Pets Earning Their Keep

Defending the homefront

So this just happened.

While suburbia encroaches, we still live in a rural area. We have three cats, Charlie the golden, Onyxia the black, and Spirit the old gray lady. Weather permitting, we leave the door open a cat's-width for them to go in and out. Sometimes other critters get in, usually flies, but one time a possum! So, the perimeter of our old house is not entirely secure.

Besides the border gaposis, having cats also means fur on comfy chairs (usually covered with a protective sheet when not being used by humans). Having cats means expenses, vet, wet and dry food, and kitty litter. Now and then the cats will bring in one of their hunting trophies, sometimes still alive. We have had to chase after birds, mice, and lizards they've released inside. Also, we humans collect our share of scars from tooth and claw of our feline housemates. There's even the worry that one might not come home, when we gather them in at night. And the heartbreak, when one of them dies, runs deep. You might wonder, with all that trouble and expense, why have cats?

Ours are working farm critters, not merely pampered pets. (I pause to wistfully miss our Defender Doggie.) It's unpleasant to see cardinal feathers on the porch, but we know they also keep the rodent vermin population down (that's foreshadowing), as well as chasing off feral felines encroaching on our territory. Sometimes a frog or a snake gets in the house, and, while they won't eat it, they alert us to it with meowing and a "pointing" stalking pose.

Charlie, sleepingToday we were changing the sheets on the bed, when, out from behind the head of the bed runs a modest-size mouse, right in front of me. Ran under the nearby massage table (one of our few luxuries). I ran over and grabbed Charlie from where he was soundly sleeping, and threw him behind the table, repeatedly telling Charlie to "catch the mouse! Mouse!" Our old cats do have some vocabulary, "mouse" being one word they all seem to recognize. While Charlie sniffed around, I began pulling out storage boxes and baskets stored under the table, although I thought by that point that the mouse had probably scooted further away.

Mouse, running

I was still pulling out boxes when I saw the mouse tail drooping from Charlie's mouth; quick work! I picked Charlie up, telling him not to drop the mouse (heh), and put him out the front door. He sat there a moment; I thought, he's disappointed the chase wasn't any longer. Then he dropped it, but the mouse was at this point well past play mode; dead. So, Charlie began chowing down and I left him to his grisly meal.

When he was ready to come back in, we applauded and praised him.

I'll probably still complain about cleaning the litterbox, but it's just part of the price we pay for having our mighty hunter housemates.