Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beast master

There is an incident involving two cats, a mouse, and a coffee table that has become legend in my relationship with Chris. The first year we lived together, we adopted two cats from the pound, Trip and Squeeze. Trip was a very laid back British shorthair tortie that liked to do her own thing and only exerted herself when there was something smaller than her scurrying around. Squeeze was a very skittish sweet cat who showed obvious signs of abuse and neglect when we adopted her. I think she lived with us for six months before I could scratch her on the head without her having an aneurysm.

Gradually, Squeeze warmed up to living with us and formed a little daily routine. She'd lay out on the cool concrete by our front door and occasionally go adventuring in our neighbor's vegetable garden. We lived in a tiny apartment that was part of a fourplex in the Garden District of Baton Rouge and the cats had the run of the postage stamp yard. When Squeeze was done lounging in the front yard, she would stand in front of our door and sing until someone let her in.

One lazy Saturday afternoon while Trip lounged on the couch with me, I heard a muffled meow at the front door. Thinking nothing of it, I opened the front door to find Squeeze standing on the welcome mat expectantly. She wouldn't come in and kept looking up at me which started to worry me. Then I realized that her lower jaw looked deformed, as in grossly swollen. What I didn't realize was that she was holding a dead mouse in her mouth that just happened to be gray like her. She dropped the mouse at my feet and looked up at me with adoring eyes as if to say, "I brought you a gift. Don't you love it?"

I stared down at the little rodent's carcass in horror. There were obvious puncture marks in its little body where Squeeze's teeth had just been and all I could do was wonder what the hell I was going to do with a dead mouse. Then it moved.

I slammed the door in my poor cat's face only to scream in horror as the mouse wriggled into the apartment under the door. I jumped onto the coffee table screaming my head off because a one ounce mouse was desperately trying to escape from my precious cat. I must have screamed for Chris to bring Trip into the room because he burst through the door with the cat under his arm frantic to find out what was wrong.

He nearly wet himself laughing when he saw the mouse. Trip managed to free herself from Chris and did what cats do best. The next thing I knew, Chris was opening the door and Trip was sauntering past Squeeze with her prize clutched in her mouth.

Poor Squeeze was trying to bring me a gift and I completely freaked out on her. She never brought me another live gift again.

Today, I was knitting quietly on the couch when I heard a frantic scratching at the front door. It was Dixie's cat, Pez, who never scratches or meows unless something's wrong. I threw the door open thinking that she was being chased by dogs only to have her charge in without so much as a by your leave. I had to step back or get trampled and when I did, my socked foot landed on something squishy.

Pez was scratching at the door because she was desperately trying to catch a lizard. By opening the door, I had just allowed that lizard into the house. Still wondering what that squishy thing was? I screamed like a B movie starlet and slammed the door. The cats both freaked out and scattered. The lizard took advantage of the mayhem and escaped under the umbrella stand. I stood across the room throwing cat toys at the stand in the hopes of alerting one of the cats to the lizard's hiding place. They were still too freaked out by my screaming to do anything other than stare at me like I was crazy.

Eventually I calmed down and let Pez go back outside. By the time I was calm enough to resume knitting, I spotted the lizard hiding in the corner of the room. I've seen what Etsuko does to lizards, and I didn't think I could stand to have it on my conscience if she caught this one. So I called Chris for a little encouragement and when he was done laughing he urged me to find a container to trap the little guy in so that I could release him outside.

I put on rubber gloves and ignored Chris's advice to bundle up in an apron if I was worried about the lizard jumping on me. I placed a small deli container over the lizard and slid a plastic plate over the top. The neighbor must have thought I was nuts when I walked out onto the porch clutching plasticware, wearing gloves and talking to myself. I'm pleased to say that the lizard managed to jump into the garden and disappear into the undergrowth.

Let it be a lesson to you all that I can face down cancer, but become a quivering mess when faced with something squirmy and small and scaly. Oddly enough, spiders and snakes don't bother me. Go figure.


Nancy said...

Ann, you are a total RIOT!!! Thanks for brightening my day. I can just picture all that happening! You should consider a future in writing short stories!! : ) love ya, n

Rene said...

OMG!!! That made me laugh so hard -- mostly because I can see myself doing this! I had a bird fly into my house once and you would have thought the place was full to the ceiling with venomous creatures the way I screeched!

Susan C said...

Hilarious story, Ann!

I'm the same way with mice. I love vermin as pets, BUT if I see an unexpected wild one, I will scream like a 2-year-old. I especially hate that half-dead, half-alive dilemma. I suppose someone should put the mouse out of its misery, but far be it from me to be the executioner.

susiegb said...

That was funny! I don't mind mice or lizards, but a spider is a completely different story! As far as I'm concerned, here in Australia the small ones are deadly and the big ones are very scarey! I'm really really scared of any spider that's bigger a teaspoon!

PJ said...

Great catch and release work! When we looked at our rental in Costa Rica for the first time, a lizard bolted out of the linen closet, and it was known forever after as the lizard closet. The realtor ran screaming down the hallway in 3-inch heels. Quite memorable.

I love lizard stories.

JAN'S PLACE said...

that was hilarious! poor cat was just giving you a gift, and could not understand why you weren't as excited about it as she was!


Michelle said...

You will always be a tough cookie in my books. I can't believe you had the guts to take the little lizard outside. :D

Jim said...


One of my most favorite posts ever. LOL! Kitties and Mice and Lizards, OH MY!

This line is some of the best imagery ever: "I screamed like a B movie starlet and slammed the door."

And the Oscar goes to ... Ann Gregory!

Paige said...

OMG, This is the funniest thing I've read in a long time!