I have pets that require I keep an army of feeder crickets on hand at all times. While watching my cat literally torture an escapee, thoughts of the nature of prey enter my mind like a puck off the stick of Mark Scheifele might enter the opposing team’s net. This cat is by no means starving. She’s most likely not even hungry. Proof of that is in the torture of the cricket, and not the eating.
She’s been playing with this bug now for the past five minutes. She’ll paw at it, puncturing the exoskeleton, and then pick it up in her mouth crushing it a bit. But anyone who’s ever owned reptile can attest to the toughness of the cricket. Her plaything escapes death for a while, until she decides she’s bored with it, and devours her prey.
There’s nothing strange about this, of course, unless you really think about it. We like to think about animals being purely instinctual and driven by need. But my cat, Static, is not hungry when she torments her prey; she is not driven by need. She is entertaining herself in a twisted way by inflicting pain on an inferior species. She’s driven by want.
This is actually quit disturbing, if put into perspective properly. For example, my dragons are predators too, who also prey on crickets. They are pretty nasty when they feed. But the extent of their hunting is purely need driven.
I have a python, too. Not a top predator in its natural habitat, however, their cousins can rise to the top of the food chain in other ecosystems that weren’t meant to handle them, like what’s happening in Florida. My python will savagely attack its pre-killed prey as if its heart still beats beneath its tiny rib cage by striking at it with lightning speed, and then slowly squeezing the life (well, technically the life is already gone from the rat, but don’t tell the snake that…) out of it before consuming it whole. It’s actually a horrific sight that inspires an adrenaline rush even after a few times witnessing.
The cat is a top predator in the wild (not in the house, mind you), and maybe that’s why Static will play with and torture her prey like a sadist. Perhaps, these other predators need to get the job done as quickly as possible in order to return to their hiding place, so to not suffer the same fate.
The reason why this is so disturbing is two-fold. First, when humans do this to other humans we put them in a box for the rest of their lives (in certain cases, we put them in a doctors office for a few years before unleashing them back into society). Second, the entertainment I get from watching her torture the lower form of life is worrisome. Not in the way that I’m actually worried about the state of my mental health, but worrisome in the way that humanity simply has a twisted, dark side to it.
In hockey, there are teams that are predators, top predators and there are prey teams. The Winnipeg Jets haven’t been a prey team this season, but they also haven’t been a top predator team, either. But they’re close. In the last few weeks they’ve beat San Jose and LA: two teams in the hunt for a playoff position. One might even go so far as to say that the Jets were responsible for ending the hunt for the Sharks. They’ve also beat teams like the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and the Tampa Bay Lightning; all teams that could be described as top predators in the NHL.
The reason why the Jets haven’t yet achieved the status of top predator in the league is because like the dragons, they want to kill and eat their prey as quickly as possible to try to survive an attack from a top predator. They don’t have the prowess, yet, to play with their prey and torture and kill them slowly by inflicting a series of painful, but non-fatal blows. In this scenario, the world the top predator lives in, it’s the build up of pain that kills the prey. Eventually, the body gives up its will to live. The pain becomes so intense that the mind recoils and decides that death, the very thing instinct is around to prevent, becomes a welcomed friend.
Once the Jets get that kind of killer instinct they will win the Stanley Cup. Until then, they will just be one of the predators fighting it out in the arena like ancient gladiators among captured tigers.