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01 April 2010 @ 12:33 am
There are mice in my house.

This is hardly a surprise. We’re surrounded by both woods and and open fields. The winter has been, by turns, bitterly cold and brutally snowy, so anything that might’ve wanted to make its way indoors had extra incentive. And, of course, we live in a wee tilty house with plenty of places where critters can sneak inside. All manner of critters. Mice. Shrews. Horrifying numbers of monster-crickets. Garter snakes. Chipmunks.*

But back to the mice. A few weeks ago, I woke in the wee hours to the sound of growling beneath the bed. Now Handsome Tom has, as you may recall, a history of bullying the older girls should they venture outside of their respective closet hidey-holes; it was a natural assumption that he’d cornered one of them. A quick glance confirmed he was not in his usual place at our feet. I rolled over and hissed, “Tom! Knock. It. Off,” as if that would have any effect. Hey, it was three in the morning. Best my brain was going to offer. The growling continued. I slid out of from beneath the covers, flailed around until I found the flashlight and peered beneath the bed. Much to my surprise, there was Esme. She and Tom get along well; when he plays too rough she simply bails. Here, though, she was hunched over, growling with increased ferocity, as HT stared at her from a good two feet away.

By this time, Don had stirred. “whassgoinnonn.”

I opened my mouth to say, “Tom is bothering Esme,” but at that very moment, she turned her head toward me. Her strange, puffy-wriggly mouthed alien head. I blinked my sleepy eyes, willing them to focus. Her mouth wasn’t puffed out. It was full. It was full of, “Mouse. It’s a mouse. Don. Don, she has a mouse.”

Don stumbled out of bed as I flicked on the light. “getttthhheccup” he said, but I was already on my way. Esme’s growling had ceased. Her tail was flicking back and forth.

“Tell her she’s a good girl!” I called over my shoulder, bare feet slapping against the cool wood floor. The cup and cardboard - my go to implements of catch-and-release - were on the kitchen counter. I grabbed them and made my way back to the bedroom in time to see a tiny gray form dart beneath my night stand. Esme leapt out, hard on its heels. HT remained where he was, eyes fixed beneath the bed. The mouse ran along the back wall, then raced past the doors that lead to my office. Esme bounced over the bed to light down just ahead of the racing mouse. She casually reached out a single paw, pinning the mouse once more. I plopped the cup over the mouse, slid the cardboard underneath, and carried it outside.

Back in the bedroom, Esme was prancing around, tail puffed out, ready for praise. HT continued to stare underneath the bed.


I see something! I’m on it! I’ve got this!

We’d hoped this was the end of it, but a couple of days later, Esme once again bounded into our bedroom with a tiny grey creature in her mouth: a baby, this time. Seems her first capture had been Mama Mouse, and her eviction had left the babies orphaned and alone.


we love you, Mama! hurry back to us!

Esme, keen hunter that she is, felt no remorse.


mmmm! Your Mama was DELICIOUS!

Don and I tried to locate the nest. We could hear chirping when we stood in the basement, but wherever the babies were, we couldn’t reach them. Esme, though, was focused. She was relentless.


Intense kitty is intense.

Since the initial capture, there have been several others. One she brought back to the bedroom, another to the top of the water heater. Neither of these had a reasonable prognosis of recovery. The baby she brought into my office seemed undamaged, but there was a trace of blood on the cardboard, and it was cold and rainy when I released it outside. It might have been kinder to smash it under my heel, but... I couldn’t. Can’t. Just... no. Then tonight Esme pranced about with a wee, dark grey baby in her mouth. I praised my one-eyed kitty for her hunting prowess even as I took the tiny body from her, picked it up by the tail and threw it into the woods. And then I burst into tears, because I am a bleeding heart idiot. When I came back in, Esme snuggled her head beneath my chin, purring and proud and doing her best, as she always does, to cheer me up when I am sad.

I know mice are vermin, and I really do NOT want them living in my house, but it breaks my heart a bit each time I have to dispatch one that is dead or - worse yet - dying. It doesn’t help that as I was looking for images to include in this post, I chanced upon some lovely NIMH art .


Mrs. Frisby gathers food for her children.... only in my world she’s NEVER GOING TO RETURN

Guh. I can't even begin to grasp how I'm going to deal with the looming squirrel troubles.

