Saturday, April 16, 2011
The Day Herbert Came Home
His name is Herbert. Here is the story of how he came to live with me.
It was in August 2004, that I first noticed I was getting mice in the house. I mentioned this to Mom as we were visiting in the pleasant courtyard at her nursing home, and she sympathised with me . One of the ladies sitting with us recommended I leave poison for the mice. Mice in the house multiply, and I could be in for an infestation if I didn't take action immediately.
Poison wasn't an option for me, because I lived with a wonderful older Sheltie, and I couldn't risk him eating the poison .I looked into mouse traps. Interestingly, I learned that this year many householders all over the city were buying mouse traps. It seemed that the city had a mouse problem.
I chose the simplest wooden spring operated kind of trap, as they were relatively inexpensive, and I planned to throw them out. I didn't intend to re-use mouse traps, being very squeamish about catching mice to start with.
The weekend I bought the traps, I also spent clearing the kitchen cupboards , throwing out things which were showing evidence of mouse visitations, and washing everything I could with bleach solution. Next came setting the traps with peanut butter, and cheese for bait.
The first morning I needed to check my traps, I looked in a cupboard to see a small killed mouse. I closed the door, and just danced around with my hand over my mouth, feeling terrible. However I soon established my routine of disposing of these mice. I did consider it might be more humane to use a trap which caught the mouse live, and then I could send it back to the field, but at the time this seemed the quickest answer to my mouse problem.
After several weeks I had to conclude that my mouse problem was growing. Possibly because my old house had several cracks and holes in it's foundation, the mice kept coming in from the field, just behind the house. Larry, a wonderful older neighbour, recommended that I stuff any holes with steel wool, including any under my sink, so I did this.
By late September I began to wonder if a cat might help me in my fight to rid the house of mice. I'd been without a cat for 2 years and missed feline company. Mom, who also loved cats agreed this might be a good idea.
The first weekend in October I headed to a local pet store which hosts animals for adoption through the Humane Society .I thought I might look for a small, black female cat.There were four beautiful cats available for adoption. A largish ginger cat, given the name Benny, appeared to be patiently resting. He jumped up to greet a woman, and young girl, who talked with him and he batted a ball playfully. The woman said she'd been visiting him for some time, and that he needed to be adopted because he'd been there for weeks.So I decided, that he'd go home with me.
I didn't have a carrier, and asked the store if they might have a box I could use to transport my new cat home. So he growled quite fiercely all the way home in this box. We got home, and I cautiously opened the box, and this lovely animal graciously jumped out, and stood taking in his surroundings, with as gentle a demeanor as you could please My dear, old Sheltie seemed unalarmed - and then the ginger cat did quite a remarkable thing. He jumped up onto my shoulder and purred.
That evening I decided on his name - Herbert seemed to me a dignified kind of name, and this cat seemed to possess a quiet dignity and gentleness.The next morning Herbert led me to the basement, and showed off his catch - there on the basement floor lay a small dead mouse. I was in business.I felt as though he was telling me, he would be happy to be the resident mouser. That year he killed many mice for me, but his real value lay in his gentle spirit.
Herbert likes people, never running to hide when guests arrive. My sister and I were shocked when he jumped onto her shoulder the first time they met. He has made friends with quite a few humans, and always seems to get along with any animals who come to visit. - and has accepted two new pets to come into our home in the last two years.
Herbert is about ten years old now, and has gained some pounds, and doesn't jump onto my shoulder now.
We now live in an apartment building, with no mice to hunt - and Herbert spends his days looking out the window, wrestling with the young cat, and is always ready for cuddling. I feel blessed to live with this benign, gracious creature.