No self-respecting hunter would settle for small game when there are larger trophies to be gotten.
So Laika, the Brooklyn street tabby named after a Russian space dog, has tired of crickets and moved on to warm-blooded prey.
Hardly more than a kitten when she joined our household, she has matured into a substantial presence and a gifted mouser. And we very much appreciate her service in rodent control.
Mind you, I have nothing against an occasional city mouse. It’s the country ones that vex me.
My Ozark cabin is unoccupied for serious stretches, sometimes a month or more, especially in the hard winter months when the weather closes down and the fishing is finished.
But after that long vacancy, sweet spring arrives at last and I’m eager to go there again. Almost always, though, I find I’ve had visitors who have left surprises behind.
One April they managed to make their way onto a shelf above the stove and open a plastic bag of uncooked macaroni. Every shoe in the closet, every pocket of trousers or coat, was filled with a crunchy gift.
Two whole rolls of bathroom tissue had been chewed to make fluff for nesting material in a dresser drawer. A bar of soap in a dish by the shower was devoured almost completely.
Condiments and spices in tins and jars were unviolated. And as nearly as I could tell, the rag rugs woven by my mother some 50 years ago had been spared.
From time to time I tried my luck at trapping. My luck was bad. First I tried spring traps, baited with peanut butter. More often than not, the damnable thing snapped shut on my finger.
Both our daughters are devoted to animal rescue. Not just selectively. All animals, even spiders and flies.
So my next attempt was with an elaborate and rather expensive non-lethal device. Though the trap was sprung, not a crumb of the cheese I’d placed artfully on the trigger mechanism remained.
The mouse in the little wire cage appeared well fed and pleased with the arrangement.
But back to the city mice.
I’m quite fond of our cat, Laika, and grateful for her talent and her dedication. I only wish she weren’t so inclined to flaunt her successes.
A cold mouse under a bare foot on a nighttime bedroom floor is not conducive to untroubled sleep.
Then morning comes and another is discovered between the bed and the bureau. And finally there’s a commotion on the stair.
The small, long-tailed beast is briefly glimpsed, slipping between the bannister slats and leaping to the hallway floor below. He’s good, but my wife is better.
“I have him!” she cries.
She has captured him under a paper cup.
Released by the front walk, seeming quite uninjured, he scurries under some fallen leaves. Laika doesn’t eat mice. She values them as toys.
How do they gain entry? We think it must somehow be through the air conditioner mounted near the ground on the south outer wall of my office. And they’re only occasional trespassers — not enough to be called an infestation.
They’ve done no damage we know of. And our house, while in no way ostentatious, is a good deal more spacious than my country cabin.
It should be large enough for us all.
For more of C.W. Gusewelle, go to gusewelle.kansascity.com.