*Did I not tell you about this? It happened last summer, and it was the stuff of situation comedies. Suffice it to say Don and I had warring ideas as to how to liberate the chipmunk that had made its way into his closet. Things grew tense. Shoes were flung about, though not at one another. We discovered that closing the bedroom door would do nothing for stopping anything smaller than a whistle pig. HT thought he had it under control (he did not; he spent a good twenty minutes staring at the kindling box after the chipmunk was back outside) and Esme was a veritable guided missile, though she was very put out when we did not let her keep her prey.
Cattomincloset on April 1st, 2010 05:09 am (UTC)
Esme is a mighty huntress. I think she could have a future in the Secret Service.
Kelladyjoust on April 1st, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
She needs her own theme song. And possibly an action movie montage.
Josh Shainejoshwriting on April 1st, 2010 05:31 am (UTC)
If I share this tale with my wife, I suspect we will never get a cat.

You tell the tale well, and we sympathize with your own sentiments on the topic.

Esme sounds delightfully dangerous!
Kelladyjoust on April 1st, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC)
In the interest of happy kitty ownership, don't tell her!

Esme sounds delightfully dangerous!

An apt description. She's also the sweetest cat I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. I call her my sunshine-and-rainbows girl.
Andrewquueer on April 1st, 2010 06:41 am (UTC)
Each and every morning I wake up to something scratching inside the wall by my head. It's very definitely larger than a mouse. It's very definitely more than one thing. But, eh, it doesn't seem to eat much.
Kelladyjoust on April 1st, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC)
So long as it isn't chewing through wires or causing unpleasant smells, I expect you can continue a peaceful coexistence.

Janetgoodnite_gracee on April 2nd, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
I actually think that mice through walls appear larger than they are in real life. I've got mouse or mice in my attic space. It just so happens that they like to scurry and chitter right around Steven's bedtime AND right over his bed. It has been suggested that I leave the attic open and allow the cats free reign, but I haven't the nerve, or the heart.
Kel: biting kittyladyjoust on April 2nd, 2010 03:32 am (UTC)
I couldn't do it either.

Fjordhopper: Shinyfjordhopper on April 1st, 2010 09:12 am (UTC)
I love your writing!!

Love hearing about kitty exploits and even more so when you do it with so much style!!!
Kelladyjoust on April 1st, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
You're too kind, m'dear.
Zoë Tzoethor on April 1st, 2010 10:49 am (UTC)
Seriously, you need to write a book about your life and cats.

Also, I'm amused by HT, the mighty hunter. :) It seems so apropos that he's terrible at it.
Kelladyjoust on April 1st, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
Mayhap, one of these days. It just don't have a hook for it; it's just "stuff my cats do that I talk about more than most people care to hear." :P

And I adore that about HT. Remember how he stalked a bear? And deer? I am convinced he was totally bluffing, showing off for us so that we'd love him more and bring him inside. To his credit, it worked.
formerlyfbformerlyfb on April 1st, 2010 12:36 pm (UTC)
Clio hunts the way HT does. Do you thing Esme would give lessons? We average a squirrel a year coming down our chimney. At least I've learned how to deal with them. But the one year that we had the bats coming in...

Kelladyjoust on April 1st, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
My mom's cat, who clearly has a bit of Esme to her, caught three bats.

It's so funny to me that certain cats just have the skill. I don't know where Esme got it; she's been indoors (and the early part of that in cages) her entire life. Don thinks her bad eye is really cybernetic.
harpiegirl4: kitty lickharpiegirl4 on April 1st, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)
I love your bleeding heart. I used to have pet mice as a kid, and I know EXACTLY how you feel!
Kelladyjoust on April 1st, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks, sweetie. And I'm not surprised we're in tune on this!
plainandbonnyplainandbonny on April 1st, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
I completely concur with the conflicted-mouse feelings. Don't want them in my bedroom, don't want them in my closet, don't want to be responsible for furry squeaking death, either.

My cats look fearsome through their sheer fluffitude, but I doubt they could catch more than a particularly apathetic spider.
Kelladyjoust on April 1st, 2010 09:54 pm (UTC)
All of the other cats - Handsome Tom included - fail at catching anything more daunting than a piece of string. I don't know what it is about Esme. She's sort of amazing.
Aifacat: Emma!aifacat on April 2nd, 2010 02:22 am (UTC)
GO ESME! Grrlzzz Rule!
(Anonymous) on April 15th, 2010 11:11 am (UTC)
I am glad to here that you can't kill the mice. I can't either. They are alive and have as much right to life as we!

Love your blog! Just discovered it.