We've had quite the influx of mice lately. They prefer the warmth of our house to the icy outdoors as winter approaches. For the most part, we have a warm-and-fuzzy, bleeding-heart liberal approach to mice. While we do NOT want them in our house (good luck keeping mice out of a draughty century-home surrounded by grain-filled fields!), neither do we want to use sticky- or snap-traps. Poison is out too. I don't want it in my house, for starters, and the last thing I want to see is a cat ingesting a dying, poisoned mouse. My crusty farmer friend Eugene mocks me for all of this, but not quite as much as he mocks me for bathing and blow-drying poultry in the house!
Anyway, as an alternative we use a "Tin Cat" mouse trap, which is great because it catches several mice at a time without gore or death. Every morning, Gordon gathers up the trap and drives the inmates a few kilometres down the road, depositing them near a nice stand of trees (but not near anyone else's farmhouse!), where they no doubt survive for three seconds before being eaten by an owl, a hawk, roving barn cat or any number of wild creatures with a taste for rodent. But at least this way the blood isn't on our hands, and we can live with our fantasy about cute little mice living cozily in a tree stump in the forest, sipping little cups of mousy tea and reading scary kitty-cat bedtime stories to their children.
Back when Gordon was still working in Ottawa, he would take the mice with him as he left for work in the morning. Occasionally he would completely forget about the trap, and the mice would get a nice day trip to Ottawa and back! Once, Gordon remembered them just as he arrived at the parking garage in his office building. He decided it would be okay to release his furry prisoners anyway, and he sidled up to a nearby high-rise condo building. Deciding that the manicured courtyard would be the perfect place for the furry freeloaders to set up residence, Gordon casually flipped the top on the trap. Out leapt the mice, promptly disappearing. What Gordon didn't consider was the fact that he was surrounded by tall buildings. I often wonder how many bored government workers looked down that morning and wondered just what the hell the bearded man in the raincoat was doing down there with a tin box!
Which brings us to the present day. This seems to be a banner fall for mice taking up residence inside, and cats have been waking us up at night as they chase squeaking victims up and down the stairs and all around the house. Alex had a uniquely noisy three-legged gait. Once I woke up to find blood smears all over the downstairs bathroom floor and baseboards, but no sign of an injured or deceased animal. We'll never quite know what happened in there in the dark of night, but Julius wasn't particularly hungry for breakfast that morning.
Our overfed cats have moments of exquisite USELESSNESS when mousing. Naomi's favourite trick is to catch a mouse upstairs, carry it down to the kitchen, drop it, and watch it run under the stove...
Then one, two or three cats will spend an hour watching intently. Amazingly, the mouse is often stupid enough to run right into the thicket of cats.
"I can see it! Can you see it, Alex?"
Despite having only three legs, Alex is a proficient killing machine when he feels so inclined.
"How long do you want to wait, Alex?"
"I dunno, Naomi. Kibble is easier!"
Meanwhile, up in the bathroom (walls stripped, waiting for plasterer, and I dream of a new floor and a husband who remembers to close toilet seats so dogs don't drink out of the bowl)...
The orange cat is staring intently while his cohort get restless. Is he looking at the bird magazine?
Despite a long period of intense staring, Julius (who used to kill mice instantly with a whap of his paw) just sat and watched as Naomi predictably caught the mouse, ran past me, and deposited it...
...in the kitchen. Where, you guessed it, the mouse ran under the stove. Occasionally they spice things up and run under the fridge too.
I've written about mice a LOT on this blog. There was the time three cats cornered a mouse on a lamp. And who can forget the lazy-ass cats who can't be bothered to do their job? There were gifts left for me on the family-room floor. And just last weekend, Gordon found this in the basement as we were cleaning up the firewood-storage area:
Yep, that's a mouse skeleton. Interestingly, the skull is missing, which perhaps can be explained by my discovery, some time ago, of a severed mouse head laid carefully in front of my washing machine.
It's going to be a long winter.