Mouse trap, or new developments in Siamese economics

Photo Molly, my cat, has had a really exciting summer.  First, the mice.  We live in an old house with lots of crevices and crannies, and mice whistle right in. 

As the nights have got a little cooler, there’s a new generation out there who’s experiencing "chilly" for the first time, and several have decided to relocate to that lovely big warm wooden box at the end of the garden.  Our house.

Molly waits for them just at their favorite entry point.  Right to the  side of the stove.  She sits there for hours, and when her patience is rewarded she comes up stairs to share her good fortune with Pam and me. 

She doesn’t mind that we’re sleeping.  She gives us plenty of time to rouse ourselves, hurling the poor wee mouse up in the air repeatedly till we do.  For the next 40 minutes or so, roughly the period 3:20 to 4:00 in the morning, it’s kinda like our pet has a pet. 

Molly follows the mouse.  She noses the mouse.  She exhorts the mouse.  But most of all she shares the mouse.  I think she feels Pam and I have been so generous with her, it’s only fair. 

The other big news this summer for Molly has been the introduction of canned food.  She used to eat dry food only but we decided that something meatier was called for.  Something, say, like Purina Pro Plan Selects Classic Adult Natural Turkey and Wild Rice Entree Plus Essential Vitamins and Minerals with  Real Turkey as the Number One Ingredient!  Huge hit.  I am the keeper of the can, the human who knows the art of opening.  And Molly takes new precautions, now marking me across the shins anytime I’m in the kitchen.  I mean, what if she had to find me in a crowd of balding, middle-aged anthropologists?  Better safe than sorry.  Mark him once.  Mark him twice. 

I feed Molly a couple of times a day, once in the morning, once in the evening.  I open the can.  I take out half a serving and place it in her dish.  I set the dish just in front of the stove in the kitchen.  Molly chows down with gusto.  (Dry food.  Girlfriend, please.)   

Here’s what’s odd.  I’ve noticed that the first serving disappears almost immediately.  The second, the evening serving, that often gets left.  There could be lots of explanations for this.  Molly is probably hungrier in the mornings than in the afternoon.  She’s breaking a bigger fast.

But I don’t think that’s it.  No, battling a cold the last few days as giving me a chance to see Molly in action.  Keeping her vigil by the stove through the night, and there sitting beside her always was her  half finished meal.  Finally, it hit me.   She isn’t neglecting that afternoon meal.  She’s using it as bait.  She uses it to send a message to those mice in the field.  That big wooden box isn’t just warm.  Good eats, too!   Peckish?  Perhaps you’d like some Purina Pro Plan Selects Classic Adult Natural Turkey and Wild Rice Entree Plus Essential Vitamins and Minerals. with Real Turkey as the Number One Ingredient!  Pull up a chair!  Come on down!

What a clever little creature.  Molly forgoes one meal to make another.  But mice are vastly more than meals for her.  They are opportunities to exercise her hunting skills, an entertaining nocturnal diversion, and, perhaps most important, a way to entertain Pam and Grant.  In Molly’s economy, mice have high value and diverse value.  When she treats her dinner as bait, she engages in a process of value conversion.  She turns mere food into real fun not to mention a lovely gift for Grant and Pam. 

Image: Molly and me about 3 years ago when she wasn’t many months old.  Boy was she tired. 

 

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