With mice, cat proves his worth

October 06, 2005|by TIM ROWLAND


When the cat named Colonel Sanders showed up under our porch with an attitude and an appetite the size of Kansas, I quickly realized I was beat.

Despite my misgivings about adding another life form to the asylum, the women of the house were cooing the asbestos off the shingles, so there I was, left alone with nothing to hold onto but my rationalizations.

Since we live in a house that gives the Pyramids a run for their longevity, the structure is not exactly what you would call airtight. Hang gliders routinely call us and ask if they can ride the drafts that come through the ancient windows and, until we replaced the doors, a full-grown leopard could have walked in through the cracks.


When we moved in, we had to go through a lengthy screening process with the mice, who weren't particularly keen on sharing the premises and wanted to be sure they were getting solid housemates.

Since then, it's been a war of attrition, with my arsenal of surface-to-surface, anti-mouse weaponry meeting with varying amounts of success.

If you are a guy who has ever had to deal with a family of mice on one hand, and a family of females on the other, you already know the problem. The women want the mice GONE and they want them gone YESTERDAY and they want you to exhaust ALL METHODS of mouse eradication NO MATTER WHAT the consequences.

Except they don't want you to hurt them.

This essentially gives them carte blanche to defiantly raise up on their little hind feet (the mice, not the women) and thumb their claws at you because they know you are hamstrung.

For example, you are not allowed to employ any device that will cause the mouse to squeal. They don't want to be blow-drying their hair and putting on their lipstick (the women, not the mice) in the morning to the sound of "eeeeeeeeee!"

This rules out snap traps and those awful little sticky sheets that catch the mouse like a sheet of flypaper, and make even me oogy.

Using poison is sketchy because we have a dog.

So I didn't know exactly how to kill the mice without, you know, killing them.

Enter the cat, which I hoped, at least, would be a remorseless killing machine.

Perhaps you've noticed, in the animal kingdom hierarchy, the felis domesticus can get away with a lot more than the husbandis bossedaroundius.

I mean, look, if it were up to me, I would use a few little moussie night-night pellets, tell him thanks for the memories, then watch him leave the house in search of water until his liver exploded. Total time of mouse discomfort: 3.2 seconds. A cat, on the other hand, will torture the poor little thing for hours, tearing off its limbs one by one as it writhes in pain and terror (I assume) while the cat plays the "Oh no, it's getting away; oh no, it's not" game.

But to a woman, a cat can get away with this because, "It's what he does."

Um. Hm. Next time she catches you downtown drinking with another woman, try the "But it's what I do" excuse and see how it plays then. Cats, you will see, get breaks that men do not.

So I agreed to take in the colonel, partly on the assumption that at least he would keep the mouse population at bay - although to be honest, by this time I had done most of the "heavy lifting" on the matter, which had become pretty much resolved in my favor through methods that are best left undescribed, just in case the EPA is reading.

A year later, however, I am happy to report that the cat has made his first kill. I caught him in the basement out of the corner of my eye doing the ritualistic pounce, bat, watch, repeat. So absorbed was he with this new recreation that a thermonuclear device could have gone off in the cat box and it wouldn't have fazed him.

I gave the cat a half hour or so of playing time, before I figured I better go sweep up the remains before the parts became too scattered. I walked over to the animal and said, "What you got there, boycat?" The spell broken, he looked up from where he had been batting around his - cricket.

The Great White Hunter had bagged a stupid insect, and he was acting for all the world as if he'd just killed a woolly mammoth with an olive fork.

He has since added a moth to the trophy case. I'm sure the cat would want you to know that this required special skills, seeing as how this game operated on vertical planes as well as horizontal. Although it about gave him a heart attack when his catch, instead of going left or right, went up.

All in all, it was a pretty pathetic effort. I hope no mice were watching.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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