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Not For The Squeamish...Kittenz!

If you're squeamish about cats and their hunting habits, I do not recommend that you click through to read the rest of this post. Cats hunt and cats kill on Walkabout Farm. These are not your pampered pets. Well, they are, but they're expected to pull their weight in rodent control, too. If my cats didn't hunt, I'd be overrun with field mice in the house. This is a fact. We were overrun with them before Mrs. Gaines moved in almost six years ago. It was awful finding mice feces in closets, seeing them run boldly across the floor in front of you. Mice are disease vectors, as my sister likes to say. I'm all for mice when they stay outdoors. They're cute and they're funny. The Dude has rescued several from the cats outside (including the Mouse King) and we've kept them as pets for a while, sent them in to school. But they don't stay outdoors. So I like hawks, snakes, and cats that do their job and keep the rodent population down.

So, seriously, what's behind the cut will seem very dark to some folks.

My boss, back when I worked in an office, used to shudder every time he thought about cats vs. dogs. He would point out how cats play with their prey as an example of their cruelty. He was a dog person. To me, it's the cat's nature. They're hard-wired to go after things that move. It might be a toy, it might be the real thing, but if it moves, if it goes around a corner where they can't see it anymore, they can't stand it.

The Dude's biggest fear with respect to the two new kittenz is that they will not be mousers because they were taken from their mom-cats and raised by humans in a shelter. The mom-cats were feral and were spayed and released. Weatherdude firmly believes that a mother cat teaches her kittenz to hunt. I'm not so sure of that piece of folklore because Mrs. G was hard-wired to go after things. A shrew was loose in E's bedroom when she was still a kitten and that was her first kill. We obligingly moved furniture to expose it, but she did all the work herself. And has had continued success since then. (The birds hate her.) Goliath has similar wiring and he's 13 now. No sign of him being too old to hunt, but he does spend more time sleeping than when he first arrived. PD also hunts, but more casually now that he's 12. As for Thomas, well, if you've seen his photo you know that his main job is as a bruiser, a lover, and a sleeper. For a 5 year old cat, he's useless as anything but warmth. His only self-appointed task is to stand off other strays from his food dish. (We thought he would be the worst with the kittenz, but he's turned out to be the easiest. He coos at them.)

So anyway. Sunday evening entertainment Chez Walkabout. We've finished dinner. Cats are going in and out through the dining room glass door. We can't leave it open because the kittenz are loose. Goliath comes in, wanders off. This is not unusual because he REALLY hates the kittenz. He avoids them. At that time, the kittenz were sleeping off a feast in the pantry, having licked out the big kids' food dishes. Last seen, they were pig-piled together near the food. Which, one is certain, would not suit Goliath.

Kittenz appear. Mrs. Gaines appears. She's tolerating the kittenz now. And then Goliath reappears. But he is not alone. Goliath clearly has a small mouse in his mouth, which means he caught it in the house. Commotion ensues because we can see it's still alive. It's excessively annoying when one of the cats just drops (and then loses) a live mouse. Because eventually they get bored and forget what they were doing.

Goliath walks into the dining room (a cat walks into a bar...) and is not sure if he wants to take his mouse outside to enjoy it in peace. Goliath lets out a meow and drops the mouse on the dining room floor. We immediately deduce that the stupid mouse bit him on the lip and The Dude dives for the loose mouse. Goliath will have nothing more to do with the mouse, walks away in disgust. Leaving a very active mouse, four humanz, two kittenz, and Mrs. Gaines.

Weatherdude has done the mouse thing many times in the past seven years. He's fished them alive and swimming out of our kitchen sink and placed them back outdoors. He's rescued them from cats. He's the Chief in Charge of Dead Mouse Disposal (TM). He's got an athlete's reflexes and speed. And an uncanny cat-like mind for where the mouse will try to move. He grabs the mouse in a napkin. (The mouse is not happy about this.)

Weatherdude goes into mom-cat teaching mode. (This is the sort of thing he does, part of his charm, a boyishness that has kept me around for more than 30 years.) He offers the mouse, securely held in the napkin, to both of the kittenz. They are unsure what is going on. They clearly don't know what to do, despite trying to eviscerate several toy mice for the past week or so. He offers the mouse to Mrs. Gaines, but she isn't interested in Goliath's leftovers. Goliath is nowhere to be found.

Meanwhile, Miss E has suddenly and inexplicably decided she is squeamish about mice. (!) She can't stand the idea that there are mice in the house. She pulls her feet up and pushes back against me. I am, of course, egging The Dude on, with several caveats to keep the mouse from getting under various pieces of furniture. Maralton is also offering advice from her chair at the table.

Weatherdude loses the mouse in trying to get a kitten interested and then grabs it by the tail still using a napkin. He dangles it in front of Mrs. G and the kittenz, up close and personal to each one. This begins to have the desired effect because the mouse is moving still, incensed at being held upside down. Kittenz are alert. They begin to bat at it. It swings back and forth in an interesting way.

The Dude puts the mouse on the floor and Doodledorf decides it's time to Chase A Mouse. After a few abortive starts, Doodledorf is growling away merrily and warning all others to keep their distance. And eventually Doodledorf begins to act like a cat and pounce and strike and do cat things. At about this point, Maralton has the sense to get her camera, which reminds me to get mine.

