His Name Isn't Mickey, So He Isn't Welcome Here

>> Thursday, April 29, 2010

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you have probably stumbled on the fact that I am not ... exactly ... a fan of mice unless they happen to be named Mickey and live in Orlando, Florida.  For the full story of mice (and a practical joke played on me by Entropy), see here.  That post is a long one, so let me summarize it for you.

I bought a house (this one) that was occupied by, among other people and creatures, a very large dog and a large family of mice.  The dog and its owners left quietly, but the mice refused to move despite the posted eviction notices.  Even after the spiders and other creepy crawlies had (mostly) departed, the mice remained, and we, the unwilling landlords, had to get tough.  The mice left, one way or another.  The end.

Because we live in a bizzarely rural part of a major metropolitan area, we have since employed a couple of outdoor cats as door guards to help ensure that the mice family didn't return or invite it's mafia brethren to take a swing at us in some kind of blood feud.  Somewhat later, we added the dynamic duo of indoor hunting pals Big Black Cat and Girl Cat.  (See here, for Big Black Cat's prowess in defeating bath toys and candy canes.)  Even later, Houdini snuck inside.  Life has been good.  Furry, but good.

Then, apparently, I made two mistakes.  First, I wished for a night when I could sleep in a bed without having to share it with cats (and without the guilt of locking them away 'cause I'm softhearted that way).  Then, when our contractor commented that our old garage door had a big gap and he was surprised we didn't have a lot of mouse problems, I said, "Aw, no problem!  We haven't had a mouse since we got the outside cats."

I guess tempting fate is never really wise.  Apparently, neither is replacing a garage door, replacing all holes in sofitting, fully replacing all gutters and installing an underground water pumping system, all at the same time.  Sure, we are finally waterproof, and the gentle spring rains will no longer carve deep rivets into our yard, pour into our basement, or erode our foundation.  These are good things.  Apparently not giving the local woodland creatures notice that the neighborhood was being developed and they might want to move was a bad idea.

Yes, yes, I'll finally come out and say it.

We ... have ... a ...m-m-m-m-mouse ... in the house ... again.

At times like these, I desperately hope that Douglas Adams was wrong about mice being super-intelligent pan-dimensional beings.  I just don't want that sort of crime on my conscience.

We had our first clue earlier this week that something wasn't right, but we failed to understand the significance.  We had a little ... funk ... around the house.  We even complained about it, but, like many pet owners and small children owners, we blamed the wrong source.  In hindsight, that was dead mouse in the wall, I'm sure.  There really isn't any smell quite like it, no matter how much we try to blame it on other things.  (You know that "old house" smell?  That's it, except it isn't old house, it's dead mouse.  We just tell each other it's "old house" so we don't have to think about the dead mice rotting away somewhere.)

Well, that was pleasant ... okay, not.

Our second clue was a little more obvious.  Darling Husband caught Girl Cat toying with something alive that he described as a "very big black bug thing."  This "toying" was going on in our bedroom, no less.  I never saw it, but DH said he saw no tail, and Girl Cat let it scamper away and disappear, hopefully to go where all icky crawly bugs go when they don't come back.

Last night, though, we got the clue that was hard to ignore.  I came up the stairs, and Girl Cat was worrying something behind the bookshelf in the hallway.  She had "that look".  I've never seen it before last night, but I just knew that she had something big trapped behind that bookshelf.  This was no bug.  I yelled down to DH that Girl Cat was acting funny.  He came up, looked at her, and said, "Yeah.  She has been doing that for at least an hour."  While we were talking, she got up, walked to the other side, and began pawing underneath, only to walk back to the end where she could peer in. 

Yes, as much as we wanted to deny it, something was back there.  I tilted this (very tall, twice my height) bookshelf back about a half a centimeter.  The bookshelf is very cheap, so I could move it by simply flexing the fake wood.  Nothing ran out, so DH and I spent a few moments fooling ourselves.  "It can't be a mouse.  A mouse would have made a run for it when I moved the bookshelf."  We both agreed.

So, DH felt a lot more comfortable with the idea of muscling the bookshelf out a little further.  I was on the floor, with my eyeball pressed to the wood again, trying to peer under with a flashllight, and I had a creepy feeling that if we were wrong, some creepy thing was going to come running right at my head.  So I asked him to wait just a moment while I got up.  For added comic effect, our flashlight kept flicking off.  Anyway, DH moved the bookshelf a little bit, and Girl Cat promptly wedged herself in further so we couldn't see anything past her furry backside.

Finally, she agreed to step back and let DH take a look.  He laid himself down and peered with the flickering flashlight a long time, before he said, "Yep.  There it is.  A mouse."  Thne he got up.  Girl Cat resumed her  sentry duty while we discussed what to do.  We had all the stereotypical tools, like a broom and a bag.  We also had a bucket and a pole.  Of course, I'm never sure what we're going to do with any of these things, since I've never known anyone to successfully trap a mouse with a broom.  Ever.  (And yet we continue to try.)

I tried to bring Big Black Cat as a backup, but he would have none of it.  Usually he and Girl Cat hunt together ... at least when they are attacking insects that fly in during the summer, but he was all about running downstairs last night.  Houdini is scared witless of Girl Cat, so I didn't even try.

So, DH stuck a poking stick under the bookshelf with one hand, while holding the broom in the other, hoping to grab the little sucker in the bristles.  Of course, the little snot makes a run for it.  I think DH might have actually had a shot if it weren't for Girl Cat being underfoot.  She wanted the mouse, and she ran for him, but then she saw the broom coming and backed away, while DH stopped the broom because he didn't want to hit Girl Cat.  I felt like maybe I was watching a junior high baseball game when someone forgot to yell, "I GOT IT!"

In the meantime, the mouse took advantage of the confusion and headed straight to the guest room and vanished.  After a few moments of fruitless searching, I returned to my quest for a bath and bed.  I was having flashbacks about my earlier experiences with mice, and was sorely regretting ever agreeing to watch even the five minutes of Spike's 1000 Ways to Die that I forced myself to sit through.  The subject was death by rats.  Right.  So sorry I watched that.

I left the guest room door open all night, figuring if the mouse didn't find another way out, one of the cats would corner it again.  Besides, they love that room because they aren't allowed in it, so I knew they'd at least pretend look to appease me so they could stay there for the night.  In turn, I had the night mostly free of furry creatures on my feet.  From time to time they would appear and snooze, but most of the time they were pretending to hunt down the hall.  As you might imagine, I was a restless sleeper last night.

I got my bed back ... but what a price!


Dazee Dreamer April 29, 2010 at 10:08 AM  

All I can say is. Yuk. I hate mice. I applaud you for even looking under the book shelf. I would not have done that, nor slept at all. Or walked on the floor. Can you say terrified. That's me. Loved the post, even tho I had that sick feeling going through me as I read it.

Juliette April 29, 2010 at 1:08 PM  

That is a GREAT story! Very funny (but only because it's you, not me). But I'll make you an offer -- I'll trade you the mouse for the snakes our tomcat likes to bring in the house!

Karin Kysilka May 5, 2010 at 1:09 PM  

Hey, Juliette, okay ... no. Not okay. You keep those snakes, thank you very much. Mice are yucky, but snakes are ... snakes. I would have to move - immediately.

Karin Kysilka May 5, 2010 at 1:09 PM  

Dazee Dreamer, how do you feel about Camel Crickets? he, he, he. I should develop a label for "bugs and other critters that try to live in my house."

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