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Happy Ratcatchers’ Day!

It’s a day worth celebrating. Ratcatchers were courageous people in the bad old plague days…heroes even. And I have to admit to a certain fondness for the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Whether it’s the ‘Trickster’ nature of a mysterious piper dressed in jester-type robes, or the un-Disneyfied harshness of the punishment he inflicts upon the greedy, cheating burghers, or the shapeshifting nature of the Pied Piper, casting his net of enchantment…

Anyway, back to Ratcatchers’ Day. It appears to have been circled in red on my cats’ calendar, because this morning, I found the generous gift of a plump rat with long yellow teeth waiting for me on the ‘breakfast rug’.

Small rat-let inside chicken coop

It could have been worse.
I woke up the other day to the first rays of an early sunrise reaching in through the window. I yawned and turned over sleepily. For a moment, I half opened my eyes…I closed them again…and then OPENED them wide! On the pillow beside me was a severed head.

It stared at me with a dull, glassy stare, tiny teeth bared in a rictus grin…
It could have been worse.

Every night I am woken by the cry « Meeowse! Meeeeeowwwse! » My cats are generous. They hunt for 99% of their own food (Their choice! Don’t report me to Bast!), and have no interest in nasty, bleuchy cat food…except for a soupçon of biscuits, which are eaten as a post-mouse digestif. They worry about my vegetarianism. « Look! She’s eating another green thing! She needs mouse! Poor two-legs. We must feed her…We must teach her how to hunt. »

Fierce huntress showing fangs

On a good night, my food is prepared for me.
I wake. I stumble out of bed. The bathroom is close by, but I know my route will be perilous. One step…two…and ‘SQUELCH’…I step in a strategically placed offering of intestines and gall bladder. I continue more cautiously…One step…another…feeling more confident now…’CRUNCH’. A head. Aaarghhh! I step back. ‘SCRUNCH-SPLAT’. I can feel the wounded looks boring into me. « That was your breakfast !  Why do we bother? »
It could have been worse.

I apparently need to learn to hunt for myself. « Meeowse! » I wake up. « Meeeowwwse ». I wait…An ominous sense of foreboding descends. « MEEOWWSE » Cat is on bed.

What now unfolds depends on which horror film I have been cast in.
Scenario 1: I kick at the covers to remove dead mouse from on top of duvet.
Scenario 2: I kick at covers to remove live mouse from on top of duvet. And succeed.

Scenario 3: I kick at covers to remove live mouse from on top of duvet. And fail.

Scenario 3a: Mouse scuttles across duvet and gets off on its own.
Scenario 3b: Mouse scuttles across duvet and finds a hiding place under the duvet.

Scenario 3b (i): Mouse remains undetected under duvet and builds a new life as a ‘house mouse’ (see later…)

Scenario 3b(ii): Mouse tries to escape by scampering over my body.

Scenario 3b (iii): Mouse tries to escape by scampering over my head.

Scenario 3c: Mouse scuttles under duvet. I am ignorant of this fact. I wake in the morning to feel something odd beneath me. I turn on the light. Squashed mouse. 😦

Once a mouse has run the gauntlet of my hunting capabilities, however, something peculiar happens. The cats appear to have decided as one, that a gift mouse who survives, henceforth has immunity. So any mouse found within the bounds of the house is a mouse in sanctuary.

mouse family eating from cat bowl

Outside the house, the cats are lethal top predators…from cat-flap to supper in less than a minute! Inside the house, however… I hear a scrabbling from across the kitchen. A mouse, happily tucking into the remainder of those digestif cat-biscuits. Another joins him…and 3 more… A couple of metres away sits a cat…watching…beaming with benevolent approval…!

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