We have five cats of various ages, all rescues with checkered pasts. They are coddled and doted over, fed the finest cat foods and treats and now and then driven to a kind veterinarian for checkups and annual shots. They doze all day on our king-sized bed or a living room recliner, nibble snacks from a clean bowl, lap fresh water, get cuddled and brushed and entertained. Sparkle even sleeps under the blankets with her head on the pillow next to mine.
With all this easy living, I sometimes wondered: If a mouse ever got in the house, would the cats know what to do? Or would they turn over and go back to sleep?
Turns out they know what to do.
The other night I kept hearing odd sounds, not the usual bangs or meows or LittleBearischasingmeagainsaveme screams from MacyGray. These were random clunks emanating from downstairs that started and stopped. There was silence, then more bonks, then silence again. After I went to bed, the clunks came upstairs. I shifted Sparkle off the pillow so I could get up and turn the hall light on and investigate, being careful not to wake Ken.
Scooter, an adopted feral from a local shelter, hunkered down at the opposite end of the hallway.
MacyGray, adopted from a former vet because the cat’s owner had abandoned her in the back yard, was on full hunt alert. (I suspect MacyGray was the mastermind in this escapade).
LittleBear, our youngest cat, who was adopted four years ago from a group who rescued him from the streets of Newark, came swaggering down the hall like he had just been elected King of the Universe. His amber eyes gleamed. In his jaws was the slack body of a field mouse, its tail dragging across the floor.
I gasped. A MOUSE IN OUR HOUSE! But I was careful not to scold as Little Bear carried his prize into our bedroom and dropped it on a sweatshirt left on the floor. He tapped the mouse with his paw as if expecting it to jump up and play.
Oh, Little Bear, I gagged. Good boy…. (How-do-I-get-it-away-from-you…)?
I got a paper towel but Little Bear grabbed his mouse and ran into the dining room, then turned and glared at me:
You are not taking my mouse. I will fight you.
I recalled a recent dog training session I attended at the animal shelter where I am volunteering. It included a discussion about animals who really, really do not want to give something up. Don’t try and grab it, the trainer advised. Offer them something else, something they want at least as much, if not more. A distraction.
I grabbed a bag of cat treats. I’ll trade with you, Little Bear.
Forget it. This is MY mouse.
Look, Little Bear: Cookies…! cookies… ! MacyGrey, Scooter and Simba came to collect but Little Bear was not buying it.
I stepped closer and poured a pile of treats a foot from his nose.
He dropped the mouse and went for the treats. Oh yay, Creamy Dairy Flavor “Temptations.” I would spit out a dead mouse for you too.
Little Bear quickly realized what was happening to his prize and dashed back to find another pile of treats left where his mouse had been. It was enough.
But now we have to call him Your High Mouseness, your RoyalScamperFeet, your Gracious Catnip and so forth while his servants pull guard duty.