Cat and Mouse

Woke up around 3am. Warm, snoring dog lump against my back as expected but the heavy cat lump between my feet was missing. Briefly considered going back to sleep, but i realized i hadn’t seen my cat, Huey Newton before bedtime. Fearing that he was trapped in a closet, or worse, i got up to investigate his usual spots in the bedroom.

He was in the living room, riveted by something behind my guitar. Gradually waking up, i thought he had cornered a bigass spider… He was focused like a laser, so I turned on a light. Preparing myself for the worst, i jostled the guitar to see what he was watching.

Oh, it was big alright! Huge for a spider, but small for a mouse… a tiny mouse. He tore out from under the guitar, under the Christmas tree, with Huey in hot pursuit. Huey was playing with him, not eating him. Batting at him, keeping him in play. No sanctuary, preventing him from going under furniture.

Fully awake, i realized i needed to do… something… but not sure what. Huey continued to move the little mouse from place to place, but he had nowhere to go. He cornered the mouse by the fireplace. i grabbed a cardboard box, trying to work with Huey to chase him into the box. Fail. They both scooted back to the middle of the room… and downstairs.

Shaking off the last remnants of sleep, i followed downstairs. Huey was lying casually on his side by the billiards table, keeping the exhausted mouse in front of him. i put down the box and Huey made a move, driving the mouse into relative safety.

Cute little thing. Tiny. Not moving, but still breathing, apparently worn out from extended battle. Now what to do with him at 0300? It was really cold out, our first night of sub-zero temperatures. Seemed heartless to put him outside, but i couldn’t keep him. Thought about putting him in the garage, but remembered my mouse troubles from last year… A small rodent drove me nuts all winter.  Why invite trouble?

Not knowing what else to do, i took the box out the front door, shook the little mouse gently into the bushes, thinking he could burrow down near the brick wall for warmth. He was so tiny, he just landed on top of the shrub. And didn’t move.

It was freezing. i was barefoot, and wearing nothing but a bra and shorts. Went back inside. Felt rotten. The little thing had just spent hours being terrorized by a cat, and was now going to freeze to death.

i checked this morning and he was gone. Didn’t root around in the bush looking for a corpse, allowing myself the delusion that he was ok. Somewhere. Burrowed into the mulch, weathering the cold night. Perhaps to enter the house again, in his limbic-driven need for food and warmth. Or to find safe harbor elsewhere, surviving the winter to grow and breed and make many happy mousebabies in the spring.

It’s just a mouse. An unwelcome pest intruding into my territory. Had it been a spider, i’d have had no concerns – encouraging my cat to play with it, torture it, and ultimately kill it, leaving the corpse as a warning to others.

Selective compassion – based upon what criteria? Cuteness? Number of legs? Difficulty disposing of the body? Perceived threat?

How do we decide what lives and dies in our worlds?

Mr Mouse takes a tripimage found here

EPILOGUE

Another night with restless animals, this time, the dog decided to blow chunks somewhere around 4am.  i didn’t bother getting up to deal with it, knowing he’d ‘recycle’ most of it, and i could get out the portable shampooer (my beloved SpotBot) before leaving for work.  Which i did…

After tackling the biggest spots, i had extra cleaning solution in the reservoir, so i parked the SpotBot on a newer splotch halfway down the stairs.  It looked like it had once been a hairball, with some pieces of leaves thrown in for good measure.

Retrieving the ‘bot, i reached down to pick up a leaf stem.  Which wasn’t a leaf stem at all… It was the tail of a very small mouse.  Might have been the same critter from the night before, or a new intruder.  In any case, my cat ate this one.  And after reading Rob’s comment, and doing a bit more research via the Center for Disease Control?  i’m quite happy that it’s dead…

Turns out that  “Cute<<Threat”  in the presence of new data.

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36 thoughts on “Cat and Mouse

    • If it is a question of ‘me or it’? i’m certain my self-preservation instinct would prevail. Regardless of the “it”. A mouse is a nuisance. A spider is a nuisance. i just have a far darker history with spiders, having shared quarters with far too many during my early years… the human question is far tougher!

  1. Sorry, mice and other rodents get no quarter from me. I think he was lucky to be escorted out the door instead of assassinated by Huey. There will, sadly, always be more mice, spiders, bedbugs, and seemingly useless or dangerous mammals, including humans. I think it best to just remove them from polite society. Do not worry your pretty head about one mousie you escorted out where he belonged, they will make more.

