The other morning I woke up at 4:30am due to some cat-related kerfuffle, and could not fall back asleep. Finally at 6 I got up and thought I’d read a manuscript I had to work on. I made coffee and toast and went back to my room to discover two of the cats sniffing the remains of a dead mouse under my desk.
Now, I can’t read a book or watch a movie where anything bad happens to an animal. I can’t handle animals suffering. I’m still emotionally scarred by reading Where the Red Fern Grows–not to mention when a babysitter took me and my brother to that nice cartoon called Animal Farm. I don’t like nature, and find the whole Circle-of-Life thing deeply suspect. And I do not like dead animals. Nor potentially eviscerated ones. So I did what any right thinking person would do–dropped the coffee and toast, turned and fled the room, then sat on the couch and contemplated burning the house down.
Eventually, I tried to go back in the room but became certain the cats had drawn and quartered the thing and could not go in. This was a problem as I did have to go out later, and should probably not be dressed in my flannel sock monkey jammies when I did so. And my phone was in the bedroom, meaning I could not call my brother, my parents, 911, or the American embassy. Finally, my little boy woke up and I asked him to go into Mommy’s room to get the phone, which he did happily. (Yes, this is true. In my defense, I did feel guilty about it.)
I should be tying this to issues of craft. And when I started writing this, I was thinking about empathy and the writer, about how the same thing that allows us to imagine whole characters can make it hard to be in the world sometimes, or at least to keep one’s house free of rodentia. But last night I saw one of the cats staring intently under the oven, and so really I’m just hoping someone will volunteer to come in and take care of this for me.
At least your cats are motivated to go after the mice. Ours tend to yawn or else look expectantly at me when they hear the scratch of little rodent invaders beneath the stove or in the wall. ("Sounds like a mouse. More kibble, please.")
There are wonderful no-kill mouse traps, although some mice are too smart for them. (Dang you, former residents of NIMH.) When the no-kill traps do succeed, then you'll have to make sure that (a) your cats aren't on the scene to give the trapped mouse a heart attack, and b) you are prepared to orchestrate a full-proof rodent-relocation program. But it sounds as if you are not as bothered by *live* mice, yes?
Oh, Anne, your ability to take us right there in the visceral moment is stunning. I remember having to clean out all lower cabinets in our kitchen just weeks after my late husband had brain surgery. Such bad timing. Get a kind exterminator in – the cats can't be relied upon.
A cat I had once proudly brought me a dead mouse, trap and all. What could I say? Good catch, Taffy Cat.
Must be a sign your muse wants you to write a picture book.