We had a little mouse problem. Mornings would find our kitchen counters littered with mementos from the night’s visitors. Yeah – gross. My studio became haven to a particularly up-and-coming colony of mice who chose only the nicest of fabrics to build their nests in and the beginning of any new project was usually heralded by a cascade of teeny-tiny seeds stashed away for winter. In The Boy’s room, a scuttling could be heard from above in the wee hours of the night. From our bedroom, too, a flurry of activity from WHERE, exactly!? could be heard almost nightly in that groggy period of drifting off to sleep.
Something had to be done. The Mouse Trap Setter could not keep up, what with his day job and all, and we were running out of peanut butter to bait the traps with. Those mice were getting wise to the traps anyhow.
The last straw came when Andrew pulled out the second dead mouse from the exhaust system of his car. The first, along with its nesting materials, was yanked out by professionals last winter after the car’s fan mysteriously started acting up. It was quite a bill the rodents incurred, but they nevertheless remained in a sort of grace period, whereby we only tried to kill them intermittently. (not because we were granting periodic clemency; we were busy) After this second mouse, however, Andrew and I uttered two sentences we never thought we’d utter together. Maybe we need a cat, I said. I’ve actually been thinking the same thing, said he.
And with those very words the ironclad, cemented-in, kevlar-wrapped, bullet-proof, wind-resistant ban on cats was lifted. Just like that. Never mind the fiercely uttered, I-don’t-care-how-much-our-daughter-who-will-probably-have-me-otherwise-wrapped-around-her-finger-wants-a-cat NEVER! promises that were made and repeated like a mantra. Never mind that a voting majority of the house is allergic to cats and their dermatitic baggage. (Sneeze Cats are what we call them) Never mind that, in a game of choosing sides, we’d unequivocally and triumphantly march to the side of Dog People without a moment’s thought and start making lists on why we thought dogs were superior. Never mind any of that. The ironclad ban had a loophole: the Barn Cat Mouser clause.
Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to our two kittens.
This is Cat Stevens, a handsome tiger named by Daddio. Of course.
This is Ruby, a sweet girl named by Isadora, with some name suggestions from Momma.
There are two of them because I believe in pairs of animals, at a minimum, for companionship. They live in our basement, as we’re found lacking a barn at the moment, and the basement is where they currently spend all of their time tracking and eating mice. Which is perfect, I think, because the basement must be the gateway for them all. There is the occasional (forbidden) foray upstairs when the doors are ajar and the pugs are negligent sentries at the top of the stairs. And there are great plans to restore the dog door in the basement to grant them unlimited access to the outdoor mouse population. Read: garage.
Even as smallish, young kittens, they’ve already proven their worth in the disposal of two mice that we happened to see – many more that we’ve not? If I may be so bold, I think we all love having them – they’re sweet and soft and not yet sneezy. As for our list of ‘why we dislike cats,’ we have plans to prevent them from ever procreating, (so we shall not be contributing to the glut of unchecked animals) we hope to bring down the stench of the litter boxes by letting them outside and more diligent cleaning, (my fault) and think we can keep the sneezes to a minimum by quarantining them to the basement. We’re also allergic to mice, we’ve learned, so basement sneezing will persist. Sneeze Cats are of course more cheerfully tolerated than Sneeze Mice.
Should the moment come, however, when one of our cats is seen terrorizing any member of the outdoor bird population, native or poultry, we will have to immediately reconsider the Feline Truce. Fair warning.