Mouse mayhem and an unexpected dilemma
A commotion broke out in our kitchen.
A series of loud wooden bangs were followed by a scuffle and alarmed giggling. I hurried in to investigate.
Husband and daughter (the latter perched safely atop a kitchen counter, her feet drawn up) had their eyes fixed on the trash bin that was now pulled out from under the sink unit.
Theodore, our three-year-old Sacred Birman, stood on his hind legs with his front paws clawed to the edge of the bin. A canny gleam in his eye. Think Lucifer, the cat in Disney’s Cinderella. Then add drool and a thought bubble with a mouse-shaped skeleton inside it.
“Has he hurt it?”
“Not yet, it jumped in.”
Now. I know cats are predators and catching mice is a deep-rooted and well-evolved part of their feline DNA makeup, but meh. Not on my watch. It’s one thing to be presented with a bloody fait accompli, but it’s quite another to watch mouse murder in action. Fundamentally, I’m a bleeding heart; entirely lacking the magnificent impartial professionalism of wildlife photographers who allow nature to run its course. I’d no doubt be fired for cheering the zebra and tripping the lion.
And my family, of course, know this too. I was, after all, the one who once insisted the family detoured past an aquarium specialist shop to seek help for a very poorly fish and thereby grossly delayed our Midsummer celebrations. I never lived that down. My husband has a sneaky suspicion that the sorry cichlid didn’t either; he believes it was sent to…umm… sleep with the fishes before our car had turned the corner. But I don’t know that, do I?
However. I digress from the kerfuffle going on in the kitchen.
The human duo was grinning at my predictable consternation. Our dog, Jeffrey, watched the proceedings from under the table while Simon, Theo’s scaredy cat sidekick, dithered anxiously in the doorway. Catching mice isn’t his thing.
Realising help was not forth coming from any other quarter, and ignoring Theo’s yowl of protest, I lifted the cat aside and peered into the trash bin. A tail stuck out from under the trash bag. It wasn’t very long. But obviously had a mouse at the other end of it.
So being the Good Samaritan one is, I removed the trash bag then carried the bin and its terrified occupant out of the house and across the road to a grassy, weed-ridden ditch. I placed the bin on its side. All he had to do now was scurry into the undergrowth and disappear. Voilà. Mouse Mission accomplished.
But just when I thought his problems were ending, mine were beginning.
The mouse didn’t move.
I gently tipped him out. He took a few tentative steps and, horror or horrors, he was limping. Limping! Was he hurt? It would be cruel to return an injured animal to the suburban wild. He wouldn’t stand a chance.
My long-suffering husband sighed. “Now what?”
Now what indeed.
Standing in bare feet under the night stars, I considered my very few options. Skansen — Stockholm’s open-air zoo and museum? Closed. Regular veterinary surgeries would also be closed at this hour. The animal hospital south of the city? Bring him back in and try and keep him going until the vet opened? Theo would be beside himself all night.
“Well,” I said, truthfully. “I can’t leave it here and I can’t kill it.”
The imagined image of a small aquarium specialist shop hung in the air between us. One of us was no doubt thinking here we go again.
Then, bless his beating heart, the mouse started to head for the undergrowth. A slow hind-leg limp suddenly switched into an Olympian dash for cover. All four limbs miraculously intact.
I may have grinned smugly at my man.
And I shall never know whether the mouse had been scared so witless, its fear had initially hampered its mobility and survival instinct.
Or whether he was the best mouse actor since Mickey and had simply been checking his bearings before making his move.
Or what on earth I would have actually done with an injured field mouse snatched from the paws of a thwarted cat. What do you do?
But I do know that we’d both survived a narrow squeak and Theo needs another day job.