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Killing Cats

There was a boy down my road who used to kill cats. His family had lots of cats and whenever one brought a bird into the house or started mewling in the middle of the night or did one of a hundred things that cats do because they're cats then his father would bring his hammer out of the tool shed and whack the cat with it until it was dead. Everyone knew he whacked cats with a hammer but nobody reported him because nobody wanted the hassle. Then one day his son got the hammer out and whacked his neighbour's cat on the head. The first I knew of it was when I came down the street and the police were dragging the father off to the station. The son was sitting on the kerb crying. Nobody seemed to be taking any notice of him. I sat down next to him and asked him if he was upset about the cats. No, he said. He didn't care about the cats. He was just upset about the unfairness of it all. A cat was just a cat. They'd been killing their cats for years. Why did it make so much of a difference when the cat belonged to somebody else? Eventually the boy was sent away to get treatment and the father was fined and not allowed to keep cats. I got one of them and still have it. But I look at my cat and I wonder why calling it mine makes any difference. A cat is still a cat, isn't it?

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