It's all Doodledorf's game with Mrs. G and Ozzie watching. Goliath enters at one point, but isn't motivated to intervene, though he still remembers it's his mouse. And at another point, Doodledorf decides to retire to her lair with her prey and we try to herd her back into the dining room which has fewer places to lose a mouse.

Then she flips the mouse in the air and it lands two feet away. Doodledorf then uses her nose to try and find the mouse, but in the wrong place. The mouse is not exactly lively any more, though it's still alive. It landed near Mrs. G, but she just stares. However, Ozzie does figure out where the mouse is and gets it. And then another round of photos with Ozzie growling and learning what to do with the real thing. Ozzie also tries to take off to parts unknown and is herded back into the dining room.

And then, at long last, after a mouse's lifetime of entertainment, The Dude rescues what's left of the mouse and disposes of it. Meanwhile, the kittenz have all kinds of smells they're investigating, all over the dining room floor. Yeah. Cruel. But The Dude makes one great mom-cat and someone has to do it.

Even as I wrote this up this morning, Mrs. Gaines came in from outside (door is open, kittenz are still in bed) and dropped a very dead mouse on the floor. Just to show she still has it.

And now, the photos...OMG, there are 18 photos!

See above, camera comes out when Doodledorf has the mouse...


More Doodledorf cornering the mouse by the glass door.


Shot Showing Doodledorf's Form...


Doodledorf growls at Mrs. G and warns her off...(she's probably thinking that she taught Doodle's grandmother to suck eggs.)


Doodledorf watched by Ozzie, The Dude, and Mrs. Gaines.


Another shot of Doodeldorf's Form.


The barn shoes make an obstacle course where a kitten can lose a mouse.


Doodledorf has flipped the mouse and it's gone. Nowhere around the shoes at all. But Mrs. G knows where it is.


And now Ozzie knows where it is too...


It's Ozzie's turn to growl now.


Doodledorf has not figured out what happened to the mouse.


There is just not that much room in a kitten brain for deductive reasoning.


Moving along, shots of Ozzie's form...


And another...


And another...


Somewhere around this time, Goliath passes through.


At this point, it's Ozzie who wants privacy, but The Dude is ready to head her off.


The mouse is really not very lively or interesting at this point, but Ozzie was still growling over it, right up to the point where The Dude disposed of it. They spent a while smelling for it.


Frog Out
The family has been asking me if this post is up yet. I don't think they realize it takes me a couple of hours to do one like this, writing and reformatting photos. I'm exhausted. Nap time.

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Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
tcastleb
Aug. 31st, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC)
Cool. I enjoyed that. Thanks. :>)
kelly_yoyo
Aug. 31st, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC)
You do what you have to do if you want mousers to learn their jobs. Good for you, says I. It's the way of farm life.
hyperbard
Aug. 31st, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
Omigod! It's lots and lots of Cute Little Vicious Creatures! Awwww...

Doodledorf, your Maine Coone, looks almost exactly like my Moku, except he's a tad fuzzier*G* He hunts cockroaches and any bug with the audacity to come into the house, but he's smart enough not to try and eat 'em. Dad, though, has a mess of cats, all of whom are taught to be hunters when really young (which is why, he tells me, Moku who we got from him goes nuts whenever there's a frog in our porch after rain... apparently the mother has a habit of bringing froggies in for her kittens to play with)!
safewrite
Sep. 1st, 2009 03:22 am (UTC)
Mousers are the BEST. I have one. She manages to be cute and fierce at the same time.
hyperbard
Sep. 1st, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
*G* That's what my dad says about his cats... I think Moku's still trying to be one -- I swear, we've decided if we ever move into a place that has a mouse problem, well that'll be dealt with fast. The only problem is Moku's also got a thing for hiding his "prey" (aka toys), so we're worried he'd do it to a live-soon-to-be-dead creature he catches!
annpendragon
Sep. 2nd, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
Your old man as a mama cat is hilarious and oh so familiar. My fiance had it in his head when we got our first shared cat (my bazillionth and his first), that he had to do more than just show the cat the litter box and put the cat in the litter... No, he didn't do that!

Jim sat there with the kitty (Napoli) and scratched around in the cat litter, till Napoli's supper finally digested and he took a dump. Personally I think the cat just wanted the crazy man to leave him alone.

We took Napoli in when he was about 3 months old and he's sucessfully broken through a screen door twice to kill two ground squirels and a few toads. I dont think some cats need to be taught how to be blood thirsty killers. It's a instinct some have stronger than others. Like common sense in people...

catthings
Sep. 4th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
Unexpected kills.
My cats hadn't brought any mice home for a very long time but a couple of weeks ago I got up and found two of them dead on the landing.

I'm not normally squeamish but the thought that I could have trodden on them with with my bare feet in the night made me feel a little giddy.

I once found a dead mouse in my slipper, I don't know if it was dead before I put my foot in it... I don't think I've gotten over it yet.
birdhousefrog
Sep. 4th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Unexpected kills.
Oh, ewwwwww, that is the pits, stepping on a dead mouse barefoot! I think they do it on purpose. We're so dense, we might miss it if they don't put it right in our path to the bathroom or kitchen.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )