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Why Duncan didn’t come to bed

Duncan was acting strange yesterday. He spent almost all day in the basement, lying on the mat in front of the washing machine. He didn’t seem sick; he just wanted to be alone. I get like that sometimes too, but I don’t usually lie on the mat in front of the washing machine.

I left him alone. Occasionally I visited to do laundry. Once I carried him upstairs for dinner. But other than that, he spent all day alone in the basement.

At the end of the day I went to bed alone, and woke up alone at 7:00 in the morning, convinced Duncan had expired from some mysterious ailment during the night. I didn’t go check. It was exactly like the first time my son slept through the night. I couldn’t go check, because I needed to keep some hope that he was alive.

Of course Duncan hadn’t died. He came meowing up the stairs shortly after I woke up. Meow Meow THUMP THUMP THUMP Meow all the way up the stairs and onto the bed. PURR PURR PURR MEOW. A brief snuggle. Then he hopped down. MEOW MEOW MEOW THUMP THUMP THUMP down the stairs.

I got up and fed him. But you know, he wasn’t really himself. Nothing was wrong, exactly, he was just different. He was acting like neither he nor I was the centre of the universe. And he was lying in front of the stove, which isn’t where he usually lies. Finally I lay down in front of the stove with him and looked under the stove with him and that’s when I saw the mouse.

This is my first mouse as a homeowner. Last time I had a mouse, my landlords – CCOC – indulged my humanitarian leanings and brought me a humane trap. This time I’m on my own. Me and Duncan. And Duncan, for all his interest in the mouse, does not strike me as the least tiny bit inclined towards hunting. I think he just finds the mouse entertaining, like Cat TV.

If I do nothing, what will happen? Will the mouse move out when the weather gets nice?

Duncan and his Mouse
UPDATE: So I went downstairs to take a picture of Duncan looking under the stove so I could illustrate this post, and he wasn’t there. I found him at the bottom of the basement stairs with his mouse. And maybe I underestimated his hunting instincts. He seems to be pretty gentle with the mouse though; I think he just wants to play with it. He’s happy just to watch it, unless it stops moving for too long, and then he reaches out and touches it again so it will move some more.

Dance, Mouse!I don’t know whether to intervene or not. On the one hand, poor little mouse. On the other hand, lucky Duncan. On the other hand, even if I were to rescue the mouse, what would I do with it? On the other hand, if I don’t rescue it and it dies, where will its carcass end up? On the other hand, who am I to play God? On the other hand, Mother Nature can work this stuff out without any help from me. On the other hand, I always like to help out the underdog.


FINAL UPDATE (there are less final updates in the comments):

Duncan Donut, the Glorious Dogcat, after the hunt:

Duncan, after the hunt

I won’t post a photo of the mouse after the hunt. :(


26 comments to Why Duncan didn’t come to bed

  • Carmen

    I’m no mouse expert. And I, for one, think they’re sooo cute. But…I know they can do quite a bit of damage in the walls, chewing things, etc. etc. And usually, where there’s one, there are two…and you know what happens then…Yep, you become a “shelter for mice”… Mouse must go. Sorry.

  • Bonnie

    unless you like mouse poop in your cereal,your rice and your sugar bowl, get rid of the mouse.

  • Those are both very compelling arguments.

  • Two more words to cure guilt:
    Hanta Virus.

  • Pychic Librarian

    I will be following this story all day to find out how it ends. My experiences with cats and mice has taught me to let them sort it out.
    PS. It is a sure sign of Spring!

  • Greencolander

    Here’s the advice from the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre:

  • Hmmm. I might do that greencolander – of course I’m too late for this year.

    The latest update is that Duncan has terrorized the poor mouse half to death. It’s still alive and shows no obvious signs of damage or injury, but it’s shaking and refusing to move. Duncan can leave it, go upstairs, meow at me for awhile, have a drink of water, go back down to the basement, and find the poor little mouse exactly where he left him.

  • I doesn’t look like Duncan will kill it… he would have done it already. I’d probably trap it and release it somewhere, if you don’t it won’t leave when it gets warm, it will invite friends…. lots of friends, and you’ll end up with nibbled on pasta and mousy poops in your cereal.

  • The mouse is gone. Duncan accidentally broke some of his legs while transporting him from the basement to the kitchen. I distracted Duncan with some catnip, then moved the mouse outside. It would have been a kindness to kill him, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’m hoping a crow will put him out of his misery. Mother Nature’s such a bitch.

  • I would be exactly like you – we had a mouse & I BEGGED my husband not to put a trap out – when all of a sudden I heard SNAP! DARN IT! It couldnt have stayed in the house though – they do do damage – but I’m sure Duncan had fun for awhile anyways. just get a mouse on a string & pull it around for him – he’ll never know the difference. :-)

  • Ack, what a nightmare. I am glad for you it is over now.

