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.