Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wanted: Cat With an Effective Mother

This is what I'm going for. 

Not this.

Last night I was just finishing dinner—chicken pot pie, salad, and apple slices—when I heard scratching and gnawing inside one of my cupboards. The cupboard I keep my Starbucks coffee and Wildflower iced tea in.

Now they’re trying to screw with my caffeine intake. Bastards.

Listening to the little scratchy-scratchy sounds gave me a stomach ache  and I didn't want to open the cupboard to inspect it, lest a mice might dive bomb me right at face level, and you all know what that would do to me.

Put me right in the asylum. Just hand me my straight jacket now.

I tried to call my husband who was supposedly on his way home, but he didn’t answer. Twice. I finally called my neighbor to come check it out since I couldn’t take the anxiety anymore. He did some inspecting and the long and the short of it is, found no mice. But they are still alive and well in my kitchen walls somewhere, probably with a paw full of poo to throw at me given the opportunity.

I can’t tell you how many people have suggested we get a cat. Just today my mother even brought it up.
“Well, what you need is a cat,” she said.
“I’ve considered that, but how do I know I’m going to get a mouser and not just a cat who likes to tinker around with them like stuffed toys?” I replied.
“You know, cats learn those things from their mother. If the mother cat teaches the kittens how to do it, then they’ll chase the mice,” she added helpfully. It always comes back to the mother doesn't it?

Fabulous. So she’s saying I need to scour the alleys looking for a street cat with street smarts, whose mother showed them the finer points of catching and killing rodents? Do you think the people at the MSPCA have the vitaes for the strays in their shelter, filed by personality habits and specialized skills? I’m pretty sure that most cats these days are from the genetic line of the washing-mittens-and-eating-pie type. Meow meow meow.

Perhaps I should just purchase a mouse at the pet store and secretly release it in various cat cages and see what the felines do. A little like an interview or performance evaluation. Chases mouse? Check. Catches mouse? Check. Kills mouse? Nope. Just bats it with paw and licks it. Move on to cat option #2. It’s times like these when it would be helpful if animals could talk, or if those space-age dog collars from the movie UP! were a reality. Then assessing whether a cat was up to the job would simply be a matter of questions.

“So, Tom, tell me about your past work experience.”
Tom: “Well, I used to work down on the west side of town,” he drawls with thick Italian accent, “right behind Jim’s Big Barbeque. To date I’ve captured, killed and disposed of (glances at slash marks on his furry forearm) 253 rodents of all sizes.”

I’d hire him on the spot, that Tom. Even if he was a chain smoker and had a penchant for licking himself.

But you can’t know until you’ve taken the cat home, got the darned thing acclimated to your home, and seen him in action. It’s a huge risk. That, and my husband and I are in a pretty good place. We get along well. We're jovial (mostly). We even have conversations. That this coincides with the death of my other cat two years ago is pure coincidence I'm sure. But I'm a little worried that bringing a new cat into the home would turn our topics of conversation towards, "Did you notice it smells like cat piss downstairs?" or "When's the last time you changed that litter box?" or "There's cat hair all over my workshirts." Am I ready to potentially sacrifice my spousal relationship to appease my germ-a-phobic, controlling, type-A nature?

If I find a new piece of mouse poo I am.

If anyone out there knows of a cat whose mother did her due diligence to the breed and taught the thing how to be a mouser, feel free to contact me. If I like the cat and it works out, I promise to reward you with a special treat: probably something I baked in my kitchen.

10 comments:

Sandy said...

Oh, bummer. We just had an issue with mice and rats. Ack! We live in a somewhat rural area and it is a constant battle with rodents. A couple of weeks ago we were catching multiple mice a day in traps in the garage. We even had the professional pest people come out. It seems under control now, but we have to keep our guard up. I've thought of getting a cat, too, except my husband is allergic.

Rachel said...

Sandy, have you considered getting a cat just to live in the garage? It'd be a little bit like you own personal lion. So far, no more mice caught in the garage or cupboards...but with the tropical storm due to hit us, I'm wondering if the weather will force more of them towards the house. And rats? I don't know how you're still standing sister. I raise a trap to your efforts! Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

Rachel,
You are the second person I know in as many weeks to have mice! Their cat just followed it down the hall looking only mildly interested in what it( the mouse) was going to do next,no hunting/catching. Interview would definitely be the way to go!! :-)

Rachel said...

Anonymous,
I'm wondering if the weather has anything to do with it. My mother suggested that scorpions move inside homes when it's particularly rainy, and I'm curious if mice do the same thing. The rodent party at my house was during the last huge storm (we were in Maine. If that hypothesis is correct, then I'm in for it with Earl lurking around the corner. It'll be like the biblical pestilence all over again. Sigh.

Megan said...

About the cats, I would offer up my two, but you would have to pay for them to fly to Boston. That being said, I was mildly impressed with them the other day while witnessing them play with a cricket for a good 10 minutes before eating it. Score. (Although I did feel a bit like my house was possibly well known in the cricket circles for the amount of time my cats terrorize the things before they kill them). That brings me to the mouse. All I know is...don't give it a cookie. Because if you give a mouse a cookie...

Rachel said...

It's going to want a glass of milk. What do you think mice want after eating toast crumbs? I need to find out so I don't give them any of that...

Marian the Contrarian said...

I could rent you my cat, maybe. I'm not sure he had a good mother, but he IS a good hunter (the Great White Hunter, I call him. His name is Purrly though.) He systematically taught my little female Siamese cat to hunt, but she can't kill anything (good, for birds - bad, for rodents.) Seriously... (seriously, I WOULD rent him for a bit, just to see - but I definitely want him back!)...if you found cats who were outdoor cats - like barn cats, their kittens would almost certainly have been taught to hunt. And they would likely get tame(ish) before too long. An idea?

MAYBELLINE said...

I'm with you on the fear and hate of rodents. That's the only reason I have cats. I didn't teach them a thing. It seems to come naturally. I get mice regularly. Now I keep anything they might want to tear up in containers they cannot get into or in the refrigerator.

Your writing is excellent.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered enlisting the help of the fisher cats in your back yard???

Your Easton mice usually migrate to the home twice a year. They look for new nesting in the fall and spring. If you trap heavily around the inside perimeters, late August and early March you can usually control the problem before they start "settling" in for the season.

a recap of animals found in our yard so far...Deer, coyote, hawk,
turkey vulture, turkey, chicken, rabid racoon, hare, bull frog, frog, salamander, snake, chipunk army, bat, owl, fisher cat....

those poor little country mice are just looking for a safe haven.

You might not want to look inside the washer with the bottom panel off.... The toaster is just the vacation home.

Anonymous said...

p.s. That last post was the Weintrobs..