Yep, we have mice. And, if you have an older home, there’s a good chance you do too.
We knew about the problem well before we ever closed on the house. Our inspector said he spotted what looked like mice burrows in the attic insulation. At the time we didn’t think anything of it—Kelly remembers growing up hearing mice in the walls of her childhood home. Plus we have Pepper, so course mice wouldn’t be a problem, right?
Our two-year-old cat is a ferocious panther, capable of terrible, unspeakable things when her claws haven’t been clipped. Her terror is matched only by her inherent cat-like schizophrenic personality—when she’s on, she’s really on!
The second hint (after our inspector and once we’d moved in) that mice could be an issue was when I found two of them hiding out in a left-behind trash can in the basement. Seeing something move in the dark corner of your basement is never fun, and I was actually relieved to find out it was mice rather than something more sinister.
After that, it was only a matter of time before we encountered a mouse running around the main floor of our house. And, in less than a month, we had contact—or at least Pepper did.
I was sitting on the living room couch finishing up some work while Kelly got ready for bed. The cat was perched on her chair (if you follow us on Twitter or Instagram, it’s basically the only place she’s ever photographed). Her ears perked up and I watched as she slowly made her way, inching lower to the ground with each step, toward her food bowl across the room and around the corner. When she was about five feet away, she stopped, considered the situation, and pounced.
Then all hell broke loose. Mice are fast, and unlike the way she plays with her toy stuffed mice, they don’t just sit there and let you beat them around. The little mouse bolted across the room, ran under our bedroom door and into the closet. Pepper gave chase, but working five seconds of exploring the closet floor, she look up at me, wondering when I’d pick up the hidden play thing and throw it across the room for her to chase.
It was at that moment that I realized how utterly useless our cat had become as a real hunter.
Kelly grew up with cats and I’d heard stories of how they would venture outside only to return with a chipmunk or bird playing dead in their mouths. They never really harmed anything, but they would catch the animal nonetheless. Pepper is not Kelly’s childhood cats. After two years in the city, the only house vermin she was familiar with were the the fake mice we bought at the pet store. They moved only when we threw them and, contrary to the best advice (cat trainers say you should make the toys mimic the motions of the animals they look like), she now believes they can fly (seriously, watching your cat jump into the air is a lot more fun than watching them chase something across the floor).
Although Pepper had lost her first mouse, we sort of assumed that the mouse would be too afraid of the cat to return, so we went to sleep. Within what felt like minutes, we heard commotion in the bathroom. I jumped up and turned on the light, only to find that Pepper had cornered the mouse, and it wasn’t moving. I looked around and couldn’t find any evidence that it was hurt, and so concluded it was frozen with fear. I grabbed a cup, scooped up the mouse and transferred it to a more appropriate location outside the house.
I’m sure the mice will return (and in fact we found new evidence this evening), but next time, we’re hoping that they’ll stay far away from the cat, meaning they’ll stay far away from us.