Monday 13 June 2016

Mus, Mi, Mo, Mum ...

The title is one of the few things I recall from Latin classes. It is the beginning of the declension of the word "mouse". I think.

It was 45 years ago, after all.

But strangely, it is the exact phrase that runs through my mind whenever I think about mice. If I see a mouse, or a picture of a mouse, or someone talks about mice, I automatically think, "mus, mi, mo, mum ..." Isn't it odd how our minds work?

Anyway, I wrote awhile back about one mouse that got in our house and lived to tell the tale. That was quite a feat, considering we have three cats.

But it was not a one-off event, by any means. We've had other mice, and once our cats spy them, then I take over, and by hook or by crook I've been able to get them back outside without any casualties.

In a couple of cases, our fiercest cat even had the mouse in her mouth and was carrying it triumphantly to the next room when I saw her.

The first time it happened, I picked her up, mouse and all, and headed for the back door. When I paused to open the door, she dropped the critter and it ran under an edge of the cushion flooring next to the door jamb.

After closing the cat in the bathroom, I lifted the edge of the flooring and found the poor tiny creature flattened to the thickness of a dime. But when I poked him gently, he decompressed into his natural shape and lodged himself into the corner furthest from me, where the wall met the cupboard. Eventually I was able to get him into a bucket and took him outside. I left the bucket on its side and when I checked a few minutes later, the mouse had vanished into the warm night.

The next time it happened (same cat), we repeated the trip to the door, the dropping of the mouse at the last moment, and the hiding of the mouse under the floor covering. This time it was late fall, and outside the snow had been falling for about an hour - big flakes in the quiet night, leaving a light fluffy blanket on the deck beyond the open door. The mouse was determined to stay under the flooring, evading my finger-prodding as he went left, then right, then left again. Suddenly he seemed to spy his escape route, and scampered to the centre of the doorway and hopped up on the sill.

For a moment he paused, then - just like a cartoon character from a Disney movie, I swear - he made a flying leap onto the snow-covered deck, then a series of leaps through the snow that took him to the top of the steps - and just like that, he was gone.

Only his miniature footprints in the snow were left to show that he was more than a figment of my imagination.

It was truly a magical moment to witness, and a memory that is bright and clear and warm in my mind.

Not so much for my cat, but that's okay. She got over it.

Fugit mus. Feles oblitus.*

*The mouse escaped. The cat forgot.

Courtesy of Google Translate, English to Latin. Because it's been 45 years since I constructed a sentence in Latin. And because we never got to write cool sentences like that. Instead, we wrote about "agricolae" and "urnae" (farmers and jars). I've never once wanted to write about farmers or jars in those 45 years. Just mice.

"I didn't forget. I'm just ... busy."



Jono said...

One of ours left a "gift" at the front door yesterday. It was about half of a red-backed vole. Yuck!

Steve Reed said...

LOL -- well, you remember more Latin than me. All I remember is "Veni, vidi, vici."

dinthebeast said...

Your cat looks surprisingly similar to our cat, at least color-wise. Briana used to be in charge of mouse rescue and relocation at a couple of different places we have lived. Her favorite trick for a while was to carry them in her sleeve to the outside garden dept. at Home Depot and let them go among the bedding plants. This worked quite well until once an enormous black security guard saw her and told her "I saw what you did" in an impossibly deep voice. After that, I don't think she went back there with any more mice.

-Doug in Oakland

Elephant's Child said...

I am glad your cat and mouse stories have had happier endings than mine.
We had a mouse in the house. Himself bad-mouthed the cats about it. The next morning while getting dressed for work he picked up his shoe - and a mouse head rolled out. They had definitely heard him.
On another occasion Jazz had a mouse in his (not gentle mouth). I took it away from him. He slashed my leg. Still with the mouse in hand I headed outside (shutting Jazz inside). The mouse fanged me. Deeply. Painfully. I set the mouse down and came back inside and dealt with the blood running down my hand. I am pretty sure Jazz was laughing at me.

Joanne Noragon said...

We've carried our cat outside to drop his mouse, too. The only micey casualty was found one morning. Our two cats worried one to death between them, and when their toy's battery quit, so did they. It's been years since we've had a cat that knew how to dispatch a mouse properly.

jenny_o said...

Well, now, you need to have a talk with that cat. That's only HALF a gift :)

jenny_o said...

It's crazy what bits and pieces are stuck inside our brains from years ago, isn't it?

jenny_o said...

That is a very enterprising way to deal with the strays! Until caught. I wouldn't go back either!

jenny_o said...

Oh. My. Adding insult to injury to injury ... I worried about getting a mouse bite so I didn't pick it up - and I used gardening gloves to poke and prod (gently). Did you have any after effects from the bite?

Chicken said...

That cat doesn't look that fierce but I guess if I was a mouse, I might feel differently. It's funny how certain moments stick in your mind. While I was reading your post, I was remembering a night visiting my parents when my stepmom discovered a little mouse in her cupboard. This woman is not timid-she has an iron backbone-but she does not like mice. Much hilarity ensued as several of us tried to rescue her. I discovered that in theory I quite like mice but in reality, I don't like touching them much.

jenny_o said...

I think the female cats may tend to play with them more. They are the ones who show the kittens how to catch prey, so I'm guessing they keep mice alive so their babies can learn with the real thing. Don't quote me on that, though. Maybe your cats are too well fed to be motivated to do more than play! I know ours are. See photo, again.

jenny_o said...

No, neither do I, and as Elephant's Child found out (above) they can bite hard. I used a gardening glove. Cute to look at (in my opinion, but then I had a hamster at one point and they look kinda the same) but dangerous to hold.

Elephant's Child said...

Lots of disinfectant was used. And it bled very freely so I think washed any groobies away.

jenny_o said...

Bleeding is good, sometimes. I'm glad you had no lasting issues.

Steve Reed said...

Absolutely! Oh, and "Amo, Amas, Amat, Amamus, Amatus, Amant." Is that right? Something like that.

See, I wish I'd taken French back then, when my brain was still absorbent!

jenny_o said...

I had to look it up before I could definitively say "yes" :) But, yes! Gold star!