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Eek! A mouse. August 20, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in critters, homesteading, pets, Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. It is a truth universally acknowledged that all cats, however cute and cuddly they may seem, are, in their heart of hearts, ruthless predators. And that all cat owners, however tenderhearted, had better acknowledge this up front for the sake of their ongoing cardiac fitness.

Indoor cats may content themselves with killing cat toys. Or they may turn to those evil alien invaders, aka bugs, and make it their duty to stop them before they take over. Outdoor cats’ choices are typically broader: shrews, moles, voles, songbirds, and chipmunks, as well as the aforementioned bugs and any fish they can nab in your water garden or stream. And if, like our unfortunate friends Carolyn and Gary, you’ve thoughtfully installed a cat door so your little precious can go in and out at will, you may be confronted with the very-much-alive-and-now-loose-in-the-house results of your cat’s hunting skills at regular intervals.

But today, my topic is mice. Specifically, mice in the house. it seems like every cat has a unique way of dealing with mice, and if, like us, you live in the country, you have plenty of chances to see all these variations in action. We’ve found livers and spleens on our door mat. We’ve seen mice killed but left whole in situ for our admiration. We’ve found decapitated mice, either the head or the rest, depending on the cat.

Our all-time favorite mouser was our huge, gorgeous Maine coon, Diamondridge Seamus Beaumaine. Seamus was a no-fuss, no-muss mouser. If he discovered a mouse, he’d scoop it up in one huge paw, toss it down the hatch, and that was that. Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.

Our most problematic mouser was our senior cat, Tawillow’s Jessie Beaumaine. Jessie knew that her duty was to rid the household of all mice. And she was very good at catching them. But unfortunately, once she’d caught one, she thought it was our responsibility to take it from there. She would roam through the house, a live, uninjured mouse in her mouth, making a distinctive noise that I think of as the “broken cat noise.” And this could go on. And on.

I finally worked out a system for dealing with Jessie: When I heard the broken cat noise—inevitably around 2 a.m.—I’d haul myself out of bed, put on the fireplace gloves, and unlock the front door. Jessie would obediently trot up and drop the mouse on the doormat. It was then my responsibility to scoop up the mouse in the glove before it could get away and toss it out the front door.

Now, nobody likes being awakened in the dead of night by the announcement that there’s a live mouse in your cat’s mouth and you’d better do something about it pronto. But really, the system worked pretty well. Until the night that I didn’t wake up to the siren call. (And of course, our friend Ben just had to be away that night.)  Jessie was outraged that her heroic efforts were being ignored. So she did what any self-respecting cat would do, which is to say, jumped up on our high bed with the mouse in her mouth to show me her accomplishment.

Unfortunately, the effort of jumping that high and holding onto the mouse simultaneously proved too much: Jessie dropped the mouse, which proceeded to flee across my bare arm. As noted, I was sleeping at the time. As a result, I’m down to two of my original nine lives, and the neighbors probably assumed from my screams that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was being reenacted here at Hawk’s Haven.

Our current bunch of cats strike me as losers in the mouse-catching category. The present feline matriarch, Tawillow’s Athena Beaumaine, will disdainfully watch mouse-hunting but declines to participate. And our siblings, Linus and Layla, are so inept they give cats a bad name. However, something has been catching mice around here and leaving them for the unsuspecting yours truly to encounter.

One reason I’m unsuspecting is that mice out here in the country usually have plenty to eat outdoors until winter, so we don’t typically see them inside until snow and ice have decimated their usual food sources and sent them running for food and warmth. But this year, the drought has been so bad all summer and part of the spring that their food supply may have literally dried up.

The other reason I’m unsuspecting is that a dead mouse—at least, a dead mouse in this latest incarnation—looks remarkably like any of the numerous dog toys strewn across the floor, especially when it’s not really light out yet and your synapses don’t even start firing until 10 a.m. Both times I’ve discovered one, I’ve bent over to pick it up, thinking it was yet another wad of string pulled from a rope toy by our black German shepherd, Shiloh, aka The Toyminator.

Let me just note that coming within an inch of touching a dead mouse with your bare hand is not a good way to start the day. And these were not just any dead mice. They looked like they’d been stretched on the rack, then rolled through a press: sort of the mouse equivalent of a candy bar. What the bleep?!

As Sherlock Holmes observed, when you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. In this case, I think our latest mouser is a dog, especially given the proximity of each “mouse bar” to a pile of dog toys.

Well, whatever works. But I’m telling you, Shiloh, if the day dawns when I actually do touch one of those flattened carcasses, you’d better watch out for your own carcass. After all, I’m down to my last two lives.

                 ‘Til next time,

                                 Silence

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Comments»

1. Middle Man - August 20, 2010

Really nice post and one that I can truly empathise with. you may enjoy this:

http://caughtinthemiddleman.wordpress.com/2007/05/30/my-family-and-other-animals-part-5/

Mercy, Middle Man, what a story! I’m not sure my cardiac fitness would have been up to that!

2. CChinese Gordon - August 20, 2010

Mouseys left to pick up?? The late cat and protector around here, who once chased a po-lees dog (130lb Rottweiler) out of the house, was left alone to guard (and harass) while I was away. But he did have a nice gift for me when I returned, right under the bed. A dead possum, half-again his size and dead for quite a while. And it really really stink stank stunk/ And he was SOOOO proud.

Oh my God! The joys of roadkill in one’s own home! Too bad he didn’t let a vulture in there, too, to finish it off…

3. Elephant's Eye - August 20, 2010

Once, when the Ungardener was away, and the cat was allowed to sleep on the bed … Aragon woke me devouring a mouse a few inches from my ear. NOT a noise I want to wake up to ;>((

Eeeewwww!!! I guess she liked the concept of breakfast in bed…


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