Cat and Mouse

Have you ever heard, “it was like a game of cat and mouse?” I have, and it has never been in the context of the larger, stronger party spending an afternoon torturing the smaller party and then finally eating their head. Maybe it was a strategic negotiation and one side had a lot more power, or maybe it was a stressful situation that required quick thinking. But no one was going to be dead or mortally wounded at the end of the game. That’s how cat and mouse is played, I know because I have cats.

I love my cats. They provide a great deal of enjoyment, entertainment and learning in my life. Also they keep the rodents away and other than on the few occasions I have mistakenly allowed my children to keep rodents as pets, I have not willingly brought rodents into the house. There was the time with the broken mouse, but otherwise, you know at least he had a chance. The cats seem to have a great deal of affection for us, and I like that. At least one of them always sleeps in the bed, either at my feet or tucked up into the side of my body. Delilah spends most of each day in whatever room we are in, even if that means suffering the presence of the dogs. And they proudly bring us gifts. Lucky us.

The gifts come less frequently than they used to. The cats are getting older and I rather like the sedate lump of fur they spend most of their time being. But the gifts do come. When the cats were younger and the children younger somehow the cats, not the children, got the message that we liked being up in the middle of the night. Perhaps they got that from the fact that we were often up in the middle of the night with the children. More than once a cat would come in making an oddly needy noise and then we would hear the squeaking and feel the scurry across the comforter. There ensued a 2am attempt at catch and release that I am sure only convinced the cat further than we really enjoyed the gift. Then of course there are the gifts of the parts, left on the doormat to be appreciated and I can only imagine what else I am supposed to do with them. In some ways the parts are the best gift. Sure you have to do some clean-up but it doesn’t keep you up at night and you don’t have to be too consciously aware of what went into the procurement of the gift.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to play the game as an active participant, and the truth is I really didn’t want to. There is a big window in the office that is too high to look out of for a view, but it sits adjacent to a wilderness of side yard with trees and shrubbery and an access way for the cats from our fenced yard to the great wilds that more or less make up the hill. I could hear the cat making his come look what I have done noise. I don’t want to know what he has done when he makes the noise but I always go anyway just in case he has hurt himself.

He proudly dropped the mouse at my feet. It was intact and I said, “thank you Samson,” whereupon the mouse made a break for it. So not paralyzed, and not visibly wounded but I wasn’t taking a mouse x-ray and my guess was that he wasn’t at his best. The mouse was doing a poor job of hiding in the bark, the cat was mewing at me loudly as he made swatting gestures with his paw in the direction of the mouse. I took from it that this was a lesson in how to play with a mouse and clearly I was a moron since the mouse was right there and I wasn’t doing anything about it. I could have rescued the mouse, I could have scooped up the cat and removed him from the situation. Instead I scratched his ears, said another thank you and went back in. Later there were some parts on the doormat and the cat looked like a fluffy black pillow sleeping in the sun on a lounge chair.

I’m not sure what my moral obligation is in this situation, I struggle with understanding who the bad guy is here. I suppose it is just better to stay away from games where only one party walks off the field at the end of the day, best to not play cat and mouse at all if you can avoid it…

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