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Two Little Kittens and the Big, Bad Rat: Nature's Universal Lessons Further Revealed

Jan 30, 2008
We do have rats at the jungle ranch. Some are big and some are small. After all, it is a ranch and it is the jungle. Most of the rats are small and could be technically called field mice; since they are small and come from the 'fields' where they live. In other words, they don't live in our palapa; they just come to visit, eat our food and make holes in our clothes.

Needless to say the wife isn't thrilled with these critters. We laugh that since these rats eat onions, tomatoes and even hot chili peppers, we should call them 'Mexican rats'. Although sometimes she doesn't see the humor in that either.

So when we went back to civilization in Bacalar, the first thing she did was go to a hardware store and buy a mousetrap. This wasn't just any mouse trap; it was the jumbo, heavy duty, reinforced, last forever type. And as the hardware clerk so articulately told us, it's designed to catch big ones and small ones and all sizes in between. We had seen our invaders and knew they were an assortment of sizes. None of this wimpy capture them alive and release elsewhere stuff either...this trap was meant to do one thing and one thing only.

The first night nothing. Then at about 2:00 AM on the second night, we heard a loud snap and knew we had trapped our prey. We jumped up and grabbed our flashlights. To our dismay, the rat was not in the trap but several feet away and still moving. It was a big one. I took the ax and smashed its head to make sure the damage was done. No more sweet pastries for this guy.

I took the rat and threw it out in the backyard knowing that shortly nature would take its course and the ants and bugs and other critters would quickly dispose of the carcass, sort of like a critter's Thanksgiving.

That same morning our Maya friend Poot came by and we told him about the rat. It was a great big one, we laughed. He asked where it was and he went to see for himself. He quickly found it and came back holding it up by its tail. Poot is a jungle man and takes his jungle cues from the plants and animals; though I was a bit surprised he picked up the rat.

"It's a female," he said, "look at where it's babies nurse." Sure enough, it was a female. The wife looked away as she doesn't like this sort of thing and would soon start feeling sorry for the hungry little rat babies. Not me.

"Where are your kittens?" Poot asked. We called them and they came playfully running over toward us. He held up the rat and they immediately started growling and showing great interest.

Poot laid the rat strategically between them both and they went at it. For five minutes they played tug of war while we laughed and thought it great fun. Fun for us, but something more for the kittens. Poot explained.

"If a kitten doesn't taste rat meat or learn about rats when it's small, it won't learn at all," he stated. I've learned to pay great attention to what jungle man Poot says because he has a very different perspective on plants and animals and the environment in general. And besides he's always right.

"It's sad to see a cat that doesn't go after rats," he continued, "that's what cats do. It's their nature. If they don't learn when young, they will never learn and what's the use of a cat that doesn't keep your palapa free from rats?" As usual, Poot had a good point.

He went on to explain how a good cat will crawl up into a thatched roof and actually hunt the critters there. Once the cat kills enough rats, the rats somehow get the message and stop coming for nightly visits or even daily visits for that matter. A good cat always beats a good mouse trap.

Later that day I pondered on Poot's animal wisdom and wondered if his kitten and mouse lesson had other parallels, specifically human ones.

If humans don't learn life's lessons at a young or tender age, then they too miss out. I immediately thought of all the spoiled kids that live back in Northern California and how many end up goofy and maladjusted. The truth is their parents did not give them the rat equivalent as they were growing up; instead, they got some sort of watered down substitute that left them confused, frustrated and often angry. What they really needed was a good rat.

The analogy is admittedly simplistic and not all rat deprived kittens grow up to be maladjusted and angry cats. But most do and Poot made a very good point.

So the next time you decide to 'help' your child by sheltering them from the hard and cruel world, think again. Think of the kittens and the rat and how the cat can't realize its Buddha nature unless it learns to hunt and eat rats.

Our jungle man Poot says it's what cats are supposed to do and he's usually right.
About the Author
Jack Deal writes promotional articles and lives part time on a jungle ranch in Mexico. Related articles may be found at http://www.jddeal.com/blog and http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
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