Monday, November 28, 2011

COLUMN: Mouse


Since becoming a homeowner, I've learned to roll with the punches. When the washer backed up and nearly submerged my basement, I rolled with it. When I hit the wrong button on the vacuum cleaner and a gallon of dirt foomp-ed all over the kitchen floor, I rolled with it. When a wind storm came precariously close to depositing half a tree in my living room, I rolled with it. But there's one thing I will NOT put up with:

Squatters.

A month ago, I came home from the store with a load of groceries. Among my purchases? A new bag of cat food, which I placed in the hall closet. A week or so later, I went to open the new bag... to find that mission already accomplished. As I lifted the bag, rogue bits of kibble cascaded from a gash at the bottom of the bag. Several scenarios sprung to mind:

• My cats are NOT dumb. The bag of food was so close to the door that they reached through the crack and clawed open the bag. Bad kitties.

• My cats are capable of premeditation. Clearly they conspired together to jump up, turn the knob, open the door, claw open the cat food, and then shut the door leaving me none the wiser. VERY bad kitties.

• I am the worst cat owner ever and somehow managed to shut one of them in the closet while getting ready for work. Can't blame the cat for clawing open the food bag for survival. Thankfully, she must've escaped when I got home and hung up my coat. Bad human.

• The house is haunted by a ghost with a particular affinity for Cat Chow. All I need to do is set up a series of motion cameras, thermal and electro-magnetic field detectors, and perhaps a grey-haired psychic to croak, “Go into the light! There is peace and serenity in the light!” Bad undead.

Maybe the bag had ripped at the store. Maybe the bags are just cheaply made. It could have been a billion things, so I just ignored it and transferred all the food to a plastic container.

But then I got another new bag of cat food, put it in the same closet, reached for it a week later, and once again got showered in kibble. That's when it hit me:

These bags are being ripped by a non-cat, non-human, and likely non-ghost entity. Dare I say it, methinks I have a mouse In the house.

Mice are cute. I could watch them do their thing all the live-long day... provided that thing occurs safely behind glass. Mice tend to lose their cute when they're free-range walking about your house.

My old apartment complex had mice -- until I got my first cat. Chelsea was a mouser extraordinaire, a skill I discovered one morning at exactly 7:02 a.m. when she jumped on my chest and proudly spit a freshly-dead mouse onto my neck. Coincidentally enough, 7:03 a.m. that same morning was when I first discovered that it's possible to go from a dead sleep to a scream in under a minute.

That wasn't the only time my first cat gifted me with a mouse corpse. All told, there were 4 in total over the years, each more disgusting than the last. But when Chelsea went to that big ball of yarn in the sky, I missed my mouser.

A year later, I took in the sister kitties that I have today. From that day on, I never saw or heard another mouse in that apartment. My neighbors would complain about mice all the time, but with the twins on patrol, it was a non-issue.

That's why I now needed to call a family meeting. My security team is NOT known for slacking. In fact, just last week, I saw them take down Mothra's little cousin with tag team precision, aerial acrobatics, and a hang time Michael Jordan himself couldn't pull off. All they needed was motivation.

“You understand that I allow you to live here rent-free, right?" I began. "I give you food, I clean up your poop, and I scratch under your chins when you come up going 'mrow.' All I ask in return is unconditional love, continued cuteness... and your unwavering diligence in keeping mice out of the house. Step it up a notch, ladies.”

I sensed understanding, but apparantly not. As I type this, they're both dead asleep beside me on the couch while Mickey and Minnie could be turning my hallway closet into mouse-miniums for all their little friends. No good. Time to get pro-active.

That's why I just placed my very first mousetrap. Don't worry, I'm not snapping any necks today. Like I said, mice are cute, albeit just a little terrifying. Ergo, I bought a little mouse apartment from whence there is no escape until I pick up the trap, take it outside, and let the little sucker go. To bait the trap, I bought something called "mouse attractant" that is advertised to be "better than cheese or peanut butter" but looks like purple snot and smells considerably worse.

It's been baited for two hours now, and thus far, no takers. In a way, this makes me happy, because I still don't know if I've got the guts to pick up a mouse-filled trap and take it outside without dying of fear that a legion of angry rodents will spring forth, run up my pant leg, and promptly give me both the black plague AND cooties simultaneously.

Maybe the ghost explanation IS the best. After all, I've yet to hear any mice scurrying about -- and if they ARE making a home in my closet, they're clearly tidy and potty-trained residents, because the only evidence I have to their existence are two holes in two bags. Frankly, if they keep their droppings and Lyme Diseases to themselves, they can turn the cracks and crevices of my house into Mousetopia for all I care. Just back off the Cat Chow, buddies. And if it's something other than mice? I'd rather not know about it and live a blissfully ignorant life where holes in bags can be blamed on ghost cats.

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