MouseBusters™ on the case. No more.

Until this year, our two cats, Paco, 16, and Fifo, 12, did a credible job of keeping wild critters, particularly mice and rats, out of the house.

This week, though, we discovered they’d surrendered their hunting badges. It may be Paco’s old age or Fifo increasing rotundity and laziness, but when we spotted a small mouse in the kitchen a few days ago the cats didn’t show the slightest hunting interest.

Hold our calls. We’re retired now. 

Félix and Stew were greatly alarmed by the appearance of the mouse in the kitchen and yelped about “ratas” that kept growing in size and number at least in their imagination. On day two of the rodent crisis, the ratas had mutated into a herd of predators the size of small raccoons.

I insisted on calling them “guayabitos,” which is the proper name for little gray mice—quite cute, actually—instead of ratas, which to my mind are the industrial-strength rodents that reposition the garbage dumpsters in Chicago’s alleys at night.

Paco’s retirement I can understand. He came with us from Chicago and recently has been howling at night as if in pain. The vet told us he has arthritis and sometimes it hurts him to walk.

Once, after looking listless for a few days, we took him to Dr. Alma, a vet so deeply revered by the expat community that she seems to be on the brink of canonization. She palmed off Paco’s case to a young assistant who when we met him was decked out in a smock so filthy he looked like someone who’d just finished a shift at Jiffy Lube.

The next day Dr. Doofus, as Stew came to call him, retrieved Paco from the back room, put him on the counter and dramatically announced he had advanced feline diabetes and no more than six months to live.

Yikes, poor Paco!

That was eleven years ago. We’ve never been back to Alma or Dr. Doofus. Except for his arthritic joints Paco today keeps placidly ambling around at night and sleeping during the day. Once a week he might go out and around the house, exiting by the kitchen door and returning through the garage.

Life is good but his hunting career is over.

Even in his salad days, Paco’s hunting style could be described as Newtonian: he let gravity do most of the work. He would spot a mouse perilously tiptoeing on the canopy over the terrace and just sit and wait underneath until the mouse fell down in front of him. Paco would slap him with his paw and that was it. This strategy could take several hours. 

Fifo, on the other hand, has always been an aggressive hunter of birds, mice and rats who at day’s end would leave a trail of sparrow and hummingbird feathers and mouse bones on our terrace. It was an amazing show because Fifo never fully opens his eyes and looks as if he’s permanently stoned.

Recently, though, he’s retired from the hunting racket too, after apparently concluding it’s easier to sit around and wait for canned food to come his way than go looking for his dinner.

So to deal with the guayabito in the kitchen we had to retrieve a live-trap we’d bought here made of fencing mesh, a piece of wood and a spring-loaded door. It is a crude, almost medieval-looking contraption, something kids would make in grammar school shop class and get a C+.  I don’t know where it came from.

Out on parole. 

On the first night we heard the trap door slamming and the following morning found a tiny mouse, about three inches long plus tail, poking his nose through the mesh. Of course we didn’t kill him. Félix took him away from the house and let him loose.

In the basement storage room things got more grisly. I had bought four sticky mouse traps which Félix positioned on top of the shelves. Next day there were five or six dead mice stuck to the traps, plus another one that was stuck but still alive. Félix asked if he should try to carefully pry loose the toes of the survivor and let him loose too.

Stew voted against that act of kindness. I didn’t want to look at any mice stuck on the traps.

The storage room situation is baffling because that’s where three of the dogs sleep. I guess they don’t hear the mice over each other’s snoring.

My vote is to let the mice run around in the storage room at night, past the dogs’ noses, and leave it at that. There’s an infinite number of mice outside and I refuse to buy any more traps or be responsible for the misery of mice stuck to the traps, especially those that may be still alive.


6 thoughts on “MouseBusters™ on the case. No more.

  1. You're a roll today, hombre. You're a hoot. You need a stage. Newtonian hunting style. And Fifo appearing to be permanently stoned. Maybe he is.By the way, mice are ratones. Ratas are rats. What you have, it seems are ratones. Better by far to have ratones instead of ratas.


  2. Thank you for your suggestion. I mentioned it to the vet because I know people who have given glucosamine to their old dogs. But the vet said that Paco, who is pretty thin and frail, probably couldn't digest glucosamine very well or even baby aspirins.Thanks again.


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