We got our cat Bella to catch mice and other vermin and she has been a phenomenally successful little hunter. When we lived in Georgia she killed mice, lizards and at least one rat. Here in Worcester, Massachusetts I’ve lost count of her mouse tally, but it’s in the double digits.
Bella’s hunting skills are great because mice really freak out my wife, Dana. And if I’m being honest, they give me the willies, too. I’m embarrassed by that, considering I grew up in a rural area, but I can’t just make myself not be creeped out.
When Bella catches one I’ve found I can handle scooting it into a small bucket, taking it outside and dropping it in the storm grate.
This is not necessarily a death sentence if the mouse is merely stunned when I get it in the bucket (Bella has killed them outright merely by pouncing on them) because they are great little swimmers; I tell myself I’m giving the little guys some kind of fighting chance they definitely wouldn’t have with Bella.
Tonight, Bella caught two mice in a row. The second she killed in the process of pouncing on it. By the time I had it in a small bucket (wearing thick, suede work gloves the whole time–told you they freaked me out) it was gone. It plopped in the brackish waters beneath the storm drain grate and floated there, motionless, another bit of refuse.
The first mouse, though–when I saw her with it, the mouse was cornered beneath a cabinet in the kitchen, all twitching whiskers and contained energy. Bella would swat it, stun it, and then it would recover and try to scamper away.
I trapped it beneath the overturned bucket. I put on the work gloves, and scooted it in the bucket. Then I called my 14-year-old daughter into the room and made her pull a couple of paper towels so I could cover the bucket and ensure the mouse didn’t spring out as I carried it downstairs.
I carried the mouse in the bucket down to the street. The night was warm and still, and headlights flashed far up the street. I crossed to the storm grate and upended the bucket.
The mouse slid out and hit the thick metal grate. It bounced, found its bearings and sprang onto the pavement, and it was gone, running as fast as its tiny legs could go.
Whatever vestigial hunter remains in my brain tracked it visually and for a moment I wondered if I should take a handful of long strides and stomp it flat, leave some message to the universe about the minor brutalities of man under the street lights.
I let it go. And as I walked back into the house I wished it well. I imagined it rushing across that vast expanse of black pavement towards the safety of shadows, wondered if it felt something like relief even as it fled.
I don’t want that mouse in my house, but tonight it is my hero.