    • Our old buddy kyknoord was known for kindness to spiders – despite a deep hatred of them. i am not so highly evolved. As for this particular mouse? i went looking more closely this evening after work. No mouse corpse. He either survived, or was eaten by something outside… and i’ll likely be seeing his genetic products over the next few years…

  2. I don’t like having to kill things, though it is sometimes necessary.And I certainly can’t just kill something for the “thrill” of it. Mind you, I consider a mosquito sucking MY blood is a justified kill!
    Back when we first kept bees, I was reviving some which had got caught in a water dish;had them cupped in my hands and was blowing gently on them to dry them…some missionaries came up the drive…they went back down the drive pretty damn’ quick!

  3. Now see, in my house spiders are quite welcome as I view them as the proper predator to deal with bug problems. If you have enough spiders, you won’t have a lot of cockroaches or other creepy crawlies. Mice, on the other hand, receive no quarter from me. If the cat doesn’t kill and eat them, I have no qualms about throwing the outside to freeze or not. I also have mouse traps which very completely kill any mouse caught thereby.

    I do live in the Ozarks, where “That guy needs killin'” is part of the vernacular. Sometimes I even feel that way, although I don’t ever act upon it.

    • Exactly my point – one woman’s devil is another woman’s angel! We tolerate that which has perceived benefits, or if we feel some degree of sympathy. Since you grow and store your own food? That spider has huge benefits, and there is great damage possible with the mice…

  4. I rescued a mouse from Jazz earlier this year. Holding it carefully in my cupped hands I headed down towards the compost bins. The ungrateful little beast bit me. Hard. I did however let the vampire mouse go safely. And came inside where Jazz exhibited real interest in the blood…

    • Ouch! i learned that lesson the hard way while rat-sitting for a friend years ago. Had to go to the doctor for that one… Surprised you didn’t give him a little ‘flight’ before release!

  5. This is all a wonderful metaphor for how the powerful selectively torment the disenfranchised. I’ve spent the past three weeks trying to register for benefits under the Affordable Care act–I’m one of the fortunates who are about to have their policy terminated–and I know how that tiny mouse feels. I know what it’s like inside that freezing cold bush. Sleep tight and warm, my lucky friend.

    If we don’t chat, have a merry Christmas and a happy new year. I’m Ohio bound right after the 25th. Have you seen the new casino in Cleveland? Just wondering…

    • Many metaphors in this one, dear sir! And yes, powerful cats/disenfranchised mice is a good one… hoping you were able to find a plan that works, and (in my imaginary universe) that is more affordable and provides better coverage. i want the ACA to work. WE NEED IT TO WORK. So very disappointed at the clusterfuck of the platform…

      Safe travels to Cleveland! i am not one for casinos, but i hear the new venues in Ohio are quite lovely, and are well equipped to take cash from people who are bad at math! i know your demon is the craps, and that you are responsible about it… but i have to repress screams when i see the old broads dumping hundreds of quarters into the bandits, while smoking their lungs to a fine crisp (vegas still has smoking areas of casinos!).

  6. Cute mice are usually deer mice. Big ears? Big eyes? Unfortunately, deer mice are generally the ones that carry hantavirus, a nasty little thing that. Since Huey wasn’t going to eat it, I’d have simply dispatched the thing, thrown it in the trash and been done with it. If you come across any mouse droppings, handle with care and don’t let any particulate become airborne (hantavirus infections originate through inhalation).

    • Nicely done, Rob! It was a deer mouse. Although there have been no reported cases of hantavirus in my corner of earth, in light of new data found because of your info, i feel far less concerned for the little critter. Finding a mouse tail on the stairs this morning, i felt a little bad. After reading the CDC info? Notsomuch.

      Even with the statistical improbability that critters here carry the virus, the consequences are serious enough to completely reframe my point of view. Let’s hear it for data! Oh, and cats. Cats may be assholes, but mine is earning his keep…

  7. Quite a deep and meaningful post from you today petal, indeed with a rather thought provoking question right at the end. An intriguing dilemma has now been placed before us involving pathos, humour and a definite request for your readers to look within ourselves, cogitate and then ask the important question, do we have it in ourselves to take a life, regardless of form.

    I believe dinahmow’s first two opening sentences summed it up perfectly for me, although, personally, that wasn’t always the case as far as my past is concerned. Guilt is a human condition that regulates the extent of our actions in regard to survival of ourselves and all other living beings around us. Compassion is in us, we offer compassion in order to receive compassion. Karma, for want of a better word. Sometimes it is just nice to be nice.

