Mice and Prodigal Cats
Mice and Prodigal Cats
It’s November and the mice are back, leaving that distinctive smell in the bottom cupboards of my kitchen. Yesterday I set up the live trap and had two before the end of the day, seeming quite happy with the glob of peanut butter set to lure them in, now decorated with tiny black droppings. Rose and I walked them out to where our woods meet the neighbor’s hayfield (“They are field mice,” Rose reminded me.) and watched as they jumped out (one more hesitant than his sibling) and disappeared in the dry grass. I wondered if they’d start their new adventure together and if they would soon be repeat offenders to our house. I need to drive the next ones farther away, but that doesn’t give me the excuse to visit the woods when it’s at its best, when the cash crop of poison ivy has withered back to the roots and the hanging spiders seem to have retreated from their summer homes above the path.
This morning there was another arrival at our door. Standing among the other barn cats waiting for their breakfast was Noel, the black cat that came to us several years ago. She was a kitten then and immediately was comfortable indoors, making me think she was dumped on the road near our house by someone who quickly tires of pet chores. We let her stay inside, loving the way she put her ear to the stereo speaker and walked on the piano keys, as if music were her thing. But gradually she got fat and lazy and much less interested in entertaining us with her own style of sonatas or her once silly playfulness. When she disappeared on one of her regular jaunts outside, we decided she was likely just too slow to escape the owls and coyotes. She’s been gone for months and now, running through the door and right to the bowl of cat food still placed in the back hallway, looks much younger and thinner and energetic. I like to think she somehow ended up far away and made her way back to us, like in that movie The Incredible Journey, but we will probably never know the true story.
We don’t need another indoor cat, for they never seem to keep the mice out anyway and their jealous battling to be “top dog” creates accidents that smell much worse than the mice droppings. But Helen scooped her up, hugging her close, and Rose (home sick with a cold) has been keeping watch over her all morning. Now Noel is lying next to me, asleep on an orange wool couch throw. She is like the prodigal child, not the greatest in habits and motivation, thought to be gone, but welcomed with such excitement and joy when she finds her way home.