Earning their keep

Marlowe caught a mouse today. Suffice to say that the rest of this post will not be for the squeamish.

I think Maggie heard it first, but Marlowe was very persistent and caught it. We let him play with it for a little, hoping for a quick kill. Silly us. He was the gentleman and let Maggie play with the mouse first. It astonished me how gentle she was with it, reaching out with velveted paws to tap it. This phase did not last long, of course.

In all, I don’t think the mouse was in the cats’ possession for much more than a minute. I kept trying to tell myself that this was nature and that I should stop being squeamish. Yeah… that would have been fine if they hadn’t just been toying with the thing. I mean, watching it try to get away with a broken leg was horrible.

So, Rob scooped it up in a tupperware and we discussed the most humane way to kill it. The cats, meanwhile are looking for another mouse.

My suggestion was to wrap it in newspaper and smack it on the head with a hammer. Rob concurred. In her youth, Maggie just presented me with a dead mouse so I’ve never had to make this decision before.

On the whole though, it’s nice that the cats are earning their keep. Right?

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17 Responses

  1. -e-

    A neighbor of mine in nyc was fond of scooping the thing up, putting it in a paper bag, and dropping the whole thing out of her 9th floor window into an alley that housed the garbage bins. She figured the mouse had a soft landing (cushioned by the air in the paper bag), and then arrived in a land of milk and honey… (and banana peels, diapers and chicken skin). David and I figured she was actually just sending the problem downstairs, and briefly at that.

  2. Evan Nichols

    Hey, “Wild Kingdom” in your living room! But better to have the cats bring them to you, than to have an injured mouse expire behind the furniture… Yes, that’s happened to me. It’s not for the squeamish, either.

  3. momk

    Rob once had a pet rat. He used to put it out in the flower beds so the critter could roam about freely for a spell. He called that fellow ‘Nicky of the Jungle”.

  4. Jenny Rae Rappaport

    Asphyxiate it. A disposable tupperware or a rubbermaid works, either covered with the lid, or something strong and solid (we used a priority mail envelope). They lose air very fast, and it’s a pretty painless way to go. That’s what we did with ours, when we caught one in October.

    Better than a hammer, at least….

  5. RFLong

    Atlantis has taken to bringing us little “gifts” – all dead so far. A bird while we were on holidays, a mouse the other day and – my particular favorite – a half foot long RAT! Thankfully he couldn’t get any of these into the house so left them in the garden.

    Ok, we live beside an area of woodland, but if he turns up with anything bigger we’re going to have the animal welfare people onto us.

    R

  6. Mary Robinette Kowal

    Momk: Really? He’s never mentioned Nicky of the Jungle to me. No wonder he commented that we could keep it as a pet last night.

    Jenny: Asphixiation is a less violent approach, and one that occurred to us, but the hammer is a quicker death. I think it’s worse for us, because it’s fairly gruesome, but maybe not for the mouse. He’s swaddled in cloth (no newspaper in the house afterall) and then everything is over.

    RFLong: When we had outdoor cats they would bring us presents. I’ve had it explained as being sort of “you guys feed me, so here’s my contribution.”

    Evan: That’s an excellent point.

  7. RFLong

    Yep. Apparently bringing something back alive is the biggest compliment. Sort of like “Hey guys. You’ve been so good to me but I thought you might like to play with this for a while and then you can have the honour of killing it!”

    A friend’s cat was particularly fond of frogs. He also brought back a live bat once, into the living room in the middle of a dinner party. Hey, guests are meant to bring something, aren’t they?

    R

  8. RFLong

    Or a crockery breaker!

    We’re still not sure how he managed it. The cat was basically a pygmy hippo with fur. The current theory is:

    bat flew into a tree and stunned himself.

    cat happened upon bat and thought, ‘well, I’m going to the dinner party anyway and now I won’t have to pick up a bottle of Chablis’.

    bat woke up on the carpet at my friend’s feet going ‘NO! You can’t serve white wine with red meat! What kind of savages are you?!

    I could go on, but that would just be silly. I’m in a very silly mood. I subbed a novel last night and my brain has not recovered yet.

    Possible that it never will…

  9. Chang

    Gah! My boy Georgie and his old housemate Millie would stake out the front of the fridge for a time. Just sitting there like a pair of Sphynx. I could never figure out why. Then I saw a wee gray thing dart out from behind it over to a cupboard.

    Not soon after I was walking through the dining room and stepped on something small. I looked down and saw the small gray thing. George walked by, sat down and looked up at me as if to say, “This is how you treat a gift? Jerk!”

  10. Mary Robinette Kowal

    RFLong: Congratulations on the novel sub! That’s nervewracking and momentous, so you have every right to be silly.

    Chang: Yeah, the only critter caught in my old house was a baby rat, which my cat thoughtfully left for me in the living room. I discovered it by stepping on it. In bare feet. With my parents visiting the house for the first time ever. Maggie also looked at me like I was a jerk.

  11. Laura Lee

    According to a vet I spoke to once, the easiest humane way to kill something like that at home is to put it in a container in the freezer. It gets cold, it gets sleepy, and then it dies. It’s not quick, particularly, but he said it was painless.

    (All knowledge gained because I found a baby mole that couldn’t have been more than a day or so old at the most with no way to save it. I was very, very sad.)

  12. Beth Kirk

    Its true. The freezer is the most humane. Maybe not the most sanitary… My vet gave me that solution for the same problem except mine was birds. The cats are having such a grand time but the poor hapless injured victims are not. We’ve used this technique with very ill fish as well. They just fall asleep. Very peaceful and easy to dispose of. Better than the chlorinated flush of death.
    The cats and I now have a firm agreement and are limited to hunting house spiders, big fat flies and worms. I think that is fair.
    beth

  13. Michele

    Mice are a problem in my area because often when people move out of houses they don’t clean up after themselves and neither does the owner. Houses staying empty for months is common, as are less than clean neighbors. Thank the gods for no homeowner’s association though.

    Luckily our cat has figured out how to kill them. Before we would put them in the toilet and use the plunger to drown them. Less messy than the hammer thing.