Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mouse 1, Cats 0

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?




NOPE.



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.


17 comments:

  1. Who says country life is boring?
    Your blog made me laugh and remember some of my own close encounters with the furry little beasts.

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  2. Yup, it all sounds so darn familiar. I usually see Cookie tearing through the house with a poor soul clinging to her lips for dear life. The half-dead critter is deposited in my bedroom and then my three lovelies spend the rest of their time pawing at the limping beast until it keels over, likely from a heart attack!

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  3. The mice have obviously heard about you and Gordon! I totally agree with you about the traps and poison. We use an electronic device which emits a signal which they can't stand; the only trouble is that you have to be rodent-free to set it up, otherwise they can adapt to it.

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  4. Our furry freeloaders don't bother catching mice. Robyn has an excuse as he's 17 and in the past he would despatch rats and take on magpies (he brought one in once!)

    Actually it is only girl-cat Bebe, the former feral, who still catches and despatches them. Girl Power, I suppose!

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  5. "... a severed mouse head laid carefully in front of my washing machine."

    Maybe it was the cat mafia? Maybe Don Julius the Catfather is displeased?

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  6. What a great post! I've loved all the cat and mouse antics and reading about the older episodes too. I could never catch a mouse with my bare hands like you (or gloved hands for that matter).

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  7. Jenny, I don't think I can ever say country life is boring! And there sure is a lot of sex and death on the farm! :)

    Ronna, I hate it when the cats gang up and torture 'em to death! But they sure have fun, don't they?

    PTL, your device sounds great although I think this house has had a significant mouse colony for a hundred years... :)

    Jams, I would say Naomi is the best mouser but I wish she would just kill them, not drop them and toy with them. I've heard girls are the best mousers. Go Bebe!

    Ahab, entire possible. Don Julius has strong opinions and isn't afraid to express them! :)

    LBM, it is stupid to catch a mouse with your bare hands. Don't be stupid like me. :))) I'm amazed I haven't caught a mouse disease yet...

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  8. I have 4 cats and not one of them can be bothered long enough to go mousing...The last time we had a mouse in the house my husband had to go seek it out and dispose of it in a field down the street. So I guess my husband is a mouser...We don't use traps either. This was an awesome post ;o)

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  9. Best post EVER!
    I wish I had mice in my place - the cats might get more exercise!

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  10. Great post. It brought up lots of memories of cat and mice antics. Peter and I had a lazy cat who we locked in a closet once so she would do her job and kill a mouse that was hiding in there. She finally did, but took her time about it. Sounds like your cats are much more diligent.

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  11. Boy, what would you do without Gordon? Saving his damsel in distress! How gallant!
    The cats are probably wondering: are these mice organic? Should we eat them mummy or simply torture them???
    I thought of mice in the Beatrix Potter tradition until I saw one in my appartement a few years back. I, typical city girl, shrieked....and called the Super.

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  12. Isn't it amazing how long a cat can sit absolutely statue-like while waiting for the mouse to make a move? It's so Zen!

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  13. What?! No mouse spa?

    I'm sure all those little mousies are enjoying mouse tea and a nice little fire in a tree stump. I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere.

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  14. We always have exactly the same mouse issues as you, Nat. We use humane traps, but they only hold 1 mouse at a time. And take them out into the woods to release them. And the cats LOVE to hunt mice. Recently, Shadow brought us a mouse in bed in the middle of the night. The mouse was screaming, Shadow jumps up into the middle of our bed at let it go! She gave us her gift, how sweet!!! oh course I screamed and turned on the light, mouse and cat both went running, and Randy slept thru the whole ordeal!
    ~Lynn

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  15. Jennifer, I think our cats are all too well-fed!!!

    Wandering Cat, I've got lots. I could Fedex you some. ;)

    Evlyn, I dunno. I think I might have lock up some of our cats in a closet with the mice!! I'm unimpressed with their kill rate. LOL

    Elisabeth, I'd starve to death without Gordon, among other things. ;)

    Fran, they are the picture of patience at times. Except first thing in the morning when they want breakfast!

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  16. Jennifer, I think our cats are all too well-fed!!!

    Wandering Cat, I've got lots. I could Fedex you some. ;)

    Evlyn, I dunno. I think I might have lock up some of our cats in a closet with the mice!! I'm unimpressed with their kill rate. LOL

    Elisabeth, I'd starve to death without Gordon, among other things. ;)

    Fran, they are the picture of patience at times. Except first thing in the morning when they want breakfast!

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  17. Cog Dis, I draw the line at spas for rodents!!! I would, however, consider a lagomorph spa.

    Lynn, I really hope the cats don't bring me a bedtime mouse present!!! And it's comforting to know I'm not the only one out there running a mouse charity. ;)

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Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!