A present I would rather have done without

By | July 6, 2008

There has been a polite little family of mice sharing our house, aside from the domesticated variety safely ensconced in their aquarium. I call them polite because they never left droppings anywhere in plain sight, and because they resisted all human food, confining their snacking to the commercial mouse food in our bathroom closet and to the cat’s food bowl when she was otherwise engaged.

Unfortunately for them, she was not always otherwise engaged, and has been gradually reducing their number.  And thus, we have found a series of little deceased rodents in various locations around the house, sometimes sans cranium.  It seems that the cat does not care for the rest of the mouse.

As of a few months ago, we believed that the entire family had been eliminated, but then a greyish brown straggler was sighted on two occasions (once be me, once by the kids) racing under the door into our butler’s pantry.  Unable to locate the little visitor, we bided our time, contenting ourselves with the knowledge that eventually, the trusty feline would handle the situation.

This evening, while sitting in the living room quietly reading a book (it is quite remarkable how quiet the house can be when A… and all the kids are in Cleveland), I suddenly heard the cat scuffling in the dining room, followed by the distinctive sound which she makes in only one circumstance.  “Well, it’s about time she took care of that last mouse,” I said to myself, and got up to see to its disposal.

However, the cat did not wait for me in the dining room.  Instead, she came trotting into the living room, with a little brown bundle in her mouth.  Still moving.

The cat proceeded to drop the mouse and play with it for a minute or two as it tried to escape.  Then, apparently the victim of one too many neck grabs from the cat’s fangs, it stopped moving.  The cat whined at me, upset that its plaything had stopped “playing,” and I went into the kitchen to get a brush and dustpan to deal with it.

I swept the mouse into the dustpan and stood up to throw it away, at which point I realized that it was still breathing.  I concluded that it was playing dead, it was just stunned, or the cat had managed to paralyze it without killing it.  I suppose that if I weren’t a little sissy I would have at this point taken a friend’s recommended approach of fetching a pair of pliers and breaking the mouse’s neck to put it out of its misery, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

So instead, I walked down to the corner of my block and emptied the dustpan into the public trash barrel there, reasoning that if the mouse could still move, it would extricate itself from the trash barrel and find somewhere else to live, and if it couldn’t, I had properly disposed of it.

I cannot say that I am particularly proud of the possibility that I might have left an innocent little creature to spend an indeterminate amount of time lying terrified, unable to move, in a trash barrel, before finally giving up the ghost.

This was not a good way to end Shabbat.

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One thought on “A present I would rather have done without

  1. Jen

    Actually, if it gets out of the trash barrel, it’ll return to its nesting place in or near your home. That said, I may note that *I* was applying the pliers only when the wee beastie was stuck on a glue trap, from which I could not possibly reasonably extricate it (and any process of getting it off the trap would terrify it more and increase its suffering) and on which it would definitely die after “one or two days.” There’s a difference between mercy-killing something in that instance and killing something that might be viable.

    So despite my agreeing that you’re a sissy (;->), I think you made the right call. I wouldn’t have killed it either. (Well, ok, maybe at the height of my infestation when I was considering just burning down the house and moving…)


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