By Dawn Aerts
It’s an age-old story.
Like a Shakespearean play, there are elements of frivolity and surprise, amusing moments and tragic end. For cats, the game of ‘mouse’ is simple: see the mouse, corner the mouse, ‘play with mouse’ until mouse escapes, or sadly succumbs.
Sometimes, a cat-mouse duo may appear to play together, but let’s not get carried away. These two are destined to be ‘fren-emies’ and at our house, Miss Lulu takes the game seriously. Experts believe that the humble cat was widely valued in ancient Egypt for their obsession with devouring any rodent who infested a grain bin.
At your house, that duty might be a garage, a basement or under a sink.
Eventually, people came to admire cats for their other traits… as the flamboyant felines they are. While certain breeds (like short hair) are said to be better suited for ‘mousing’ than others, cat owners will tell you that today’s shelter-kitties have this very skill built into their mind set. Mousing is just one of their competencies.
For example, Lulu is all about the game of mouse, but she is yet to deliver a victim. She is an indoor cat that seems to understand her limitations outside the front door. And while she has an assortment of jingle balls and cat trinkets, and toilet paper rolls to keep her busy, it is the toy mouse that holds her attention – keeping it tucked away, here and there for future games.
The outside cat to consider.
Many cats will not do well if left outside as they will revert to the ‘wild’ and are susceptible to cold and illness. Cats, like any animal, should be given proper care, shelter, protection and regular feeding. But if you are looking for a sound cat, with very practical skills, here are a few tell-tale signs of a potential ‘mouser’ in the house:
- Does the cat carry toys in its mouth and look like she owns the toy? This is a typical behavior for a mouser.
- Is the cat both curious and persistent in efforts? Good mousers have long attention spans, and they will seldom forget about their target.
- A well-fed, healthy cat makes for a better mouser.
- Does your cat enjoy interaction, or hide for long periods of time? In either case, you may have an adept feline.
- Bells: a cat collar with bell will alert the neighborhood birds.
One downside to the cat and mouse game: Your cat will eventually want to provide you with rewards, so you should keep plastic gloves handy for disposal. While cats who capture mice are more susceptible to some disease – you should consult with a vet on what those health concerns might be.
With good care and a regular menu, feral cats can be valued for ‘outside’ barn duties but these should always be spayed or neutered to prevent neglectful outcomes and many multiple cats.
Be a Hero by adopting a homeless dog or cat at your local animal shelter. For information on adoptions at the Cedar City, Iron County, or Enoch Shelter, call 435-586-8791 or 435-586-2960.
Illustration by Hannah Holloway, SUU Illustration Department student.