‘Nature, red in tooth and claw?’ The sharing of gifts from Anubis

Anubis, the cat who allows us to share space with him, is a mighty hunter. And climber. The combination of these two traits leads to some interesting encounters in the early hours of the morning.

Let me explain.

Anubis is many things, but above all, he is a creature of the night. We probably should have named him Nosferatu, but Anubis suits this small tabby cat. I thought that Anubis, the name of the Egyptian god of the dead, was an odd choice for Lucy to name her cat, but it turns out to have been entirely fitting.

Anubis spends most of the day sleeping and goes out to prowl in the late afternoon. In the winter, he comes in by 10 or 11 p.m. because he doesn’t like to sleep outside in the cold. In the winter he enters the house the same way that we do, via the back door. In the spring and summer, he prefers a different doorway: a climbable one.

He scrambles up the crab apple tree next to the back porch, jumps from it onto the porch roof, and then comes to the window on the second floor landing and requests entry.

His request is an oral one – he yowls and meows until someone lets him in. This is fine when I am in my office, writing. It is not fine when he has been out all night hunting and decides he that wants in at 4 a.m. If it is 4 a.m. and no one hears him at first, he will get loud. If it is raining, he will make himself heard over the sound of the rain. And if no one comes in what Anubis considers to be a reasonable amount of time, he will grab the window screen with his claws and shake the screen.

He did that one morning a couple of weeks ago until I woke up. I could not figure out what I was hearing at first, until I walked down the hall and Anubis saw me. The yowls became ear piercing. I unlocked the window, let him in and walked him downstairs to the dining room, where I made sure his food and water bowls were full. Fortunately, we managed not to wake up Rilian, asleep in the kitchen. Then I tiptoed back upstairs and managed to get a couple more hours of sleep.

But it is not always so easy. One dawn, I woke up to use the bathroom, and Anubis saw me and ran to the window. I went to let him in and noticed (even in my early-morning state of non-alertness) that the cat had something in his mouth. Something long and wiggling.

I shook my head ‘No.’ Anubis grabbed the screen and shook it. I put the window back down and locked it. I went back to bed and put the blanket over my head. When I got up a couple of hours later, Anubis was curled up on the roof, sleeping. When I came out of the shower, he looked up and came to the window. Since there was nothing in his mouth, I let him in.

I am not the only one he torments this way. Lucy went to let him in one afternoon, when she heard him from her room, only to discover he had a bird in his mouth. She wouldn’t let him in until he dropped it.

But I realize that Anubis is not tormenting us at all: he is sharing his gifts. I frequently find offerings from Anubis next to my car. A tail of something. A tiny little paw. Who was it who said, “Nature, red in tooth and claw”? Tennyson? Well, whoever it was, it is clear they shared space with a cat.

June Lemen is a freelance writer from Nashua. Her column appears the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Email her at june@junelemen.com.