[This post will have to wait a few days to be published, because we have a rule about making it public (as in broadcasting it to the world on the web) when Mark is out of town. This week he’s in Costa Rica for business. The events described took place on the night of December 7th and the following day, Thursday, December 8th.]
We have mice. Now, I am not the kind of woman who sees a mouse and runs screaming for help. (I reserve that for spiders, as they are clearly the deadliest creatures on earth and perfectly capable of ripping my arm off and beating me to death with it.) I do not fear or even hate mice, per se, but neither do I appreciate them chewing on and/or pooping all over my stuff. We have made several attempts to deal with them. Poison seems to have no effect. (Judging by the fact that I put it out, they scarf it down, and yet still keep right on living.) We tried one of those live “catch and release” traps but our mice are apparently too smart to fall for it. Neither Mark nor I could quite bring ourselves to set out the old-fashioned snap traps. 1) I don’t want to have to empty them; 2) we have cats who would undoubtedly get their noses or feet snapped off while trying to steal the mouse bait. Which brings up the whole thing with the cats.
We have 3 cats. Generally speaking, they are fairly sucky at mouse catching. That, or they are just too lazy to bother. (Mark’s theory.) At least one of them is capable of catching mice. There have been a few times the we got up in the morning to find a partially eaten and/or mutilated mouse corpse waiting for us on the kitchen floor. (Gross, I know, but at least she doesn’t feel the need to bring her “present” into the bedroom and leave it on the bed for us.) There has been much debate about which cat is the capable, if lazy, mouser. Of the 3, there are 2 candidates: Lily and Marble.
The 3rd cat is not an option. Phoebe is too old to care about chasing much of anything. She spends most of her time sleeping. Plus, she has this frustrating little problem with being unable to retract her claws. We call her the Velcro kitty because she tends to stick to things. Just walking across the carpet can be funny to watch. If she took a swipe at a mouse, the thing would still be stuck her foot hours later. So, either Marble or Lily is our off/on mouser.
Mark is not a big fan of cats. He prefers dogs. You wouldn’t know he has a preference, though, considering how willing he is to buy them toys. Lily generally deems herself above playing with “fake” mice and plastic balls with bells in them. Marble, on the other hand, goes bonkers for all of them. She will carry the fake mice around the house in her mouth, sometimes meowing at them. She chases the jingle balls until she loses them beneath furniture. Watching her play is not only cute, but entertaining as well. Which might explain why, when we were browsing the pet aisle at our local Wal-Mart a few weeks back, Mark took me seriously when I picked up a specific cat toy and joked that we ought to buy it.
Normally, when I get toys for the cats, I stick to the cheapest stuff I can find. I get the multi-packs of ridiculously colored fake mice or plastic jingle balls. This toy was different, though. It was a good-sized fake, stuffed mouse. What makes this mouse so special, besides its cute little ears, is that it makes a realistic squeaking noise. Every time the mouse moves, even just a tiny bit, it squeaks. I joked about how much the cats would love it and Mark was like, “Get it.” So we did.
We brought it home and tossed it in the floor and Marble went nuts for it. Lily even plays with it sometimes. The cats find and lose and find and lose it over and over again. We’ll see them batting it all over the place and laugh about someone finding “The Squeaker.” Then it will disappear for a couple of days. The squeaking is fairly loud, so we can hear it whenever they have it, even if the TV is on. Mark says he’s been woken up a few times during the night by the non-stop squeaking while Marble swatted it around. I’ve never heard it then, but I’m good at tuning those kinds of things out.
So I tell you all this so that I can tell you THIS. I was sitting here last night messing with my computer. Not sure what I was actually doing. Reading or something. Anyway, the TV was on but I wasn’t really watching it. Then I heard the squeaker start up and I thought, “Oh, they’ve found it.” I haven’t seen or heard it in a few days. There’s no telling where it was. I heard the squeak, then the sound of cat feet running around in the kitchen, then more squeaking. This went on for a few minutes before I sat aside the computer and glanced over into the kitchen. That’s when I realized that the “squeaker” Lily and Marble were playing with was NOT the one we’d bought in the store.
