I ran, not walked, all over the house, upstairs, downstairs, checking behind every closed door, every closet, cupboard, expecting to see his little oxygen starved body curled beside a note scratched into a baseboard: I give up, help obviously isn’t coming… p.s. do NOT give Cuddles my bowl…
At this point Peter joined the search, shaving cream still on his face. He did a re-check of the basement while I did yet another circuit of the main floor.
Then I found him.
I called down to Peter. “I found him!”
“And??” He sounded cranky. As if I found him wasn’t quite enough info.
“He’s okay, he’s hunting something.”
We watched Jake pace around a basketful of fresh firewood and then, figuring whatever it was must be under there, we lifted it. As I ran out of the room I caught a glimpse of something running the other way.
Watching from the front hall through the glass of a closed door I saw Jake chase a mouse across the room and corner it near the kitchen where he then sat with his little cat arms crossed as if to say: think you’re smart doncha…what’s the big plan now, sucker?
You could tell that awful cat and mouse game was about to begin, where, instead of receiving a fast and clean, humane kill, the mouse gets batted and tossed and nipped and eventually has a heart attack while bleeding from the head. Which, by the way, Desmond Morris in Cat Watching tells me happens not because the cat is sadistic but because it’s not particularly sure of itself—so it’s essentially testing the waters. Either that or it isn’t all that hungry, in which case the hunt and kill instinct doesn’t click in but stays on permanent ‘hunt’ instead. This is the behaviour, in other words, of domestic rather than feral cats.
The mouse, at this point, was hunkered down, head low, trying to be inconspicuous I guess, hoping maybe to not look like such a scrumptious morsel.
Nice try, mouse.
After some serious staring and tail twitching, and before Peter could intervene, Jake grabbed Mouse and carried him across the room, set him down, presumably to begin the pummelling—at which point Mouse keeled over onto its side, little legs pointing east.
I turned my head as Peter scooped him with a yoghurt container and took him outside. Meanwhile Jake, who loves and trusts us and would never dream we’d take away his mouse, assumed the thing had escaped and continued to look for it. Like Desmond Morris said, there’s a difference between feral and domestic kitties…
I went back in to console and thank Jake. He seemed so tired, must have been stalking the thing all night, for which I’m still very grateful. Only doing what he’s meant to do. Even so, more than a slight pall hung over things what with the demise of poor Mouse who was also only doing what he was meant to do.
And that would normally be that, except you can’t have a Once Upon a Morning story without a Happy Ending…so, yes, there’s more.
There’s Jake’s version of ‘happy’, where he got extra portions of treats for being a good mouse catcher—and then there’s everyone else’s, which is that the mouse was only playing dead. Peter said that when he went to scoop it, the little varmint got back to its feet and tried to run away and that when he let it go outside, Mouse let out a long, grateful sigh and headed, smiling, and at lightning rodent speed, toward the cedar hedge.
“I don’t get it—it was there one minute, and then…”