Among the mysteries considered by Sherlock Holmes there is one about a cat owner that I particularly relate to.
I have to say "considered" in the case of "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger," because Sherlock Holmes doesn't really solve it. He just hears the confession of someone who was an accomplice to a murder years before, and suffering a horrible punishment from that act ever since. Or maybe not from the murder itself . . . but from the fact that she was a cat owner.
True, the cat belonging to Eugenia Ronder was of the "big" variety, technically being a lion and all, but her kitty, Sahara King, seemed to have a certain quality that is very noticeably present in the feline that dwells in my own house, a fully-clawed male specimen named "Tink." And that quality is an unpredictable wildness.
"And why should it attack them savagely when it was in the habit of playing with them?" Sherlock Holmes poses the question to Watson before they go to hear the full story of Sahara King's apparent turning on his owners. From that statement, I would definitely conclude that Sherlock Holmes has never owned a cat.
Because cats like to play. Oh, yes, they like to play. With their victims.
Our size is really our only defense against household felines, as much as we might think they love us. Having adopted a roaming outdoor cat who enjoys the comforts of central heating in the winter, we know what happens when the usual hunting habits get interrupted by snow and ice. Eventually our friend Tink gets bored. And at some point, nothing else will satisfy him but stalking prey . . . even if that prey is six-two and weighs two hundred pounds.
The inevitable end of his hunt, with all four claws holding a limb in place while his jaws chomp down on a leg or arm, is quickly over-powered, but come spring, our local version of Sahara King finds prey whose heads he can fit in his mouth, just like Sahara King did to Mrs. Ronder, and very bad things happen.
Now, you might want to step away from this blog post if you're a fan of cute kitties and/or don't like much gruesome in your Sherlockian reading. Because you probably aren't going to like the part that comes next . . . .
Okay. Just the stout-of-heart still here?
Come spring, we start finding critters without heads on our porch. Cute little furry critters, too, except for the "dead with no heads" part. I kept envisioning our cat having a secret lair somewhere with skulls lined up in his trophy room, because they certainly weren't showing up anywhere we could ever see. It was a real mystery for Sherlock Holmes . . . or Google, which we finally turned to after catching him in the act one morning.
Apparently -- and this is the part you're going to wish you left for, if you ignored my earlier warnings -- even well-fed house cats love the particularly special flavor of brains. Yes, just like zombies. And given all the other similarities between small cat and big cats, I can't help but think if Eugenia Ronder had not been rescued by her fellow circus-folk, she might have met the same fate as the critters on our porch. And Sahara King would have had a special treat that night.
Ew, gross, I know, right? The study of Sherlock Holmes is not all kings in silk masks and pretty opera singers, you know. And the climax of "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" is right out of a horror movie in any case, as Mrs. Ronder steps into the light and pulls away her veil.
So far we're managing to deal with our household version of Sahara King without having to resort to veils, and his teeny-tiny mouth is probably going to keep us from that eventuality. But when all is said and done, cats are cats.
Be careful out there.