There, in the middle of the floor, was a little mouse. A live one. Lily was doing that thing cats do where they let it go and wait for it to try to run before they smack it again. Now, as I have said, I do not appreciate the mice making themselves at home in my cabinets. I am always proud of my cats when I find that they’ve rid the house of one more of the little pests. However, I am way too much of a sap to actually sit and watch them kill one. So, idiot that I am, I got up and grabbed a cup and a paper plate and joined Lily and Marble in chasing the thing around the kitchen. It was pretty much worn out after what it had already been through. Plus, Lily and Marble actually helped herd it. I put the cup on the floor and used the paper plate to prod the mouse into the cup, then stood there trying to figure out what to do next.
If it were summer, I would have just put it outside. No doubt the mouse would have just found its way back into the house, but my primary goal was to not have to watch it die. But it was freezing cold out and since the thing is used to living in the house, I was standing there thinking that tossing it outside would be no better than letting the cats kill it. So I parked myself on the couch with my cup o’mouse beside me and sent Mark an email.
This is the actual email exchange between us.
Me: I heard squeaking & figured the cats were playing with the mouse.
I was right. It just wasn’t the one I thought.
I couldn’t stand to watch (or listen to) them kill it, so now I have it in a cup & have no idea what to do with it. I’m such a sap!
Mark: Unfortunately if they broke the skin it is dead already. I can get a habitrail for Christmas if otherwise
Me: I think it’s actually all right, unless there’s some kind of internal damage. It was clearly terrified, but running all over the place trying to escape Lily and Marble. I’m not actually going to try to handle it, of course, but from what I can see, it looks fine physically. It was panting like mad, but has settled down now that it’s not getting cat paws to the head. It’d toss it outside, but I figure it’ll just freeze to death.
Mark: Keep it. There is a small aquarium in the barn you can get tomorrow rip up the old clothes for bedding water cheese what more does a mouse need until we buy some bedding chips and a habitrail . I not sure what to put it in until tomorrow. Probably needs water and warm dark place.
Me: Great. A pet mouse. What the heck are we going to call him? Her? God in heaven, I’m screwed up!Love and miss you. Guess I’ll go hunt up something to keep the little twerp in.
Mark: Twerp is a unisex name.
Me: I have to be in Madison tomorrow so assuming the mouse survives the night, I’ll stop in at China-mart (our nickname lately for Wal-Mart) and see if they have a small habitrail. At the very least, I’ll pick him up some hamster food, as apparently cheese is not actually what they should be fed. Seems that they are lactose intolerant. Who knew? I gave him some dog and cat food, plus some sunflower seeds. Water too, of course. We’ll see how it goes.My appt. tomorrow isn’t until 9:45, so you should have no trouble getting hold of me in the morning.I love you. Twerp loves you, too, since you didn’t suggest I let the cats eat him/her.
And so, Twerp got moved into a fairly large plastic tub that once held kitty litter. This seemed somehow appropriate to me. I stuck him/her in the hall bathroom, so that I could shut the door and prevent the cats from finishing what they’d started. This morning I got up to check on Twerp and sure enough, he/she was fine. (I’m leaning toward she, because as I told Mark earlier, with my luck she’s already pregnant and will soon give birth to a dozen more little Twerps.)
The big white thing in front is a toilet paper tube that I put in there thinking Twerp would like the idea of hiding in it. When I first checked on her this morning, she was inside it. I could just see her little butt sticking out. When I went back to check on her right before I left, she’d come out and was just sitting there.
So I went to my doctor’s appointment, then went by Wal-Mart and picked up some stuff, including a little cage, complete with wheel, house, and water bottle. I got a couple of different kinds of feed, one for rats and mice that looks like little cardboard bricks and a hamster/gerbil mix that has seeds and stuff in it. Plus Twerp has a little salt wheel to lick and some apple sticks to chew on. Mice are like rabbits that way. They need to chew. Anyway, I got home and put the cage together, then added some bedding/litter made from ground up corn cobs. (I figure Twerp will like to eat that, too.) And finally I was ready to add Twerp. This was a bit more complicated than I expected, mostly because the door on the cage isn’t all that large. Plus, Twerp proved to be completely uninterested in getting back into another cup. Eventually, I did convince her to go into her little toilet paper tube and so I picked it up and carefully put her into her new home. She does not like it.
