I hadn’t really thought it through properly, had I?
It has been a long, hard battle; over twelve years and counting; to control the problem. No, not mice – the cats!
When we moved into this house, whilst aware that the property had lain empty for over two years, we never imagined that, in that time, the local cat population would have, in our garden, established a de-facto latrine.
We were completely unprepared for the daily visit from every Moggie within prowling distance. Their right to befoul the entire area was never in doubt, in their minds at least. The derision with which they treated any human daring to enter their domain was, in equal measure, both frustrating and funny. Finding their little, fetid “presents” snuggled amongst the plants, underfoot, sprayed in your face, as the lawnmower picked up a fresh one, was only the former…
So, it began. Not so much a war; more a gentle, if protracted, battle of attrition.
It started with “cat repellent” plants. Like that was ever going to work! The fabled Coleus Candida “Scaredy Cat” ruffled not a single whisker; “Curry herb” and “Lemon balm” was joyously rolled in; “Rosemary” was nested under, and as for “Lavender” – well, it just gave up the ghost at the earliest opportunity… “They don’t like citrus peel / glass bottles half filled with water / onion juice / garlic / pepper / vinegar / essential oils / priest cassocks…”, friends suggested. Well, everything except the cassock, but I had one of those lying around and everything was worth a try. All completely, utterly, useless in deterring even the most timorous cat.
I refused to fall for the notion that lion faeces might work. For a start, that would just result in big cat poo all over the garden rather than standard cat poo. Anyway, I was want to know, where are all these lions that are having their faecal matter harvested on an industrial scale?
Things were getting desperate. It was time to end this, once and for all!
Technology was the future. I needed a sonic gun! When it arrived, it was with some glee that I fired off the first shot, and, elated, watched as the big ginger tom leapt four feet in the air. Glee turned to despair, however, when he landed, sat, and proceeded to groom himself. I fired again. He looked round, nonchalant and haughty, observing, with no small level of disgust, the puny human with his ineffective ordnance.
So, for the past five years, we have lived an uneasy truce. They, with little interest, barely glancing at the human interlopers, other than to confirm they weren’t within “bucket of water throwing” distance before entering; we, or, more correctly, me, shouting obscenities that the cats ignored and the neighbours grew to accept as normal behaviour at No. 8.
Then. Miraculously. Round about October time. A NEW electronic device appeared on the market (which was just in time, really: Taser was next on the list…) It proved to be so sensitive that it took, literally, days to find the perfect location: one with the least possibility of random plant movement setting it off. They merely looked, askance, at this new object and its (alleged) annoyance, and, nevertheless, continued to execute their daily ablutions. It was no use. I surrendered! weeping, hopelessly, waving the white flag of the utterly defeated.
In that defeat, I largely forgot about the silent, apparently ineffective, electronic watchman. The regulars were observed, intermittently, wandering through the gate but, it being winter, we failed to notice when the miracle happened. The only clue, that the blighters were no longer turning up, was the blessed absence of evidence! We might have the occasional visitor, but for all intents and purposes, the war was won!
So, I hear you ask, why on earth has he chosen a field mouse to illustrate this sorry tale? Ah. Well. That’s where the title comes in. The scales may have tipped. There he was this morning, calm as you like, washing his whiskers in the spring sunshine flooding into the kitchen.
We may need to get a cat…