Friday, November 23, 2012

Me 3 Cat 0

(Warning: This post contains accounts of the extermination of household pests, do not read it if you are offended or squeamish, please).

It was a low water year last year. What that tends to mean is that a lot of the critters that live in the woods start coming into neighborhoods in search of food, because enough of it didn't grow up in the hills. From deer to cougars to voles, there's just more critters in the neighborhood this year.

Unfortunately, what that has meant in my house is that we have mice in our walls. Mice! Now, I'm sure I've mentioned this enough times in the past that you all know by now, but I have a cat. It's an churlish, unpleasant standoffish beast, but until now, it was enough to keep the mice away. I guess the mice got word that my cat is scared of its own shadow, much less anything that is actually alive.

So, despite the fact that the cat isn't away, the mice are playing. What am I to do with a mouse problem and a worthless cat? Well, I got myself some traps, and set to work playing like I'm a cat.

My first trap attempts, the no view, no touch ones, got me nothing. The mice were not enticed by the peanut butter that lay within.

But one day my daughter saw a mouse in her closet. I went down and started removing all the items off the floor. I took with me one of mouse-kind's oldest enemies, a kitchen broom. Eventually, I removed all the hiding places for the mouse, and then the broom took care of it for me.

Cats are the natural enemies of mice, but I was the one taking care of them. The score was me 1 cat 0. It made me wonder why I was buying food week after week for this worthless thing that provided no usefulness nor affection.

Sadly, that was not the last mouse. As time went on, I saw another mouse, and it was brazen enough to scramble around my kitchen floor, skirting the edges of the cabinets, while I was still awake and in the room.

The fancy no touch traps continued to not work, so I had to move on to the old-fashioned kind that you see in all the old Tom & Jerry cartoons.

Rish Outfield and I were podcasting one night, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw the mouse make another brazen run from one spot of cover to another. I'd thought it had dashed into my pantry, so I grabbed the broom, and had Rish help me remove everything from the floor piece by piece, as I'd done earlier with the one in my daughter's closet.

No dice, however. My peripheral vision had led me astray. The mouse had probably been leaving my pantry instead. Eww.

We went back to podcasting, but as we did, Rish kept seeing the mouse venture out and grab at crumbs on the floor. We placed a trap out with a hunk of bread on it as bait, and the monster actually stripped the bread from the trap without setting it off, as Rish watched in amazement. It was like a scene right out of a cartoon. So tired and cliché, that it couldn't be believed if it wasn't seen.

I had to re-set the trap, and this time I squished the bread onto the trap so that it couldn't be pulled off without setting it off. I know, I set it off on my fingers once while preparing it.

The mouse didn't return, not while we were podcasting, nor for the rest of that night. It was probably gorging itself sick on the food we'd already provided it, I suppose.

I was determined, though. I knew where the mouse was looking for food each night now, and I was going to get it. I re-set the trap again the next night, and at four in the morning or so, I awoke to a strange clacking in the kitchen. My wife sent me out to investigate, and I found my cat trying to abscond with a mouse that was caught in a trap.

The nerve! I had caught that mouse, and my cat was trying to claim it as her own. Nice try, but the score is me 2 cat 0. It was becoming a rout.

It didn't stop there. I saw a mouse run behind my fridge, so I pulled it out, and found nothing. I was confused, because I knew it hadn't com out the other side. I realized that it must be hiding inside the fridge. Not where the food is, but underneath where the coils and wires were. I planted some traps down there, and sure enough, a little while later, got another mouse.

Now it was me 3 cat 0.

Now the question comes up. Just today, my wife called me at work and said, "It's you 3 cat 1."

I couldn't believe it. I was sure there was no way it could be true. I had set traps in the basement storeroom, because we were pretty sure there was a mouse nibbling his way into things we were keeping down there, but the cat was a useless mouser, so there must be another explanation.

She told me that the kids had found a dead mouse left on the stairs, and unless it crawled half way up the stairs then had a heart attack, the cat must be responsible.

I'm glad that we got another one, but I hate to give up the shutout. I find it really hard to believe. The cat's idea of mousing is staring at a place that a mouse is known to be for a while, then getting bored and going off in search of a good spot to nap.

I went downstairs, and checked the trap that I had set, and found it sprung. So, like those politicians who won't give up even though there really isn't any likelihood that the recount will come up different, I refuse to concede that mouse to the cat. I think the trap killed or injured it, and the cat just picked up my scraps, like she tried to do with the original mouse in the trap. She probably grabbed the dead mouse from the trap, only this time, unlike the first time, it came out of the trap, and she didn't have to drag it along with the mouse.

At the very least, we can call it a draw, or no contest, or whatever. I say it's still me 3 cat 0. Catch me another one cat, prove me wrong.

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