I screamed involuntarily. Billy, Timmy and Ollie all jumped, as did I, on seeing the mouse run hell for leather the full length of the dining room. It ran straight under the Welsh dresser and immediately all three cats took up various positions, paws poking and prodding in the hope the mouse would be found.

Going to the cupboard under the stairs, I found a long flat piece of wood, perfect for mouse flushing. I lay down on the floor next to Timmy and moved the piece of wood slowly under the dresser.

Within seconds the mouse ran at full pelt two inches from my face to the little sofa. I screamed again. Ollie gave me such a look of utter contempt as if to say ‘you’ve frightened my mouse!’ I was going to remind him that perhaps three huge ginger faces pressed up against the dresser may have been responsible in scaring the mouse, but the words died unsaid. His face humbled me and I promised I wouldn’t scream again.

If the mouse had casually sauntered across the dining room floor and in passing, said: ‘Hey! How you doin?’ in the street talk that all respecting mice engage in, I would have minded less. But it scurried! Really quickly – and that is somehow scream inducing. I’m not someone who normally screams – but really quickly scurrying mice that don’t pass the time of day will invoke a scream or two.

I checked under the little sofa – I couldn’t see the mouse but as it was less than two inches long, it could have been hiding behind one of the legs.

Suddenly, I had a brain wave! I took the lid off a tall plastic storage container and put it on the floor where I expected the mouse to run straight into it – enabling me to release it unharmed by human or feline into the night. Naturally, it would scurry to its home and there’d be a huge family gathering to celebrate its safe return and it would relate its terrible story – but ending with the kindness of one human. I would be canonised in mouse circles and each time thereafter a mouse crossed my path – taking time out to say: ‘Hey! How you doin?’ as it did so, it would bow in deep reverence.

 

But as we all know, the best-laid plans of mice and this particular woman do not always go to plan. The mouse was obviously highly trained and ran straight past the storage box, past me - prompting yet another involuntary scream – and into the kitchen where it took refuge under the cooker. 

Billy and Timmy ran to take up sentry position but Ollie had had enough. With another withering look aimed in my direction, he shrugged and went through the cat flap.

I went to bed expecting that between six intelligent cats, one being arthritic, who could direct the proceedings, they’d somehow see the mouse off the premises. I also half-expected to see perhaps evidence that someone had caught the mouse and had a late night snack. Whoever didn’t rush eagerly to his breakfast bowl would, in all likelihood, be the snacker.

But when I got up that Sunday morning, all the cats greeted me as usual. There were no half-eaten remains lying on the kitchen floor and everyone ate their breakfast with relish.

Timmy went straight to the cooker and fished around under it. That had been its last place of refuge – could it still be there? I tried to look under the cooker but could only make out fluff and an errant pea. Although the mouse was small, even he couldn’t hide behind the pea!

I ate my breakfast in the dining room with my head on backwards keeping an eye over my shoulder to see if the mouse should break cover. Sure enough, just as I moved to the sink which is next to the cooker with my cereal bowl, the mouse darted under the washing machine. Without meaning to, I screamed again and Timmy came hurtling down the stairs to see what was wrong. He knew without waiting for an explanation from me that the mouse had moved and went straight to the washing machine and poked around for a while.

I put the plastic container down alongside the freezer which is next to the washing machine, with a sign that had an arrow marked ‘THIS WAY Mr Mouse’ attached. I added the ‘Mr’ as a mark of respect. Then with my face on the floor and my bum in the air, I tried to get a one-eyed look under the washing machine.

Timmy joined me, face on the floor and his bum in the air and there we were on a Sunday morning, just before church, looking for a mouse under the washing machine with our bums in the air!

We couldn‘t see anything so we both got up at the same time, me to push my face back into shape and Timmy to move to where the plastic storage container remained frustratingly empty.

I hurried off to church and forgot about the murine events in my kitchen, until when having lunch on return, I once again kept a weather eye over my shoulder for any signs of movement.

After lunch, I moved the washing machine out into the kitchen and sent Timmy in to have a look. He came back empty-pawed. Using a torch, I looked behind the freezer – several inches of furry dust had accumulated and the mouse could have come out in disguise. The game would have been up immediately though – how many 4’ mice with floor length hair are you likely to see in your lifetime?

I pulled the freezer away from the wall, positioning the plastic storage container in place in case it dashed for freedom. Apart from an embarrassing amount of dust there was no sign of the mouse. In this day and age of advanced technology I wondered if, while I’d been at church, he’d been sending text messages to his family and friends calling for re-enforcements. I did notice a largish gap between the skirting board and the floor. I once witnessed a mouse flatten itself to squeeze into a gap of only a few centimetres so, although I couldn’t see where he might have escaped to, I could only hope that he had actually escaped. 

Every time Timmy went past the cooker he was careful to look under it and under the washing machine. Ollie, who had brought the mouse in originally, had lost all interest in it and kept looking at me with withering contempt each time I screamed.

Who’d have thought that a little creature barely two inches long – excluding the tail – could cause so much upheaval in two days!

© Pauline Dewberry 2004

 

One Cat is Company

"One cat is company.
Two cats are a conspiracy. 
Three cats is an attempted takeover.
Four or more cats is a complete coup!"

Shona Steele (Australia)

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