Catch & Release

Christy Nichols
6 min readMay 12

Listen to the audio:

It started with the discovery of a flurry of feathers. The fluffy grey tufts were so small, no bigger than dimes, and tossed throughout my bedroom floor like deflated party balloons long abandoned after a party.

Moths, geckos, and grasshoppers had thankfully been my only gifts from Tino these last couple of years. I don’t take these spoils away from her immediately, but rather, I try to be a good cat mom, praising her hunter skills and recognizing her gift-giving nature.

However, if there’s a moment of possible escape for her prey, I try to save each little life, reptilian or powder-winged, even if it means a paw slap and a sour emerald stink-eye from my pretty little cat when I do.

But the feathers.

This was next-level horror. Eventually, I found the remains of the poor thing. Battered, but not bloody, and definitely dead lying limp in the back of my closet. She’d killed it while I was away, a detail of the scene that brought up mixed emotions for me.

On the one hand, I was proud of Tino. She’d been hunting the ground-grazing birds for months, eyeing them from my porch, then stalking tiger-like through the grass, her black and white spotted fur not at all camouflaged on the straight, bright green grass. Every single bird saw her coming, no matter how low she crouched.

I was also kind of touched. Her first bird kill she’d brought to me, gifted and tucked away in my room. What a treasure. I felt important! She really loved me!

Guilt also accompanied this discovery because I hadn’t been home for the initial showcasing of her lifeless trophy. Kind of like how parents must feel if they miss their kid’s ballgame, and their kid hits a home run. I felt bad I wasn’t there to shower Tino with praise and affection for her triumph.

But the bird. The poor little thing. I scooped it up in a paper towel and eyed its delicate features. So much intricate detail in its grey coloring, spackled and lined in blacks and whites. Even if its eyes were vacant, the feathering around its tiny head and beak was mesmerizing. Its fragile bones and wings, so light.

Christy Nichols

Educator, business owner, writer, do-gooder (mostly), trouble-maker (sometimes). Life Coach, Book Coach, Nicaragua Retreats hosted by