You Can Lead a Cat to a Mouse, But You Can’t Make Him Catch It

Cat and mouse games are often just that, games, and all games require rules, and all cats know how to make the rules.

Cats are interesting creatures, to say the least. They have a particular way about them that always leaves their owners wondering just what in the heck the critter is thinking. A dog on the other hand, when he looks at you, you know precisely what he is you, love you, love you, love you, love you, .and on and on to infinity. Meanwhile the cat is sitting there with his eyes slitted, looking at you like you just fell into the sewer and came up smelling quite unlike roses. This may or may not be exactly what the cat is thinking at that precise moment, but it doesn’t matter as his expression fits your crime no matter what it is.

Cats like to be entertained and to entertain, however the choice of entertainment has to be their own, and the rules of the game must be planned out in advance of each contest, .by the cat. Under no circumstances is the cat owner allowed to change or write any rules by him, or herself. This is written in stone, and routinely enforced by the diligent cat. The cat’s list of fun games varies from day to day, but the rules always stay the same. This law of the “jungle” also goes for the cat’s hunting abilities.

Cats will hunt mice, and do it quite enthusiastically, spending hours or even days on the job before the hapless mouse finally emerges from the wall and dares to run across the linoleum. A running mouse in the open is free game, and the cat is simply doing his or her job. However, if the cat is taking a much deserved nap in the middle of the afternoon, and the cat owner finds a free running mouse, suddenly it is a totally different story altogether. This is an exercise in breaking the well-established rules of the game, and the human owner is startlingly in the wrong.

I had this very thing happen in my house recently and with three official cats in the house, you would think that spotting unofficial mice would not be much of a problem, but there it was, running across the floor and looking for all the world like a real, live mouse. It cornered itself against a solid wall and cowered there for several minutes. Meanwhile, there was not a cat in sight. I went into the living room, and woke up one of the cats and dragged his carcass into the room with the mouse. He took one look at the mouse, and in his sleep-deprived state of mind he was not thinking “mouse” at that moment. He was thinking, “let me get this straight, .you woke me up from my much-needed beauty nap for this?”

With the cat looking at me and wondering why I was so lazy as to not catch the stupid mouse myself, and the mouse looking at both of us as if its life was over, I began to lay down the law to that cat. “You are the mouse hunter, catch the mouse. What are you waiting for, a written invitation? Catch the darn mouse!” The cat managed to work up enough enthusiasm to yawn, and then lay down with his head on his paws and sleepily eyed the little brown ball of fluff in question. The mouse, taking this as his cue, decided that now might be a good time to run. And so, he did. Right into my shoe, which knocked him backward right to his starting point again. The cat blinked.

The mouse staggered a bit, which caused the cat to blink again, and then the mouse, having fully recovered, took off scurrying again, in a different direction, .straight into the much relaxed paw of the cat. The cat’s yellow eyes popped open, and he became possessed by the spirit of an antelope, and began pouncing up and down on the poor mouse. The mouse played dead, which is a good mouse trick because house cats refuse to do all the work in a game and when the toy just lies there, they lose interest fairly quickly. My sleepy cat was no exception, and with his toy no longer moving, he settled in again for a long winter’s nap.

“Oh, for heaven’s sake!” I grabbed the cat, and shook him awake again. He came up clawing, and glaring dirty thoughts at me. I pointed to the mouse that had now flipped over and was playing dead on all four feet. “Catch that mouse!” The cat looked at me, then at the mouse, then at me again. The meaning was obvious, .”No thanks, ma, I’m not hungry, .but you can have it if you want. Be my guest.” Meanwhile, the mouse, thinking if he moved slowly enough he would become invisible, started making the slowest-getaway I have ever seen, straight for a chest of drawers where he could easily hide underneath until the heat was off.

I made a lunging grab for the mouse, the mouse saw my approaching shadow, and became Indy-500 mouse, taking off like a brown, fuzzy blur for that chest of drawers. He would have made it too, if it had not been for the sudden streak of orange lightning that shot straight for that mouse like it came out of a cannon. Claws extended, teeth bared, eyes flashing, that cat pounced and caught the mouse, carrying it proudly in his mouth to show me. I could see it in his eyes. I knew exactly what he was thinking, ”See, ma? It isn’t so hard.” Then he took off with the mouse, and proceeded to torture it to death for the next fifteen minutes. The moral of this story, of course, is that humans can’t hunt and cats know all the rules. The biggest rule of all being this one: The proffered mouse is merely a gift, but a running one, now that’s a hunt.” We can learn a lot from a cat, now can’t we?

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User Comments
  1. Blaine

    On October 25, 2007 at 4:00 am

    haha good read :)

  2. Lucy Lockett

    On February 12, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    That was great!

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