Cats love mice. A recognised fact, as any cat owner will know, who has cleared up chewed corpses and mangled remains left by a thoughtful cat, as a sign of their love for their owner. I love mice. I think they are dear little creatures, with their tiny pink hands, delicate tails and bright, beady eyes. I am always upset when I find dead mice, but such is the nature of cats, they are only doing what their instincts dictate.
However. I do not love mice – or the cat very much either – when aforementioned feline brings aforementioned rodent into the house whilst still alive and LETS THEM GO. Lily is actually responsible for most of the hunting in our household. I have watched Tooty chase flies and moths, Ting covet sparrows and Charlie, my cat, has never killed anything in her life. Perhaps because we had her from such an early age, she missed that part of her feline mother’s teaching, how to become an efficient hunter. Still, Charlie has plenty of toy mousies in fake fur and catnip mousies for pretend killing, so her acquaintance with the rodent world is limited.
Charlie with a ‘proper’ mousie
Lily, on the other hand, is a cat of a different nature altogether. She is a true witch’s cat, black as night with emerald green eyes. She is only a little cat, but the fiercest and the most deadly hunter, with the face of an angel and the soul of a tiger… Consequently, I see quite a lot of mice, more than I ever intended to outside of a petshop. It is thanks to Lily that I discovered we have two different species of mice within her territory boundaries, the little house mouse and the slightly larger, browner field mouse.
Strictly speaking, she is my younger son’s cat, so it is him she chooses to bless with the results of her evening hunting forays. Possibly she regards him as a somewhat ineffective provider – although he’s always ready with the kibbles when she calls – or she worries about when he leaves home for university and whether he will be able to look after himself there.
Lily, fierce huntress, looking like butter wouldn’t melt…
Either way, on this particular night my son and I had already gone to bed, and were fast asleep. Me, for once, not haunted by impossible dreams, tossing and turning, my son, deeply sleeping in his own room. My partner was downstairs watching the late film and having a last cup of tea.
“Brrrp! Mahhh! Brrp! Meow!”
Patter, patter patter-we have laminate flooring- and then:
“SAM! LILY’S GOT A MOUSE AND I COULDN’T STOP HER!”
My son and I, finely attuned to Lily’s “special” meow were already waking-my partner’s shout completed the job of jolting us into full consciousness. To be fair, he doesn’t like mice, and he does rescue me from spiders, regardless of size, so the least I could do was respond to his panicked yell…
However, we were just that little bit too slow…Lily shot past me, swerving with the skill of a seasoned footballer and dropped the mouse on my son’s bedside rug. Then it ran behind the unit. Having done her job, Lily left, leaving my son and I to haul the unit out in an attempt to capture the mouse. Moving the unit was no small job, stacked high as it was with crystals, books about crystals, college work, DVD’s, computer games…We managed to pull it out about a foot from the wall and saw the mouse, hiding between some cables.
“HAVE YOU CAUGHT IT YET? YOU HAVE TO GET IT-THEY CHEW THROUGH CABLES AND THEN THE HOUSE WILL BURN DOWN AND IT WILL ALL BE YOUR FAULT!”
Me? I didn’t catch the mouse and bring it in. With my partner’s encouraging endorsement ringing in my ears, I lunged at the mouse and…and…missed. It slipped between my fingers like a wet bar of soap, skidded four foot up the wall, shot towards my son, leapt OVER his head and vanished under the door of the airing cupboard. I didn’t know mice could jump that high…
Now we were stuffed. Inside the airing cupboard is the hot water tank, solid and immovable, the central heating controls, not to mention my clean sheets and towels. Destruction heaven for vengeful rodent teeth. Other than passing a container and lid through the door, my partner was washing his hands of the whole thing:
“THEY’RE YOUR CATS…”
We settled in to wait. As we waited, we discussed strategy. My cat, Charlie, tapped at the bedroom door, wanting to know where I was and why wasn’t I in bed, where I was supposed to be. Now, obviously, I’m biased, but Charlie is a very intelligent little cat… I thought perhaps we could use this to our advantage. We showed her where the mouse had been sitting and where it had gone. She sniffed the trail with interest, little pink nose moving delicately, eyes bright and alert. I opened the airing cupboard door and let her see inside:
Charlie V.I.P. – (Mummy’s) Very Intelligent Princess
“Look! Find the mousie for Mummy and then we can all go back to bed!”
Charlie crouched in front of the tank, then with lightning sharpness, her little arm shot out and into the gap…she pushed her face into the gap and when she withdrew her head she HAD THE MOUSE! Then she gave it to me. Literally, dropped it into my hands, I put it into the container my son was holding and he slammed the lid shut. My wonderful little cat gave me a look that clearly said:
“My work here is done. NOW can we go to bed?” and asked to leave the room.
My son gratefully returned to bed and I conveyed the mouse downstairs, unhurt and probably unaware of how it had upset my evening, and released it at the bottom of the garden.
“DID YOU HAVE ANY TROUBLE CATCHING THE MOUSE? WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?” my partner enquired.
“Charlie caught it,” I replied, “so now I’m going to bed.”
I returned wearily upstairs in the hopes of quickly regaining slumber, only to find Charlie neatly curled up in my space, the smile of the righteous curving her furry jaws. I didn’t have the heart to move her…