Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mouse Rescue

My cats hunt in a pack. It's fascinating to watch. Sometimes they hunt all four together, and sometimes just two or three. They do solitary hunting too, but it's amazing to me the coordinating they have to do when hunting together. They seem to have a good, silent system of communication or a well-rehearsed plan. Watching them encircle a target and sneak up on it from four directions is pretty amazing. I wonder how they decide who gets to strike first and who moves where. Last night I came home to find Ophelia and Lizzie tag teaming a mouse, taking turns tossing him around.

My cats are well fed, and hunt only out of instinct. Birds and mice. I have bells on them to give the birds a chance, but they still get several magpies a year, and once in awhile a mouse. Once I pried Oscar's jaws open and an unpunctured bird flew away. The mice I receive as gifts from the cats are always perfectly intact, unpunctured, so they must die of fright or internal injuries. I love all animals so I hate to see any dead ones, but I have come to accept owning predators means a few of those lower on the food chain die. Nature is harsh, especially on the little guy. I can't keep the cats indoors because they are miserable in prison. The manx cats in particular INSIST on going out and are utterly miserable if not allowed to do so. The rule is they have to come in before dark so they don't get eaten by the local fox or get in any alley fights.

Anyway, last night's victim, a rather chunky mouse, was still alive, but appeared to be in shock. I removed the cats one at a time and put them in the house, then went back to assess the mouse. I picked him up, tried to calm and reassure him, and waited to see if he'd revive. Mice are so darn cute. I petted him and waited for him to recover his senses. After a few minutes he wanted to be released so I set him in a safe location and watched him scurry away. I hope he makes it - it had to be a terrifying experience, but I saw no outward injuries. He did seem stunned for a few seconds but then okay.

Poor little guy. Ophelia and Lizzie were just being cats and were quite pleased with themselves. I can't blame them for being true to their instincts. This is the third mouse rescue this summer. There were two who didn't get rescued and were presented as gifts. It's a fascinating thing that domestic cats will hunt in packs, and will gift their kills to their owners. Very interesting animal behavior indeed.

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