A couple of cats (of the feline variety) have moved into the neighbourhood. And let me tell you, they certainly don’t seem to know their place. I have found them passed out on top of the barbecue after an obviously hard night of partying, laying naked on the picnic table sunning themselves and hanging out on the garbage can, cleaning themselves (which seems an unlikely choice considering the venue). I am not what you would call a cat lover. It all stems from a horrible book a friend loaned me when I was in university. It was about feral and bloodthirsty cats who spent all of their time searching for and killing the people who had left them to die in the woods. I had nightmares for years! I have had time to be up close and personal with a cat when my son John brings his cat and dog home at Christmas. Now you might think having this time with the grandkitty would change my mind about cats, and his cat is okay…as long as he has his antipsychotic meds! When John forgets to give them to him, that cat is the feral cat of my nightmares. So you can see that my cat experiences don’t lead me to think highly of cats. I could give you a few more examples of my adventures with cats but I don’t want to scare you, too. So imagine my surprise when I was discussing the new neighbourhood cats with Loverboy and he provided a silver lining about these cats hanging around. They would look after any mice in the yard. This quickly changed my perspective because as much as I dislike cats, I hate mice even more!
I am a city girl and so I was well into my forties before I ever saw a real mouse. Well, that is not really true; I did see two white mice that my brother bought off a classmate when we were younger. My parents were away and we had some hapless babysitter tending to my siblings and I so this was my brother’s chance to do something radical. He arrived home with the mice and proudly shared that he had also bought the cage for them. My sisters and I were not impressed but he assured us that he would keep the mice behind bars at all times. Unfortunately, the cage was actually for a larger kind of rodent and the next morning, to my brother’s dismay, he found that the mice had made a daring midnight escape. He barely had time to break the news to our babysitter when bloodcurdling screams rang from my sister’s room. She was still in bed and the two mice were snuggling in with her, having made their way under the covers. Well before you could say pest control, my brother was on his way to his classmates house hoping for a complete refund, the two mice in a box under one arm and the cage under the other. I thought that would be the last time I ever had to look at a mouse. How could I have been so wrong?
I traveled a lot when I was working and I often packed some breakfast bars to take with me. This saved me from having to eat at a restaurant, allowing me a little bit of extra time to sleep. On one trip, I pulled a breakfast bar out of the box I had brought with me and noticed that it was half eaten. My first thought was that one of my boys had opened it, taken a bite, and didn’t like it so put it back half eaten. That is something that my kids would do. However, when I looked a bit closer, I noticed that not only was the bar half eaten, the paper was also chewed away. That might be something that some kids would do, but my kids weren’t really in to eating paper and so my mind raced to figure out how this had happened. And then I realized the cause – there was a mouse in my house! I called Loverboy and asked him to check the cupboards for any sign that we had mice. He looked (obviously with his eyes closed) and then informed me that there was nothing there. I was not convinced, but what could I do? I was away from home and would only be able to verify upon my return. Each day, when I checked in, the topic of a possible mouse in the house came up, but Loverboy assured me that he hadn’t seen anything. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
I arrived home that Sunday and, of course, the first thing I did was check the cupboards. And guess what I found? You got it! There were plenty of mouse droppings in plain sight. It is amazing what you can find when you OPEN your eyes! Loverboy was just getting ready to head out on a work trip of his own but I begged him to go to the hardware store to get me some traps. I was going to be left to deal with these mice and I was already panicking. He bought a few of those old fashioned traps for me and then made a hasty exit; I don’t think he likes mice either. I set up the traps in some of my cupboards and hoped for the best.
The next morning I got out of bed and put on my shoes because I wasn’t going on a mouse hunt in bare feet. I made my way to the kitchen and very slowly opened the first cupboard; the trap was still intact, just as I had left it. Phew! With a pounding heart, I moved to the next cupboard and again, opening it very slowly, I took a peek. To my horror, there was a dead stiff mouse, arms and legs raised like he was doing the sun salutation. I screamed, slammed the cupboard door and proceeded to run around the house, hyperventilating. I tried to calm myself and gain the courage needed to deal with the situation and so when I was finally a bit calmer, I made my way back to cupboard. Well, guess what? When I opened the cupboard that dead mouse was still there, splayed on the trap for all to see. I screamed again, threw the door shut and ran around the house again. It was not a pretty sight I am sure!
