A few nights ago Tristan, otherwise known as The Red Head, decided that 5 am was the perfect time to catch a mouse outside, bring it in to tell us about it and let it go in the lounge room, bringing any hope of my getting more sleep to an end. Despite Tristan's early morning start; we've discovered that all three cats are not morning people. Graeme got up to put Tristan and his catch outside (he knew if I got up I'd try to rescue the mouse), words were exchanged between man and cat (the mouse had no say in the discussion), Tristan with his mouth full at first. When he put his mouse down to speak more clearly the mouse took off. There was a lot of insults being traded between Tristan and Graeme, centreing on who was the more responsible for the escaped mouse, then Tristan decided that kibble in a bowl was worth two mice under the lounge and there being only one mouse there, he wandered out to eat his kibble and left Graeme to take care of the mouse.
Graeme was having none of that and removed the kibble from under Tristan's nose. Tristan just glared at him while Graeme carried him back to the lounge room. I was still in bed, but listening carefully to the proceedings and thought back-up might be called for so, I pushed Lancelot off my bed. Big mistake. Lancelot stalked out to the lounge room to air his grievances at being woken so early and found Tristan playing with Graeme, well Lancelot thought it looked like a game. Lancelot lost no time in starting a fight with Tristan and both cats were put outside. Guinevere slept, or pretended to sleep on the lounge (the one the mouse wasn't under) through the whole ordeal and ignored all the angry males both feline and human.
So the end result was that Tristan stalked off to one of the farm buildings and didn't put in another appearance until he'd forgiven Graeme, Guinevere continued her uninterrupted nap on the lounge, Lancelot returned home and slept on my lap for most of the morning and Graeme was heard muttering about useless cats from time to time. I did offer to let the ferrets have a run in the lounge room, promising that they would catch the mouse. Graeme actually toyed with accepting my offer, but stopped just short. A good thing too - I was actually counting on that. I hate seeing anything killed.
We leave the front door open at night so the cats can come and go as they please. Yes, I know that's to blame for the Red Head with the mouse incident, but it's easier than trying to sleep through their demands to come inside at all hours of the night. Sadly, despite this inviting open door being available for the last few days as a mouse exit, we still have a mouse in residence somewhere in the loungeroom. We discovered this yesterday when Lancelot began acting more like a cat than a sloth and started trying to get behind our large wall unit. He appeared to be quite desperate to squeeze his not so sleek body into the little gap between the unit and the wall. I thought of camels going through eyes of needles, but refrained from making comments. Lancelot is a bit touchy about his girth (I've been teasing him for years, so I know he's touchy). I pointed Lancelot's attempts out to Graeme and Graeme immediately joined in the hunt. Now don't get me wrong, Graeme couldn't fit between the wall unit and the wall either. Being human and possessing opposable thumbs did give him a slight advantage. He used a long stick to try and shoo the mouse towards Lancelot's waiting jaws at the other end of the wall unit. This might have worked if the mouse wasn't able to dive under the wall unit completely out of sight.
Both Graeme and Lancelot put in a bit more wasted effort to winkle the mouse out of its hiding place, but in the end Lancelot admitted defeat and went to see what was in the feed bowl. Graeme was made of sterner stuff and continued to bash the wall unit, the wall and anything else that might give the mouse concussion and make it wander, dazed out into the open. I began to feel sorry for the poor little mouse and it's inevitable fate and thought a quick kill might actually be preferable. I had hoped that it would just leave peaceably during the night, but seeing that it had stayed put for a couple of nights already, I wasn't confident that it would ever leave. So, I once again offered the services of the ferrets.
Working ferrets, not my pampered pets, but other people's ferrets, made their living by going down long winding rabbit burrows and flushing out rabbits. Surely one little trapped mouse wouldn't be a challenge once my ferrets' instincts kicked in. When the ferrets visited inside they loved nothing better than playing behind the wall unit and ambushing the other ferrets or me if I got close enough. This should be easy. I felt dreadful for the poor little mouse, but I realised it had to go. Graeme thought long and hard about my offer this time, looked at his soon-to-be-the-target-of-ferrets'-interest toes and finally agreed. Going for maturity and life experience rather than youthful enthusiasm, I brought in the two adult ferrets, Horton and Jocie, leaving the over excitable and inexperienced baby ferrets, Byron and Cecilia in the cage. I ignored the babies' pleas to take them along too and hurried back to the house.
I decided to try the ferrets in order of oldest to youngest and stuffed Horton into the gap. Horton had other ideas and back pedaled as fast as he could only to find himself once again pushed into the small space. Being the laid back fellow he is, Horton decided to go with the flow and see where the tunnel led him. He couldn't believe his luck when he found Graeme's toes at the other end!!!! This discovery was soon followed by yells from Graeme for me to "Come And Get This Ferret!!!". I came and got the ferret and tried Jocie instead. Jocie was a bit more willing to go into the desired gap and even went under the wall unit to explore the entire area. The mouse made a dash out from under the unit only to see Graeme at one and me at the other. The mouse then decided to sit firm and trust in God. It worked. Jocie ran straight passed the mouse, who quickly went back under the wall unit, and headed for Graeme's toes. Once more I had to detach a ferret from those oh so tasty toes and try again.
Don't ask me what it is about Graeme's toes. I've spent years wondering myself. I've owned seven ferrets now plus the two babies I'm baby sitting and Bec owned two ferrets who used to visit - making 11 ferrets in all and everyone preferred Graeme's toes to any other treat we could offer them. Strange huh?
I tried playing on their competitive nature and put both ferrets in there together. All that resulted from this tactic was that Jocie and Horton had a lovely time playing under the wall unit together while the mouse once again waited near the wall too far in for Graeme to reach it.
OK, I thought, I'll give the babies a chance. Maybe their killer instincts are better honed than the older ferrets who have lived a very sheltered life for so long. I put all four ferrets into the cat carrier so I could pull out whichever ferret I wanted to put on assignment and leave the other's locked up away from Graeme's toes. Byron had his turn and squeezed in to the gap did a lap of the wall unit's length, dived under the wall until, met the mouse and came rushing out to me to tell me all about it. Graeme heaved a sigh of relief because even though the mouse hadn't been caught on that try, he toes remained unmolested.
I then sent Cecilia in with instructions to make it quick so the poor little mouse didn't suffer. I think I must have pleaded the mouse's case too strongly. Cecilia made a bee line for the mouse, nose down following its scent. I screwed up my eyes and waited for the worst. The worst didn't happen. Cecilia dived under the wall unit and then fun and games were heard coming from that general area. They were playing!!!!! There were no ferret squeals threatening the mouse, there were no panicky squeaks coming from the mouse. Just running and shuffling noises and no sign of either combatant. Finally Cecilia came out, thanked me for introducing her to her new friend and mooched off in the general direction of Graeme's toes. I scooped her up before more damage was done in that area and as I scooped, I saw the mouse, who had obviously come out from under the wall unit to wave goodbye to its new friend, leave via my now abandoned end of the wall unit and run out into the other part of the house.
We have no idea where it went. I lost track of it as soon as it scooted along the wall into the dining room. Unfortunately all the doors to the rest of the rooms were open as was the front door. I suspect we still have a mouse in residence. I have no idea where it may be living now, but something tells me that its found a comfortable, cat free zone and is settling in for the long haul.
I suppose I'm going to have to start providing food and water for it now. After all I feel it's almost a member of the family after all we've gone through together. And how could I face Cecilia knowing that I'd let something dreadful happen to her new friend?