Sunday, 8 January 2012

Mouse tales. Not for the squeamish.

Our two cats look sweet but are fearless and ferocious.  Only last night Edwin (pictured above looking innocent) came charging in from the garden carrying a large worm.

Their exploits as hunters are trying to say the least.

A couple of months back, I felt uneasy about the vague whiff of death that seemed to be developing in our living room.  Sitting on the sofa drinking a cup of tea, it seemed to me that the general atmosphere lacked freshness.  I commented on this to my youngest daughter, to whom the problem was not immediately apparent.

“Come in,” said I.  “Come in properly and sit where I was sitting just there in the middle of the sofa, then I think you’ll – ”


Just on the verge of taking a seat she spotted what I had overlooked: a well dead mouse laid out just there adjacent to where I’d been sitting.  That explained the smell, then.

This last week, in the kitchen this time – the temporary kitchen which is not usually a kitchen at all and where consequently we also have a sofa – I sat down on the sofa sipping tea while I waited patiently for my porridge to cook. 

I happened to glance down at the cushion alongside me.  I should explain that our sofas are not simple affairs where a dead rodent would be immediately obvious, but muddles of multi-coloured throws and cushions and sheepskins.

“?” I thought.  “That’s . . . that’s a tail!”

Further investigation confirmed that the object beside me on the sofa was indeed someone’s tail – attached still to its now deceased owner, a dear little house-mouse with a pointy nose and sweet ears.  Extremely sad.

Then the day before yesterday I decided to tackle the Christmas Leftovers in the fridge.  Epiphany loomed on the horizon, and it seemed to me that some of that collection of bowls and plastic storage boxes must be due for a turn-out.

I started with the small plastic sealed tub of aduki beans sitting on the top shelf.  It had been there since before Christmas, I knew that much.  The wall of the tub allowed me to determine the contents but not verify the state of their condition: not until I removed the lid did the advancing glutinous grey-green slime enveloping the beans become apparent.  Right, then.  Into the compost bucket with them!

I also knew there to be a small bowl containing a portion of trifle at the back of the middle shelf.  I hooked it out.  Hmm.  Not actually rotting as such, but no longer appetising either.  I chucked that in the compost bucket with the aduki beans and the other various peelings already there.

Unable to avoid facing the truth that the noble thing to do would be take the bucket down the garden and empty it into the compost heap without further delay, I actioned the promptings of conscience, taking a spoon to scrape out the bucket into the big bin.

Even with the spoon, the bucket still exhibited slimy cling-ons, and I thought I’d better rinse it out with the rainwater in the watering can before taking it back into the house, given that our washing-up facilities are limited while the kitchen is in pupation.

So I grabbed the watering can and sloshed some rainwater accumulated therein into to compost bucket.  As often happens, the out-sloosh of water stopped because something blocked the spout.  Snails and dead leaves etc drop in sometimes, and gather blocking the spout when the can is used.  I put down the can, swished round the bucket, tossed the swill-water across the herb-bed and turned back to the can for a second lot of rinse-water.  “!”

“What the hey?!”

There, unmistakeably, from the spout, protruded a long grey-whiskered pink tail and a pair of feet!  Oh, my life!!

Nonplussed for a moment, I looked at the can.  Then it occurred to me that giving the remaining rainwater in it a mighty swoosh down the spout might eject the beast within like a kind of awful parody of birth.  This proved to be the case, and a small rat-ling was delivered upon the herb bed, where I buried it.

I tell you, it’s a white-knuckle ride living here in St Leonards!


365 Day 8 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

A fragrant beeswax candle.  Disposed of this in the obvious manner; very nice too.  So many objects end up like this, cluttering up drawers because I mean to put them to good use one day – but never get around to it.


Elin said...

I have heard many similar stories from my sister and her cats. I remember one where she detected an odour in the house but could not pinpoint from there. It turned out to be three dead ducklings under the daughter's bed... Yuk!

Ember said...


Ganeida said...

I have the *best* rat story ever. Liddy was complaining one night of the terrible smell in her room around her bed ~ & went so far as to accuse her little sister of emitting said smell. MIffed little sister stormed of in a huff. I also left taking the view there was no need to lay blame where no blame had been incurred. The smell remained.

Liddy began throwing her bedclothes off. Suddenly there was an almighty shriek. There, lovingly burried under all her pillows was a very dead rat! Not a mouse, no, but a big black rat. She carried on like a dervish while the cats smugly sat & watched!

Lid's fault. She had been hard loving our most ferocious hunter ever & she was showing her appreciation by sharing! Ew!!!

Ember said...

Aarrgh! Oh no!

Tonight we had one trapped under the piano, and had the dickens of a job getting it out - took two cats and three women in the end!

Buzzfloyd said...

Aaaaaargh! This is most helpful in enabling me to feel grateful that all I have to do is shovel up the neighbours' cats' poo from our garden. I'd rather clear up the neighbourhood litterbox than a rodent graveyard.

Ember said...

Even worse - imagine doing as we were this evening, and trying to flush out a live mouse from the hiding places in your living room! :0\

Hawthorne said...

Your cats certainly love you, Ember! ;-) Our two young cats have not been allowed out yet due to being new. Their hunting techniques are being honed by fishing used tissues out of the waste paper bin, and pouncing on fierce hair bobbles. They trot proudly off with their trophies and hide under the dining room table to attempt to dismember them. Goodness only knows what we'll find under there once they are allowed outside!

Ember said...


Yes - the best hunter of our two practised his skills as a kitten on small cushions of moss!

Lynda said...

My cats use to decapitate the mice before leaving them lying about the house :o)

Ember said...


Thorough, and impressive!

Julie B. said...

I enjoyed this post and everyone's comments too! Our Schnauzers are said to be ratters by virtue of their breed, and our Edith killed a rat years ago in our back yard. She shook it, killing it quickly and cleanly with no blood, then deposited it on our back step. When we opened the door to let her in, her expression said, "See? I've done a good job and brought you a gift!"

Also, one of the things I like about your blog and books are the things completely new to me I often find therein. Today's example: the phrase "while the kitchen is in pupation." I'm pretty sure only a writer would say something like that. Love it!

Ember said...

Sure it was Edith? Not her evil cousin Piggeth? x

kat said...

watch out when you put your wellies on - y'know that game they (the cats) have of throwing the deceased in the air just so they can chase them again - well .......

Ember said...