While we were at the feed mill today Ivy started playing with one of the mill’s cats. This started a discussion between the owner and I on how cats have been their most effective form of rodent control, better than poison, which got me thinking of our own rodent problems, and that got me thinking of Henry. …Because he was the worlds worst mouser. In addition to being a horrible mouser he also bit, ate everything (and I mean everything, he ate newspaper bedding once), was constantly escaping or getting into places he wasn’t supposed to go, and was in general incorrigible. His big redeeming factor was that he was great with Ivy. Ivy could do anything to him. The cat that would hiss, spit and bite when you threw him off the counter would let himself be dragged around the house, pet and generally mauled so long as it was done by someone under three feet tall. It will be two years this summer since we had to put Henry down. My foot has lost the auto blocking reflex I used to have when opening any exterior/pantry door but sometimes, when Fiona runs away from Ivy, I miss him… and then I remember how used to bite my toes under the table! Fiona’s main expertise is the art of camouflage so now days some visitors don’t even realize we have a cat, and as nice as Fiona is she’s nothing to talk about, she’s got no crazy escapades to tell. Henry, now that was a cat with stories, he must have been trying to pack them all into to his short little life. Here is my favorite of his “I’m the worse mouser in the word” stories.
Henry and the Freezer Mouse
One night when I was home alone and John was working second shift a squeaking noise got me out of bed to investigate. It was, of course, Henry with a mouse. Part of Henry’s completely horrible mousing skills had to do with the fact that he never, ever, in his life killed a mouse. Sometimes he would catch them but they always escaped him in the end. So the desired action when he would catch one was to try to take it away and kill it so that it didn’t just escape back into the house when he got bored with it.
So, I got out of bed and found Henry with a very lively mouse. Henry was holding the mouse and growling at it because the mouse was biting him. Then Henry would let it go, the mouse would try to run away and Henry would catch it again. Over and over and over. I grabbed an empty coffee can and tried to overturn it on the mouse, I completely failed to catch the mouse, and instead spilled bits of straw and feathers that were in the can (it was my egg collecting bucket) all over the kitchen floor. To make matters worse now Henry knew I was after HIS mouse. We raced around the downstairs of the house until I locked us all in the office.
There we were sitting on the floor, Henry growling at me through his mouthful of mouse while giving me the evil eye as I sat waiting with my coffee can. Then the mouse bit him again, he dropped it, I tried to catch it with my coffee can, missed and Henry grabbed it again… This went on with slight variations (mostly involving a bookshelf) until I finally caught the mouse. Then I didn’t know what to do with it. I had a live mouse under a coffee can what was I thinking?? (I’d like to add here that I was quite pregnant with Ivy at the time so I was probably tired and not thinking) It was at this point that I called John at work for advice. His advice, flip it over with a piece of cardboard and shake the mouse into a plastic bag and throw it in the freezer. We had finished off quite a few of Henry’s mice by throwing them in the freezer. I know that sounds kind of odd but we also froze and saved mice we caught in traps to give to REGI for the birds there so it’s not that odd. Anyways, I took Johns advice and using a folder to trap the mouse in the can, flipped the whole works over.
I didn’t hear anything.
I had expected to hear some sort of little thud when the mouse hit the bottom of the can. So I slowly peeked in the top, and fast as lightning Henry swooped in and grabbed the mouse back out of the can. And we were back to fighting over the mouse. Finally I trapped it under the can again. Deciding I had had enough I put three huge books on top of the can, threw the cat out of the office, closed the door, left a note for John to take care of it (it was his *#@ cat after all), and stomped back upstairs past the straw mess on the floor. John came home and dumped the mouse in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer.
Nobody thought about the mouse again until three days later when I went to condense my mouse bags. (Alright, fine, having bags of frozen mice is odd but it’s for a good cause!) It was easy enough to identify the bag the mouse had been in from the hole chewed in the corner… But, you guessed it, no mouse. That started me on the unpleasant task of looking for a dead frozen mouse somewhere in my freezer. I found it quickly. (Or should I say, it found me quickly?) The mouse had been hiding in a plastic bag, and when it stuck its little nose out at me the very first thing I noticed was that it was most definitely not dead and frozen! Startled I slammed the freezer door, spent a few minutes wondering how I get myself in these situations and then set a mouse trap in the freezer.
Snap traps have always worked better than cats in our house.
The End (of both the mouse and the tale)
Mousing is just the beginning of the Henry stories, there was the chocolate milk, the almost getting flushed down the toilet, the reason he got de-clawed… the list goes on and on. We love Fiona, but she’ll never have the tales to tell that Henry did. And perhaps she likes it that way, she is the queen of camo after all.