  • Dianna

    You CAN take it outside, but take it from one who knows the hard way, it will come back. The truth is, you need to put it in the trash, with a lid on it so it can’t get out. And, go buy some mouse traps because where you have one mouse, you have many, many more!

  • Megan

    My cat did the same thing. He parked himself outside the hole until he could get his claws on the mouse. It was a good thing he did because 8 mouse bodies later (he killed them all while I was at work). There were no more mice and no more mysterious holes in catfood bags. I guess I could feel bad for the mice but I know Scooter had the best time ever catching them and having a mouse run over your foot while you are studying or watching tv is way creepy.

  • We had a mouse once. Our cats thought it was the best toy ever!!! They were quite gentle with it, even when carrying in their mouths. They’d carry it over to where they wanted to play with it, spit it out, and chase it again…the poor mouse. We eventually caught it and put it outside where it couldn’t be tortured by our cats!!

  • I don’t get this catch and release nonsense for mice. Would any of you do the same for a rat? If you aren’t going to drive it kilometers from human habitation (which might kill it anyway due to a lack of shelter), you’re just going to give the problem to someone else, and they’ll get sick or have property damage instead of you.

  • But the alternative is to KILL them…I can’t even kill ants.

  • Nancy

    It is certainly hard to kill living creatures (excepting perhaps mosquitoes and no doubt some other pests); but I think it boils down to whether or not you believe there is nothing worse than death. I would not have wanted to be that mouse.

  • Alicia

    Wow – Duncan is far nicer than my kitty. We had a mouse in an apt once and within about 5 seconds of seeing it, the mouse was quietly lying at her feet … dead. At least that poor little beasty had a fast end, unlike Duncan’s poor little toy.

    On a side note – I worked in a Prov Park once and my assistants wouldn’t let me feed a family of mouse babies that a camper found in a wood bag to our Visitor’s Centre snake. We had to go buy formula and feed the dang things. They survived and I released them in the fall… with the snake released 2 minutes later in the same direction!

  • Gwyndolyn O'Shaughnessy

    Once Gwyndolyn (the cat, not the writer) brought me a little shrew or vole that she had, erm, broken in transport. The poor thing was paralyzed from the middle down. I let her play with it for a bit, then put it in a paper bag in a dark cupboard so it could quietly expire.

    She has managed to release perfectly healthy mice in the house — our Emergency Backup Cat, Rashid, used to watch them eat his kibble. We had a rat under the stove, a mouse in the bookcase, another rat living in an easy chair for waaay too long … on and on. I don’t have much patience for mice in the house any more. If it’s near expiring, a dark box in the closet is kindest. If it’s healthy … well, whatever works to get it OUT of the house.

  • That was a whole lot of pathos in one short story. Cat meets mouse, cat loves mouse, cat breaks mouse mentally then physically, cat loses mouse.


    Why am I feeling like I just read really sad romance story?

  • Gae Fenske

    One very cold and frosty night – we were living on a property in the Snowy er ‘Mountains’ at the time – Australia is not too well endowed with real mountains.

    Our little huntress cat, the amazing Blot, hopped and wriggled her way through our bedroom window, somewhere in the DARKEST part of the wintry night (the nearest streetlights were 25 kms away), wriggled under MY doona – just what I needed a cold and frosty cat. Then, against my leg, something (also cold) but much smaller and sort of WET, wriggled.

    Lights, action, flip back doona and find slightly second-hand mouse crouching against my ankle. Grab by tail and HURL at wardrobe door. Blot VERY disappointed by mouse’s apparent lack of interest in further interaction.

    Blot was a very small, slender black cat of the famous variety known as “Free to a good home” and she was a mighty hunter – in the breeding season she positively lived on rabbit kits – remember they are a PEST here in OZ. She would have been about a quarter the size of the Big D.

  • Now that is a satisfied kitty in that last picture. Hail the king of the beasts (at least at your house)!

  • I used to feel sorry for the mice, until I was overrun with them. When it gets to the point that you’re afraid to stick your hand anywhere near the trash and there are mice droppings in every drawer in the kitchen, you know you must show the mice no mercy.

    My neighbour also liked to spare the mice and he used the humane traps and would move them to the next village until I pointed out to him that mice are extremely social creatures and he was removing them from their families. That’s hardly kind. Better to let nature take its course. I just wish the silly cats would speed it all up a bit instead of playing with them for ages first.

  • Alicia

    Mice aren’t too humane to themselves if caught in a self-resetting live trap. When living in the country without cats (huge mistake) we had a wee bit of a mouse problem and set out a cool self-resetting trap. Managed to catch 3 in one night. Well, by morning there were two living mice and one partially eaten one. Feel no mercy – they will also be cruel to each other.

  • We call that paying the Cat Rent in my house. I’m too chicken to watch though, cause baby girl just plays with them until they stroke out.

  • […] This wasn’t the first evidence of the mouse. I’d seen mouse turds on top of the little table in the laundry room. I knew he was down there. I figured Duncan would take care of him, just like he took care of the 2008 mouse. […]