She spent a couple of minutes running around, trying to figure out how to escape through the bars. Then she just parked herself in a corner and glared at me.
Of course, she has no idea that I not only saved her life last night, but am bending over backwards to keep her alive. See, when I got home from the store this morning. I found a gruesome little present waiting for me in the kitchen floor. This mouse – possibly Twerp’s sister or brother or even a parent – was not as fortunate as Twerp. I was not here to rescue it. And so all that was left was a head and a bloody smear on the linoleum. (Double gross!)
Apparently, Lily did not appreciate me taking her super realistic “squeaker” away from her last night, so she went and caught herself another one. I do feel kinda sorry for it, but honestly, I’m just glad that she waited until I was gone to do it so that I wouldn’t wind up with a pair of mice instead of just the one!
Ah, well, such is life. I don’t know what’s worse, me for being too much of a sissy to condemn the thing to death (either by cat or by freezing) or Mark for immediately suggesting we keep it like a pet. I have told him many times that when I was a kid I always wanted a hamster or gerbil. I had friends who had one and I thought it was just so cute. Mamma wasn’t going for it, though. Dogs and cats were as far into the pet pool as we were going. Well, there were some chickens and a horse. And a duck named Seymour who was actually a female. But no rodents of any kind. Mark had a hamster when he was a kid and it escaped. His mom never quite forgave him for that.
Anyway, we now have a pet mouse. More accurately, we have a captive mouse, since Twerp does not actually seem interested in being a pet. I guess she’ll live out her live in comfort and luxury though.
Anybody know how long mice live?
UPDATE: Well, I got up this morning (Friday, Dec. 9) and went to check on Twerp. Apparently, I did not secure the door properly and there was no Twerp in the cage. I looked all over the place, just to make sure, but she/he was gone. I was both saddened and relieved by this.
Then, tonight, right about the time I was due to start getting ready to go pick Mark up at the airport, I heard something fall over on the counter. A second later I heard a cat hit the floor. Sure enough, here came Lily trotting around the bar with a mouse in her mouth. I sighed, then got up and grabbed a cup. By the time I’d done that, Lily had dropped the mouse and it was making a run for it. She and Marble gave chase with me right behind them. This went on for a few minutes, Lily or Marble grabbing the mouse or swatting the mouse, me trying to keep them from killing it, it running behind anything and everything trying to get away from all of us. Eventually, the mouse faked the cats out and ran behind a box. I moved the box and it shot across the kitchen and behind the door that leads to the laundry room. The cats went after it and I followed. None of us was sure if it was still behind the door or if it had gone around the corner into the half bath. I was going in there to check when it took off back toward the kitchen then hung a right and darted across the living room floor. Lily caught sight of it and gave chase all the way to the end table. I sank onto the floor to look under the end table to see if Lily had caught it or if it was hiding somewhere. Right about that time, Katie (the dog) decided that she needed to join the fun. She came over to investigate all the action going on around the end table. The mouse picked that moment to dart out from behind the curtain where it had hidden. It spotted Lily and veered off, disappearing under the couch. Lily came out from under the end table, trying to follow the mouse. Katie took that opportunity to give Lily some of what she’d been dishing out to the mouse. She smacked Lily with her foot and tried to hold her down. Lily was too slick for her, though, and slid out between her back legs.
So, the mouse was safe beneath the couch. I have no idea if it was Twerp or not. If it was, then she clearly didn’t learn her lesson about tangling with the cats. Mark came in and took a look at the cage and all the stuff in it and was like, “What mouse would leave this?” I must say I agree. It’s a pretty snazzy setup. We’re now thinking about getting a gerbil for it.