My cat Squeak is quite the hunter, and earlier in the week she successfully wounded a field mouse. The poor, frightened critter sought refuge under the chair in my front room. Bright an early Thursday morning – one of the few days I could actually have slept in – my youngest daughter came scrambling into my room.
“Mom, Squeak got a mouse and it’s still alive.”
I rubbed my eyes, found my bathrobe, and half-stumbled down the stairs to assess the situation. There was my cat; tail up, back rigid, swatting under the chair she was too large to navigate beneath. She was determined. Deep, guttural growls emanated from some evil recess in her body. I tipped over an empty laundry basket and threw it over her to keep her from ripping me to shreds.
When I lifted the chair, I found a small, brown mouse. A terrified look filled his eyes and he tried to crawl away, but his back had been broken and his hind legs were now dead weight that slowed him down.
“Grab that box,” I said, nodding toward an empty gift box on my kitchen table. I carefully scooped the damaged mouse up from my carpet and set him inside the box. “The poor thing probably won’t be alive when I get home from work,” I told my daughter. She gave a solemn nod.
But I couldn’t throw the little guy in the garbage. I carried the box to my room, and then borrowed supplies from our pet mouse Alice. I put bedding in, found a small sewing kit and emptied the thread out of it, filled it with water on one side and mouse food on the other. Why did I do this? I don’t know, but I couldn’t kill the mouse.
I realized quickly that the poor mouse couldn’t drink from the makeshift bowl, so I got an eyedropper and fed it water that way. I left for work and expected to come home four hours later to a dead rodent. But the little guy was still alive. I picked it up, supported his little body, and he ate a small piece of bread. We worked like this for three days. I even added a tiny bit of Tylenol to his water. Yes, Dr. B., I washed my hands after handling him. And yes, I used the 30 second rule and used antibacterial soap.
Saturday night I realized that things weren’t going to be okay. Stewie, as my youngest had named him, was losing energy, and this morning I found him dead. It seems a very silly thing. I know it was a field mouse – vermin, as my husband would say. But I couldn’t bring myself to kill this creature. He may have been suffering, but he didn’t writhe or act as if he was in pain. I am hoping that I gave the poor thing an easier passing somehow, and if the Hindus have it right, maybe I did both of our karmas a little good.
This will make a great scene in a book. I’ve already got a place for it.