Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Hunter-Gatherer: Mouse Botherer

We have a cat named Mowzer.  He was named after one of my son’s favourite stories, “The Mousehole Cat.”  He is also a magpie cat and so resembles his fictional namesake.  A friend with a particularly warped sense of humour recently likened Mowzer to Hitler (he has a splash of black covering one eye and a little black nose, which, through squinty eyes, could pass as a moustache); however, the similarity ends there, for Mowzer is a very easy-going cat.  He’s a lover, not a fighter.  Except, that is, when it comes to creatures smaller than him.

We have a long wilderness of a garden, backing onto woodland - a cat’s paradise.  Mowzer takes full advantage of this and has brought back a selection of “gifts” to show his appreciation for the hideously expensive cat food we buy him.  So far, we have received a blackbird - no longer singing - in the dead of night, numerous shrews and a number of mice.

Unfortunately for Mowzer, we have recently carried out an assault on our garden and in particular, an overgrown wisteria and buddleia clinging to the side of our house.  Following this pruning session, Mowzer’s killing spree suddenly ceased.  We speculated that the mice and shrews had taken shelter amongst the roots of the now ex-buddleia and we had inadvertently deprived Mowzer of such easy targets.

Mowzer took to sleeping more and hunting less.  He grew more aloof and, dare I say it, sulky.  It was as though he blamed us for desecrating his stomping ground, forcing him to go further afield for a kill.  Clearly he wasn’t prepared to do so.

That is until a September chill pervaded the night air, bringing with it an influx of worryingly large house spiders.  A few nights ago, Mowzer had just eaten and was cleaning his whiskers and thinking hard about another sleep, when from the shadow of the dishwasher, a spider emerged, so big, I could see the whites of its eyes.  Mowzer pounced with a nimbleness I had not seen him demonstrate for weeks and in one direct hit, caught and consumed the eight-legged beast without a second thought.  I admit, I had to avert my gaze during this stomach churning process, but confess to a sneaking admiration for his speed and agility.

But this was just the beginning of a very active night for Mowzer.  Buoyed up by the realisation that there were creatures to hunt inside the house, Mowzer went temporarily insane.  He darted around the house, stalking anything that moved - from shadows to human toes. 

Eventually, he settled under our bed whilst we were watching TV.  I say, “settled,” but in fact a glance under the bed would be met by a pair of eyes the size of dinner plates and a swipe of his paw.  During that evening, Mowzer managed to locate and annihilate two more house spiders before disappearing through the cat flap and into the night.

In the middle of the night, I was vaguely aware of a series of thuds and noises somewhere between Bambi on ice and a centipede in Doc Martens.  The grim discovery, early on Wednesday morning, was a murdered mouse and a scattering of shoes in the hallway.  The poor creature had obviously taken refuge in the shoe basket before Mowzer, the hunter-gatherer, despatched him.

I can only conclude that the house spider has had the same effect on our cat’s enthusiasm for his life’s work as viagra has on an ageing lothario.

Mower is back.

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