Current Mood: accomplished
Last night was mouse night, and my previous predictions about which cats would eat the mice were incorrect!
Do not read this entry unless you are prepared to see pictures of dead mice being eaten! You have been warned!
Gory details (and photos!) protected behind the cut…
I got the e-mail that the mice had been delivered early yesterday afternoon. During a lull at work I drove over to pick them up, and brought them back to my house. Here are pictures of the bags of dead mice in my freezer in the garage.
There were actually two more bags deeper in the freezer, for a total of four bags. I ordered two bags of large mice, and two bags of extra-large mice. Before heading back to work I selected six large mice and put them in a zip lock bag in the garage to thaw. I chose to only thaw six of them because I was pretty sure that Rasputin was not going to be interested in the mice.
I got home for the evening after running and racquetball at the gym. I was excited to make the experiment! Initially, my biggest concern was trying to keep the cats in the kitchen while they ate their mice. In the past, when eating chicken wings, some cats would become protective of their wing, growling at the other cats while they held the wing in their mouth. They would often try to escape out of the kitchen so they could, I presume, devour their prey in a more secluded setting, free from the prying eyes of other cats. Nevermind that every cat had their own chicken wing, this was apparently still a concern for some of them.
In light of this, I had already decided that I wasn’t going to feed all of the cats simultaneously — I figured wrangling that many cats would be much too difficult. Instead I chose the four cats that I thought would devour their mice quickly, reasoning that I could just stand guard at the edge of the kitchen while they wolfed the mice down. I locked up Dora and Domino in another room, and went to the kitchen with Felix, Matilda, Wilbur, and Dusty. Rasputin also came, because he never causes any problems anyway. I figured I’d show him a mouse to see what he thought.
I went out to to the garage and arranged mice on the cats’ food plates.
Why five? So that Raspo would have one to check out while the other four were eating. I figured I’d just give his to Dora or Domino, since I suspected the most he would do is sniff it.
Here is a closeup of one of the mice!
I should mention at this point that while I wasn’t feeling particularly squeamish about the mice, it was making me sad seeing the dead mice. I felt bad for them. Yes, I was feeling sorry that these mice had to die. I also escort spiders out of the house! I am what I am. Anyway…
I brought the mice inside and presented them to the cats. I was quite surprised to see that Felix and Matilda had no interest in theirs. Matilda barely glanced at hers, while Felix sniffed his briefly and then meowed for food. Rasputin, as I expected, sniffed his and walked away. Wilbur and Dusty, however, immediately picked up their mice.
Dusty tried to escape with his mouse.
Stymied, Dusty pondered his next move.
I was encouraged, but it quickly became clear that Dusty and Wilbur were just playing with their mice, and not actually eating them. They’d carry them, drop them, paw them, throw them in the air, and then pounce on them. I waited for a while, but no eating was taking place.
I picked up the mice and considered my next move. Since Wilbur and Dusty were the only ones who showed any interest, I decided to focus on them, and I secluded Felix and Matilda in another room. So now it was just me, Wilbur, Dusty, and Raspo in the kitchen. One idea I’d heard about was to rub some of their normal food on the mouse, to help them recognize it as food. So I got out their meat snack and smeared some on each mouse. I put the mice back on the floor and that did the trick! Dusty and Wilbur began to voraciously consume their mice.
Dusty and Wilbur polished off their mice entirely, including head, paws, and tail. Oddly, Dusty’s mouse left behind a smear of blood on the floor, while Wilbur’s area was considerably cleaner. However, I cleaned the floor, locked up Wilbur and Dusty, and then let Felix and Matilda out. I tried the meat trick with them. Matilda was still not interested. Felix began to lick and paw at his mouse, but it eventually became clear that he was just eating the meat snack that was on the mouse, and leaving the mouse itself intact.
At this point I was a little discouraged, but it occurred to me that maybe the problem was that this mouse did not resemble anything Felix or Matilda had ever eaten before. With the chicken wings, it was still just meat and bones. I got the bright (and gross) idea that I should cut open the mice a little bit, so that the cats could see the innards and therefore be tempted. This may be the grossest thing I’ve done for the cats. I made an incision along the stomachs of the two mice, and in a complicated surgical procedure I even managed to stuff the mice with a little of the cats’ meat snack. I was confident this would do the trick.
Wrong! Matilda, again, had no interest. Felix inspected his, licked it very briefly, but then gave up.
However, in a surprise move, Rasputin was interested in Matilda’s mouse! He ambled over and began chowing down. He even did a little tearing, pulling some of the mouse innards out.
When Rasputin was done, he hadn’t really tried to eat much of the mouse itself. He ate all of the meat, and some amount of the guts. But a lot of mouse was left…
I decided to give Dora and Domino a crack at these two mice. I locked up Felix and Matilda (after feeding them some meat snack, since they obviously were not going to be dining on mice that evening) and released Dora and Domino. I re-stuffed the two mice with some meat snack, but other than a little playing and carrying around, they did not take a great interest in their mice. Dora did eat the meat snack off her mouse, though. In the end she was very reluctant to let me take hers, but she wasn’t eating it.
I fed Dora and Domino some meat snack, and decided that I would feed the two spurned mice to Dusty and Wilbur. I added some meat snack to them, released Dusty and Wilbur, and watched them devour their second mice of the night. Dusty was kind enough to eat his over a plate this time.
Needless to say, Dusty and Wilbur were the only cats who didn’t need to be given meat snack last night, since they dined handsomely on mice.
Once dinner was done, I scrubbed down the kitchen. I had two uneaten mice, but I hadn’t put any meat on them or otherwise molested them, so I put them back in a zip lock bag and put them in the refrigerator. My plan is to feed them on Friday night.
In the worst case, I can just feed the mice to Dusty and Wilbur every two or three days, to supplement their diets. But I am still holding out hope that the others cats can be trained. One tactic I’ve used when switching food in the past is just making sure the cat is hungry. I may attempt that this weekend. I can offer mice on Friday evening, and if they decline to eat them, I will let them skip the meal and offer the mice again on Saturday morning. It doesn’t hurt the cats to skip a meal, and often it is a good way to convince them to eat something that may be unfamiliar. I may not try that tactic with Rasputin since he is a little older and set in his ways, and he has health issues. But the other cats are all young, spry, healthy, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t like the mice.
I’m also going to try the extra large mice on Dusty and Wilbur on Friday, I think. They seem game.
Okay, well, that’s my dead mouse adventure so far. It wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be, apart from being sad about the dead mice. Oh, and cutting them open. It didn’t make me sick, but I am pretty sure it’s the grossest thing I’ve done for the cats. Oh well, the things I do for love!