy for life. Being he took offense quickly, he had a long list of enemies. To this list, he now added the neighborhood birds.
He abided. Fall came, and we took the first frost of the year early.
One morning I was in the shop and noticed Clancy paying even more attention to the birds than usual. I had the wood stove running to drive off the chill, and loving his creature comforts; I expected to see him tucked into the large sofa cushion that was his special place. But, no, he was just outside the shop with his tail lashing back and forth.
The frost touched the berries on the mountain ash tree and had set them to ferment. A number of the local birds were below the tree behaving drunk. They staggered and stumbled; other birds seemed to think this behavior was hilarious. For Clancy, it was nothing less the magical delivery of enemies into his paws.
Slowly he stalked out of the shop, belly flat to the ground—ears laid back, tail lashing sinuously back and forth. Revenge is mine saith the cat! Then the unexpected. A very drunk bird spots him and starts counter stalking the cat. Soon three or four birds are weaving back and forth, stalking the cat back towards the shop. Soon Clancy sees that he no longer the hunter, but is now the hunted. His sinuous stalk becomes a panicked retreat, and he slams into the shop’s screen door as he tries to get away from the nutso birds that have determined to get a bit of cat for an after cocktail snack. He dives under the workbench. It’s a few hours before I can lure him out.
We are cautious not to tease him about this. Such things do not happen to large game hunting cats.