Finally, I realized that I had to do something more than scream hysterically and so I called Loverboy at his hotel and screamed at him about the dead mouse. He groggily told me to leave the mouse there and he would deal with it when he got home three days later but I watch CSI and I declared that was not a great option! Once he was a bit more awake, he directed me to call our neighbour and ask him for help in getting rid of the mouse. Now for most things, this would probably be a good suggestion because my neighbour is pretty handy and he is always willing to help out when asked, but he had just returned home after receiving cancer treatments so I didn’t think calling him about a dead mouse was really a good idea. He had more important things to deal with. I found my courage with a pair of rubber gloves and two plastic bags, and so I made my way back to the cupboard. I opened the door, threw one of the plastic bags over the dead mouse in the trap, grabbed the trap now well protected by the bags and the gloves, pulled it out of the cupboard and dumped it into the second bag. I then threw the whole thing into the outside garbage can. Wow! I had actually dealt with this on my own and I felt pretty good – grossed out of course, but accomplished.
As I have admitted, I am a city girl and so I didn’t know that old adage that when you find a mouse in your house, there is probably another…or two or three or ten! And so began my battle royale with these little rodents who had not yet realized that they found refuge in a house of horrors for mice. The best thing I discovered in my bid to rid my house of mice were sticky traps. Now for all you animals lovers who want to complain about my mouse catching methods, I have left all those humane traps that you like so much at the hardware store so you go ahead and use them. I find the sticky traps particularly effective and Loverboy will agree, except when they stick to his shoes.
One mouse, who was particularly wily, decided to taunt us from his new home under the washing machine. Loverboy had laid one sticky trap in the room, but in my new mice-hunter wisdom, I deemed that one was not enough but four or five would probably do the trick! By this time, I was buying the biggest sticky traps I could find. Bigger is better when you are buying traps, in my humble opinion. These traps were so big, they could actually trap a small dog but since we didn’t have any pets at this time, we felt safe to use them. Loverboy hesitantly made his way into the room, and while the mouse peeked at us from under the washer I handed him the traps to place strategically around the room. Just as he was finishing, the mouse decided to make a break for it. Screaming, I hurried from the room and slammed the door shut, trapping Loverboy in the room with the mouse. I think Loverboy was screaming, too and when I opened the door, I noticed that he had stepped back on one of the traps and it was now stuck to his shoe. As I tried to remove the trap, the mouse made another a break for it and so I slammed the door again, safely outside of the mouse zone. Loverboy was yelling, I was screaming and the mouse was laughing his little rodent head off. When I opened the door, I saw that Loverboy had grabbed the broom, obviously to hit the mouse with, but now it had another trap stuck to it. Those traps not only caught a Loverboy, they also caught a broom. I told you they are the best. If that mouse had made another break for it, goodness knows what else would have ended up in a trap. I do know that I would probably have been looking at a d-i-v-o-r-c-e because Loverboy was not impressed. We finally did catch that mouse and several others who were visiting so all was good in the end.
I have had some success in keeping those mice away from my house or at least trapping them before they wreak havoc. I have learned that the key is not to let them inside in the first place and I have done my best to locate any holes and fill them with foam or steel wool. I had hoped after the first event that word would get out to the mice community that our house was not that desirable. It’s not even that warm! That hasn’t seemed to be the case and so every fall, I usually find a mouse or two in the sticky traps I keep in the basement. With Loverboy’s insights about those cats keeping the mice at bay, however, I think I will finally have a mouse-free house this fall. I now recognize the genius of actually welcoming these cats to our yard. I might even put out a little treat, just to encourage them to come around more often. And as long as they keep their focus on killing mice and not killing me, we can all enjoy the yard together. It’s a win-win!