A (TOY)       MOUSE

Simon Teakettle III 


Many humans are under the impression that every cat knows how to kill a mouse. 

This isn't true. We have to learn this important skill from our mothers, and some kittens who don't stay long enough with their moms, or whose moms never learned what to do with a mouse, have no idea how to act when they see a small grey blob with a long tail skittering across the floor. 

Nobody knows (and I don't remember) how I learned my technique, but my mother must have taught me very well, because we have no real mice in this house to practice on.

I have been asked to describe my method for any kittens who have no idea what to do with the furry toy mice they may have received in their Christmas stockings. These seem to be popular gifts, along with balls that jingle, although I happen to think balls are boring.

Rodents are a cat's natural food. This fact often surprises bird-lovers, who think cats are responsible for the decline in the songbird population. That's not true. Cats will chase birds for fun, as they chase butterflies, frogs, or anything else that moves, but when they hunt, they hunt for small rodents.

Eating a bird is awful. All those feathers, and when you get to the body, it's very small and full of tiny bones! A mouse, however, has lots of meat and fat. But first you have to remove the fur.

That's where my technique comes in handy. (You can stop reading now, ladies, if you're getting queasy).

First, of course, you have to catch the mouse. Since mine don't run away, this is an exercise in feline imagination. I hide behind the recliner, poking my head around the corner just enough to see where the latest victim might be sitting. These mice are not only fake, they're dumb. They don't even hide, but sit right in the middle of the rug.

Then I dash around the corner, pounce on the little fur being, toss it into the air, catch it in my paws, bat it around the room, and if it lands behind or under a piece of furniture, so much the better, as that makes the chase more interesting.

Here's where some humans don't understand the process. If you happen to have a cat who fetches (as I do!) you often expect him to bring the mouse to you right away.

That's not the way it works. Just think about it: would you want your barn cat to bring every mouse he catches, still writhing and squirming, and drop it into your lap?

I thought not.

The same rule applies to toy mice. They have to be "killed" first, and only when we've exhausted every possible way to torture the tiny bit of cotton stuffing covered with shaggy polyester are we inclined to bring it to you.

I, however, being Terzo (and trying to out-perform The Magnificent Tiki), have taken this one step further. Fur-trappers don't try to sell the whole fox or mink or otter. No, it's the fur that's valuable to humans.

So when I receive a new mouse, I first skin it, then deposit the naked, pale canvas body into one of my secret stashes (Bobbi discovered one of these under the low brown ottoman, but my other hiding places are still intact). I figure you never know when you might need a few mouse carcasses to share with friends.

Then, I "kill" the fur-covered skin. Eventually, this is what is lovingly deposited into Bobbi's lap, often when she's deeply involved in reading something.

Plop! The little fur piece, still damp with my saliva, graces her book or file folder.

I have even been known to bring one of my "kills" onto the bed in the middle of the night, just to show her that I've been on duty while she's been sleeping.

Tiki (my Magnificent predecessor and rival) preferred soft rubber snakes to mice. I find snakes less challenging. However Tiki did exhibit some interesting technique when he attacked these. He would first bite the head off (smart cat!) and then toss the snake up into the air repeatedly. I guess that's to make them dizzy. Who knows?

He would then chew on them until they fell into pieces, and eventually ended up in the garbage. When Bobbi wasn't able to find him some new snakes, she bought a soft green rubber lizard. Tiki not only bit off the head, but the tail and each of the feet.

That was, presumably, so the lizard couldn't run away.

None of this talk of mice and snakes should present the wrong impression. None of us in the famous line of Simon Teakettles every attacked birds or squirrels. The story of how Tiki made friends with the squirrels who live in our maple tree is now famous. You can read it on the Cat Facts page.

Be sure to read this to your cat, just in case he doesn't know what to do with that toy mouse you put in his Christmas stocking. And don't throw away any scraps of fur you may see lying around the house.

Those are our trophies!

If you should happen to want to copy or forward these instructions, please contact us for permission:  terzo at