The chuffin cat loves to invite guests in for a midnight feast. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a lottery as to whether the guest actually becomes the midnight feast; let’s just say the odds aren’t really in favour of the guest surviving the night intact. Not much of an invitation is it: “Come in for a bite.” Yet she seems to use that line successfully on a regular basis, much to everyone’s annoyance.
Last night was typical of many. Everyone had gone to bed and I was just finishing off my night time chores. The house was in a silent slumber, the calm before a storm. Unknown to me.
A loud rat-a-tat-tat pierced the air: the sound of the chuffin cat having squeezed her portly body through the inadequate cat flap. She approached me, her head hung low – a mark of respect for me perhaps? Don’t be daft. Her jaws were weighed down by a fat brown mouse which she gently deposited at my slippered feet. For a moment there was silence. She stared at me, I stared at the mouse and the mouse glanced furtively from each of us to the other and back.
Then all hell broke loose.
In scenes that could rival those in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, the mouse made a dash for it, hotly pursued by the chuffin cat, with me close behind. The difficulty with indoor rodent hunting at night is trying to keep the noise level to a minimum. Whilst the chuffin cat is always prepared to hurtle around at breakneck speed, tossing household objects riotously aside, I would prefer to let the rest of the household sleep. So whilst the chuffin cat’s mind was on playing rodent tag, mine was firmly on damage limitation and noise reduction.
After a while, we somehow managed to corner the mouse by the front door. I placed a shoe over it and dashed off to the kitchen to fetch a glass tumbler, trusting the chuffin cat to guard her new friend and not swallow him whole in my brief absence.
Upon my return, I discovered the chuffin cat still diligently guarding the upturned shoe, with the mouse sitting behind her blowing raspberries at her back. Clearly feeling somewhat brazen, the mouse then let out a high pitched <<squeak>>. As nimble as a ninja, the chuffin cat rotated her chunky body an entire 180 degrees in one pounce, glared at the mouse, and slapped him on the head with her paw. The mouse gave a loud, indignant (albeit slightly muffled) <<squeak>>. As he went to run, I bent down and slammed the glass to the floor in the hope of catching him. I peered down through the increasing darkness, and then gasped in horror: the mouse was going nowhere, but only because I had pinned him to the floor – his rear end inside the tumbler, his head and shoulders outside, with the rim of the glass bisecting his round belly. His little front feet were splayed either side of his head, and his face seemed to have an expression of, ‘well this is all rather awkward’.
The chuffin cat clearly appreciated this new game, clapping her fluffy paws together with glee.
I raised one side of the tumbler and with my toe I tried to nudge the mouse under the rim of the glass … to no avail. By this time, the chuffin cat had switched to hunting mode, the end of her tail flicking violently from left to right. I grabbed the shoe with one hand, whilst pinning the mouse under the glass with the other. Balancing precariously on one leg, I stuck out a foot to restrain the chuffin cat. I placed the shoe next to the mouse’s head and pushed gently to try and coax it into the glass. It was only when the mouse’s beady eyes began to bulge that I realised I hadn’t raised the glass and I was in fact still pinning him to the carpet, whilst now squashing his head between the shoe and the tumbler. His distended eyes met mine and in that moment we shared a common thought: ‘HELP!’
Meanwhile the chuffin cat began to miaow, enticing the mouse to come out and play as she wrestled my foot for access to her guest. Yes, that’s right: he was her guest after all.
With one final effort, I managed to coordinate the lifting of the glass with the shove of the shoe, and miraculously the mouse ended up under the tumbler. Not under the rim, but under the actual vessel. Had it not been the dead of night, I would have cheered loudly; but it was, so I didn’t. Instead I tossed the shoe aside and grabbed the nearest flat item – which happened to be son no 2’s DT folder from school – shoving it under the tumbler, thereby sealing the mouse in his glass holding cell. As he stood on his hind legs and placed his front feet on the side of the tumbler, I gave him a mini high five through the glass.
Opening the front door, I triumphantly carried him across the front garden in the tumbler, and threw him into the flower bed. He emitted a squeak of thanks (or maybe a rodent expletive, who knows?) and scurried off into the neighbouring woodland.
I went back indoors and wiped the mouse poo off son no 2’s DT folder. (“Sorry Sir, a mouse poo’d on my homework” … sounds better than last week’s excuse: “Sorry Sir, the cat threw up on my homework.”).
As I went off to bed, I noticed the chuffin cat sitting by the front door, staring intently at the discarded shoe … and that is exactly where I found her again the next morning, curled up in a ball snoring loudly and no doubt dreaming of midnight mayhem and squashed mice.