Imprinting on a Bug-Phobic Pacifist …

It’s 1:30 in the morning and the boys — my kittens — come tearing into the bedroom. They are excited. They are having a great time at something. This is normal, of course. It could be one of their five thousand catnip mice. It could be a stray piece of paper, or one of the colony of misguided bugs that find their way in through wherever that space is I haven’t discovered and plugged up yet. It could just be episode 4,509,386,172 of Cat Smackdown, when they fight to the death in between bouts of cleaning each other’s heads and sleeping curled up together.

I ignore them mostly, paying attention only long enough to see that yes, they are after something, not beating the crap out of one another.

But then I see that they are after something they are unfamiliar with. I know because they stalk and attack it as much as they leap back from it in … fear? uncertainty?

So I try to see what they’ve got, a little worried that it could be another of the gigantor, neon-green flying grasshopper-y things that was in here last week freaking the mess out of me (not a bug-lover, you know) and keeping me from going to bed until I knew he was either back outside or … um … well … dead.

I can’t see it, but I’m guessing it’s a big bug judging by the boys’ behavior. I’m not happy. The boys mean well, but they couldn’t be more lame when it comes to hunting. They are much more into slapping shit around than killing. Tristan ate a spider once, and it clearly grossed him right out. I haven’t seen him do it since. Not hunters, my boys. Playmates who don’t know their own strength is more like it. They swat at things until they’ve maimed and disabled them … and then they get bored and walk away, leaving the kill-and-clean-up for me.

(I shouldn’t be surprised that they aren’t hunters. Who’s been here to teach them? For better or worse, they’ve imprinted on me … and I don’t like to kill things, and I’m a total baby about bugs. Upon seeing a house centipede on my desk at work a couple of years ago, I jumped out of my office and had a student kill it. He was amused but took care of it, no problem. Meanwhile, I was almost an hour settling back into my chair.)

I set my computer aside and grab my glasses so I can see just what manner of crawly thing I’ll have to squish … only to find that they have a MOUSE!! Yes, a little, baby-looking mouse, actually. A still mostly-alive-seeming mouse. A mouse.

I will not be squishing some mouse under my yoga slipper. The kill-and-clean-up mission switches to rescue-and-release … which is when I discover that I’m no better with little furries than I am with bugs. Otherwise, I could just pick the poor thing up and put him outside. But I can’t do it. Can’t. I need to pick him up with something, but what? Why hasn’t anyone invented a handy pick-up-a- mouse-with-this tool yet? I get the brilliant idea of putting a glass over him and sliding something under him so he’ll be inside the glass. Haven’t I see this work on TV? I grab a plastic container from the kitchen counter (better than a glass because I can’t break it as I blunder along!) and put it over him. Step one is a roaring success … but I can’t lift the container to slide the lid under him. Feh. I can’t leave him sitting there while I go find something better because the boys are ready to have at him again. I grab a notebook and see that yes, I can slide the cover under him. Step two is a so-so success: the cover is so flimsy, I can’t pick up my mouse house without dropping him back to the eager, waiting paws of the wannabe hunters. Ah, but I can slide the lid under him now, pick up the whole thing, pull the notebook cover out and voilà: mouse in tupperware. I go outside, release my charge into the wild. Step three is at least a temporary success … temporary because how can I kid myself that this mouse is going to survive? The boys knocked him all kinds of silly. It would surely have been kinder if I’d killed him, but how exactly was that supposed to happen?

And how, exactly, do I go calmly to bed now, now that the boys are searching the house, trying to find another live catnip toy, now that I know they might actually find one?

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6 thoughts on “Imprinting on a Bug-Phobic Pacifist …

  1. We used to have the mouse relocation program when we lived in a cabin. We even had a clever acronym which I can’t remember. Some mice got to live in the fields outside the University (they looked more scholarly), some were relocated to the parking lot at HP (they looked more nerdy) and some just randomly were set free. Mice unfortunately have to be relocated over 5 miles away or they will return to your home. I looked it up.
    Then we got Rags,he took care of our mouse problem,then the neighbors’ and I think he branched out to the next canyon.He was a very popular cat in our little canyon. Some cats are mousers some are just poseurs.
    Anyway, check behind the frig and the stove, mice like to make nests there and it’s bad for the inner workings.
    My parents’ well went out once because a mouse made a nest in the pump box, it didn’t turn our well for them either (the mice I mean), they ate the insulation and Darwin won that round.
    regards,
    Theresa

  2. Mice and cats are a nice combination! our cat doesn’t really kill them to eat them, but for the pure pleasure. She even sat on one once when it crawled under a rug and smothered it to death. That was a nice surprise to discover!

    I once saw a documentary on PBS that claimed cats won’t kill their prey purposefully unless their mother has taught them the skill. One of my cats was taken away from mom before he could be taught, and he just played with mice until they died (heart attack?) but this cat is quite the hunter (just not hungry!)

  3. So far, no new mice … at least none I’ve been clued into!

    Theresa, when I was growing up, we had a cat that pretty much depopulated the bird and rodent populations for seemingly miles around. We would step out of the house and find the ‘treasures’ she had left on the steps for us: squirrels, chipmunks, mice, blue jays, sparrows … My boys could have learned a thing or two from Purlie!

    Lisa, the boys were definitely taken away from their mama too early to have learned much of anything. And they have no hope of learning from me, that’s for sure!

    Miss B — definitely get kittens! They’ve driven me mad since I’ve had them, but they’ve been so very much fun, and they couldn’t be cuter or sweeter. … and, as if on cue, Beau just jumped up next to me to pat my shoulder and nuzzle me.

  4. inmate1972

    LOL! My mastif used to do this. She would come over to me and drop a slime-covered furry into my lap just to watch me scream and fling the thing outside.

    Luckily, she’s too old and slow to catch them anymore.

  5. Ew!! Reminds me a the kittens my sister and I had years ago. One of them hunted down a water bug and dropped it on my sleeping sister (sorry, Fox, but to this day I’m glad he chose you for his prize and not me)!!

    Still no new mice around this old homestead. My fingers are crossed.

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