The first rabbit I knew at close quarters was dead. I was sitting in bed in a cold cottage in the middle of nowhere eating my dinner from a tray when it arrived. My two cats and I had come from London to wildest Galloway. I was a city girl and for numberless generations their ancestors had been city cats. But we'd all taken to the country. They had leapt out of the kitchen window and brought back a stream of wildlife. I could identify shrews, voles and mice in no time. The rabbit was a first though and Thomas was clearly very proud. The aristocratic Saul was too cosy on the duvet to take more than a languid interest but I was riveted. I watched as Thomas re-enacted the kill. The rabbit was hurled up and down the bedroom while he raced in pursuit. As his excitement grew, his aim diminished and eventually the rabbit got stuck behind a radiator. Horror ! Panic ! Within seconds he was on his back scrabbling like mad. Phew ! After a struggle he got it out. There he lay with the corpse between his paws licking its fur and trilling joyously. At that point I lost interest. The second rabbit was very much alive. By this time Saul, Thomas and I were living in Fife. I was doing an OU course and was late with my assignment. Looking up from my work I saw the cats beside a carrier bag and wondered why they were staring at it so intently. I picked the bag up and there, behind it, was a rabbit. A brief Tom and Jerry episode ensued. The rabbit evaded all three of us and took refuge behind the fridge. At the time what I did seemed sane. Moving the fridge meant moving other stuff. All heavy. And I was busy. Rabbits could be tempted out. I cut up some carrots and put the dish in the middle of the room. Went back to my assignment. Got completely engrossed and forgot the whole thing. A long time later I looked up. Both cats were sprawled like sultans on the sofa. A few feet away the rabbit was tucking in to its carrot dinner. That's when I realised the flaw in my plan to sneak up and catch it. Rabbits eyes are so placed that they cannot be snuck up on. In no time it was back in its hidey hole behind the fridge. After cat removal and furniture removal, I caught the damned beast and released it unharmed to the wild. My assignment got finished, the carrots got binned and the rabbit had a story to tell. The third rabbit arrived in the dead of night. By this time I lived in Falkland and had different cats. One minute I was blissfully sleeping. The next I was standing upright beside the bed feeling like the bride of Dracula. Who or what had produced that blood curdling scream ? Whatever it was, it was in the room. I switched on the light expecting to see Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" mode. All I could see was my ginger Tom, GP, howking frantically under the wardrobe. I got down on my knees and looked. A pair of terrified eyes looked back. GP was slung unceremoniously into the spare room. I put on my wildlife catching gloves and did some howking myself. Eventually the rabbit was dragged kicking but not thankfully screaming from it's sanctuary. There was no blood. All it's parts were moving as they should. I put on my clogs and, at three in the morning, in my nightie, crossed the road and stumbled down Andy's back garden to return the lucky survivor to the field from which it had probably come. GP learned his lesson. I never saw another rabbit after that. Only, in the mornings, I sometimes found a small tuft of fur on the floor. And GP stretched out on the sofa four paws in the air. Digesting.
Reliving the chase, As rabbits run through his mind the dozing paws twitch.