    A great post hen. Bravo.

    By the way, what sort of bra and how short were the shorts? Purely for my own scientific research you understand?

    • i have never doubted that if necessary to protect myself or others, i would be capable of taking a human life. If not physically, at least ethically. Can’t imagine that i’d be the same on the other side of that, though…

      i would love to tell you that i was wearing my finest lace and satin undergarments, breasts heaving from exertion, and clearly responding to the frigid temperatures. Reality, however, puts me in my reliable underwire black ‘front-loader’, and a comfy pair of gym shorts, that have a few paint stains here and there… but perhaps it’s not coincidence that they were a gift from Studley and are emblazoned with the Scottish flag!

  8. There aren’t too many kritters that I condemn to death.
    Unless they happen to be a centipede.
    Or millipede.
    Or rat. (mice too)
    Those kritters die.

    As for humans? I would absolutely do so to protect those I love.
    Ask the poor bastard who made the mistake of breaking into my house.
    He was NOT prepared for a crazed woman running at him screaming and wielding a machete.
    Yep, I could do it.

    If we don’t touch base before hand, I wish you and yours the Merriest of Christmases filled with laughter, peace and love!
    xoxoxoxox
    ~Blaze

    • i have no doubt your burglar regretted much by the end of his evening! i sleep with a machete in the night stand as well. (not a euphimism)

      Wishing you a wonderful holiday, sister! And hope you’re not too buried under snow to enjoy it!

      Xoxoxo

  9. In my opinion, your cat functioned exactly as intended. Thank him and ask that he keep you in good stead. We live in hanta virus country so rodents aren’t welcome.

    • The mouse did what he was programmed to do. The cat did what he was programmed to do. The dog did what he was programmed to do (he’s old, so that means he slept through it!). i just wanted to question my own programming… and i wonder why there was any hesitation as well.

      hantavirus is nothing to mess with – and understanding a bit more about it, i will have no problem dispatching the little dudes outside in the future…

  10. My cat did something similar with the only mouse I’ve seen in my house. This mouse escaped. I have not seen one since or any evidence of mice inside the house. What lives and dies in our world? Sadly we are really still in cave man mode. Everything lives and dies depending on our needs, whims and ability. Hopefully someday this will no longer be the case.

    • i haven’t had much of a spider problem since i acquired the cat. i may always have to have a cat! he certainly pays the rent!

      yes, we decide – based on history, instinct, and momentary needs – what and who stays or goes. it would be nice if we could do a bit more ‘live and let live’…

      • Same here with the spiders. I always had an abundance of them until I began letting the cat stay inside. I’m not really afraid of spiders or mice but I don’t won’t either crawling on my body or my stuff.

  11. I only hesitate long enough to get my husband near enough to kill whatever offending creature has shown up. Before I had the husband I had a cat that would eat the spiders I pointed out to her. She would crunch away and then spit out the legs…hmmm.

    • i’ve realized that it’s important to have both a cat and a dog! the cat handles the unwanted ‘livestock’, but would be completely useless should someone try to break into the house. my dog would probably be pretty worthless protecting me from an axe murderer, but at least he’d bark, and wake me up to see the hatchet coming!

  12. Much against the female majority’s vote in the house at the moment I will always endeavour to catch a spider never kill it. They do much good catching and eating flies and things that I hate and spread disease.

    We had a mouse in our garage some years back – little bugger was eating through the sack to then nibble the potatoes – honestly he seemed to put more effort into the sack gnawing than the potatoes!

    Took several attempts but we caught him – I had to use humane traps as dictated by my daughter and so once caught we tramped the half a mile or so to the nearest woods to release him. My daughter therefore convinced he went off to live a life of idyllic bliss with his country wood friends. On the other hand I was thinking given he was a house mouse hiding in our relatively warm, safe, dry garage with on tap potato diet I suspect the poor thing died through cold, disease or violence before the day was out. Hey ever the optimist me :-)

    • “Catch and release” is a kind practice… i tend to agree that your little mousey ended up feeding an owl, or feral cat. But we do like that delusion… Unless i can teach my cat to become a Buddhist, i’m pretty sure he’s going to keep killing them, though. And i shall continue to look the other way and be grateful that i don’t run into the giant spiders i used to find in the autumn!

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