It was a beautiful sunny morning and I sat in my recliner, sipping my tea, watching the birds at the feeder on my deck. Sauza, my cat, perched on the chair next to me, observing the bird’s coming and going intently. I leaned forward to reach for my teacup but something moving on the floor caught my eye. It was a tiny mouse, slowly making its way across the carpet towards the chair where Sauza was.
“Sauza! Mouse!” I cried. “Get the mouse!”
Sauza sat up and looked down to where my finger was pointing.
“IT’S A MOUSE! Are you blind?” I shouted. “Get the mouse!” By this time I was on my feet and the mouse had made his way under the chair.
Finally, after stretching leisurely, Sauza jumped down, sat, and focused his attention on the area under the chair. Within a few seconds, Mr. Mouse, continuing his single-minded journey, emerged and headed for the massive bookcase next to the fireplace.
“There he is! Get him!” I cried, ready to close my eyes against the carnage I expected to witness.
Mr. Mouse, in the meantime, completing his stroll, had disappeared under the bookcase.
In disbelief, I shook my finger at the mighty hunter. “BAD KITTY! You’re acting like a complete waste of fur!” Sauza blinked up at me with an innocent “What?” expression on his furry face. I narrowed my eyes at him. “No kitty treats for you tonight!” He turned his back on me and proceeded to smooth an errant whisker.
That evening, when I told my husband about the episode, he just shook his head. “Maybe mouse control wasn’t on his resume.”
“I wonder how the thing found his way in here,” I mused. “We’re not at ground level, you know. This is the second story and it’s a big house.”
Fred shrugged. “GPS?”
All evening I couldn’t stop thinking about Mr. Mouse, lurking there under the bookcase. How were we going to get him out of here? Then a terrible thought occurred to me:
My husband, concentrating on his laptop muttered, “Uh-huh?”
“What’s the poor thing going to eat? I mean, there’s no food lying around here. We keep things put away. I don’t want him to starve to death!”
Fred looked over at me with a raised eyebrow. “Let me get this straight—you want the cat to kill him but you don’t want him to starve to death?”
I chewed on my lip, considering. “No, I don’t want Sauza to kill him, I want him to catch him and turn him loose outside.”
“Right. Like that’s gonna happen,” Fred laughed. “At any rate, he’s not going to starve. There are plenty of crumbs and things around here for him to eat.”
I wasn’t buying it. As soon as Fred went up to bed, I put a peanut under the chair, back far enough so that Sauza couldn’t reach it. When I checked the next morning, the peanut was gone. This nightly offering became my guilty routine.
A few mornings later, I was back in my recliner, sipping my tea, watching the birds. Since it was an especially warm day, I had opened the deck door and Sauza was out basking in the sun. All was peaceful and quiet until I heard a sudden commotion and jumped up from my chair in time to see Sauza come racing into the kitchen…with a bird in his mouth. Shocked and dismayed I yelled, “Sauza! Drop that!” And to my surprise, he did. I snatched the tiny sparrow up from the floor and looked closely at it. No blood, thank God. But it wasn’t moving either. “I am SO sorry,” I told it before locking eyes on the cat. “BAD KITTY!”
Sauza looked offended.
“I hope you’re going to be okay,” I told the little bird.” Taking it outside, I set it down in a potted rosebush and watched from the window. It took a few minutes but finally the little sparrow took off.
I turned to the cat. “I hope you’re satisfied. He’s going to need therapy for YEARS,” I muttered. “You can’t catch a mouse strolling by but you can snatch a bird out of thin air? You’re fired! No kitty treats for you until you get your act together.”
Sauza turned his back on me and coughed up several feathers. As the days went by with no evidence of Mr. Mouse, except for the disappearing peanuts, I started to worry. “What if he’s got a girlfriend?” I asked my friend, Jeanette, “Well,” she suggested, “Maybe you could leave little tiny birth-control pills laying around with some literature on responsible family planning?”
Up until this point, my husband didn’t seem all that concerned about Mr. Mouse having taken up residency in our home, but that changed one evening when I was out. Hearing Sauza playing with one of his cat toys in the kitchen as he does, batting it around, throwing it in the air, then racing to catch it, Fred went in to watch the entertainment. It wasn’t a toy…it was Mr. Mouse that Sauza was throwing in the air and batting about. As Fred watched, the mouse went sliding across the floor, flipped over on his back, stuck his feet up in the air and assumed a very believable dead pose. Fred grabbed a paper cup, intending to scoop him up and take him outside, when Mr. Mouse suddenly flipped back over and raced out of the kitchen to points unknown.
“Get the mouse!” Fred yelled.
Sauza curled up on the rug and took a nap.
This morning, I woke and found Mr. Mouse dead on my bedroom floor.
“Oh geez,” I murmured. “I’m sorry, little mouse.” Looking him over I didn’t’ see any obvious wounds so I calmed myself for a moment with the hope that it might have been a suicide; that maybe he had been in a dysfunctional relationship. It was comforting to see that the little guy didn’t look underweight at least.
But then I was overcome by a sudden panic—what if it had been a peanut allergy? What if I had slowly murdered poor trusting Mr. Mouse, loading him up with poison night after night? But no, of course not, this was ridiculous—I was losing it.
The cat observed me with interest from the bed.
“Seriously,” I said, “You couldn’t have just escorted him in here and handed him to me?”
No comment forthcoming.
Sighing, I gathered Mr. Mouse’s little body into a wad of Kleenexes. Sauza watched, then meow/yawned an obvious question.
“I’m very conflicted about this,” I told him. “We’ll talk about the kitty treats later.”
The funeral will be on Saturday.