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23 November 2009

Trilby's breakfast This morning when I opened the pantry cupboard in my kitchen I found a mouse lying dead in a trap on the bottom shelf. I showed the still-trapped mouse to the cat as a way of educating Trilby as to his responsibilities. [More:]And SNAP! The cat had the mouse in his jaws. Oh no. I didn't want him eating the mouse, because he might get worms, and I sure didn't want to find any mouse parts lying around anywhere. I tried pulling on the trap. I tried picking up the cat and shaking him lightly. I pulled on the trap again. All I succeeded in doing was pulling the trap free, leaving the mouse in the catís jaws. And Trilby was not giving up that mouse. He tried running up the stairs, but with visions of me finding a partially devoured mouse in my bed dancing in my head, I nabbed the cat and brought him back to the kitchen.

Trilby then proceeded to take refuge under the kitchen table and make a sort of low humming noise. I think he was trying to growl. (Trilbyís deaf, so his vocalizations are kind of messed up.) I left him alone, not knowing what else to do, and then after a few minutes of being left in peace he started eating the mouse. I didnít look, but I heard him munching and crunching away, and the breaking and splintering of tiny bones. It took him maybe one minute to eat that mouse, tail and all. There wasnít so much as a whisker left lying underneath the table. Then Trilby scampered happily out from under the table and tried to get my breakfast. Uh, no. I think youíve had yours, pussycat.

I think the question of whether Trilby is a mouser has been resolved. If he sees a mouse, heís not exactly going to try to befriend it.
Better yet, he's eating the mouse! Infinitely preferable to having a mouser that likes to show up on your bed with a "look what I've done" little gift for you.
posted by gaspode 23 November | 10:03
Of course, you may find some half-eaten mouse bits around. That's no fun.
posted by gaspode 23 November | 10:04
Reminds me of how my cat used to slip in through the open bedroom window while I was asleep. And hide under the bed with his dove and wake me up with the sounds of him crunching on the bones. Such a nice awakening.
posted by jouke 23 November | 10:07
Trilby seems next to indifferent to his dry cat food, and usually doesn't finish the full bowl I give him every night. But man does he like to eat, or to try to eat, everything else edible. Every meal I have is a battle of wills with him trying to get my food and me pushing him away from it or spraying him. He's getting the idea that I want him to stay away from my food, but now he sits there and whines while I eat. He eats any crumbs that fall on the floor. And I have to keep chasing him out of the sink because he tries to lick the residue off the dishes.

I give him a little packet of wet cat food every Sunday as a treat and he completely loses it at the first sight of the food and gobbles it down without taking time to breathe.
posted by Orange Swan 23 November | 10:14
I can't believe this wasn't accompanied by some gruesome photos.
posted by JanetLand 23 November | 11:08
He, jouke, I've been awoken by a live bird my cat had brought in. That's not a nice way to wake up, either.
posted by mrmoonpie 23 November | 11:12
Ugh, yeah, and then when you're about to set it free you notice that it's entrails are hanging out. And then you're wondering what to do...
posted by jouke 23 November | 11:20
[shudders at the bird stories]

Fortunately Trilby is strictly an indoor cat and won't be catching anything other than mice.
posted by Orange Swan 23 November | 11:40
We've had three cats and only one has ever been enough of a mouser to eat any part of said mouse. And, even then, she'd take just the head and leave us the body. Our current cat seems to prefer simply killing them and then stashing the body in some hiding place for us to smell and find.
posted by Thorzdad 23 November | 12:38
My former cat liked the killing part, but not the eating part so much. So occasionally I would find little damp mouses with broken necks lying around. Nothing like stepping on one of those in the dark.
posted by Miko 23 November | 14:16
Yay, Trilby!
posted by Ardiril 23 November | 14:34
I love that Trilby is totally busting out with the personality and asserting and inserting himself chez Swan's End. I love that you wanted a mouser, and got a mouser and that he aggressively covets your dinner. I see many happy years of energizing and affectionate battles of wills and wits between you two.

♥ Trilby!
posted by taz 23 November | 14:47
also, more pix?
posted by taz 23 November | 14:48
I still get the feeling Trilby is settling in, because his behaviour is still changing. It took him a week to start playing with his mouse toy, and it was another week after that before he would use his cat bed. He still isn't using the cat scratcher I bought him last week, but hopefully he will once he gets used to it.

And at first he wouldn't sit in my lap, but now he will, and he'll even curl up and have a nap. He didn't like being picked up and still doesn't seem to, but if I pick him up and cuddle him he'll snuggle against me for a minute or two.

I find it really interesting to see how he lives life without being able to hear. I'm been working on trying to get him to recognize hand signals. If I wiggle my fingers at him, that means "come over here and I'll pet you", and he usually will come to me when I do that. If I pat my lap or a seat beside me, that means "jump up and sit here/there", and he's been doing that too. If I point, that means, "move away from where you are/go there" (this one I usually use when I want him to get off the kitchen counter), and he does that fairly regularly also.

He's quite vocal and cries to get attention and I don't know what he thinks he's doing when he cries or how he imagines I pick up on it.

What really amazes me is how he can figure out whether I'm in the house. A week or two ago I came home from work ill. Trilby is always in the kitchen when I get home — the kitchen is very much his territory. Usually I'll go straight into the kitchen and get some supper, and Trilby sees me and starts crying to be petted and fussed over. But that night, since I wasn't feeling well, I thought I would just go upstairs and have a nap without having to deal with the cat, and that I would get some supper and do the Trilby-bonding thing when I woke up.

So I came through the front door into the downstairs hallway. The coast was clear — no cat in sight. I went straight upstairs and down the hall to my room, and just as I got into my room I heard an indignant yowl from behind me. Somehow Trilby had known immediately that I was in the house despite the fact that he could neither hear nor see me. My guess is that he either felt vibrations in the floor or that he smelled me. I've tried that a few more times and Trilby always knows within two minutes that I'm home.
posted by Orange Swan 23 November | 15:47
I find it really interesting to see how he lives life without being able to hear. I'm been working on trying to get him to recognize hand signals. If I wiggle my fingers at him, that means "come over here and I'll pet you", and he usually will come to me when I do that. If I pat my lap or a seat beside me, that means "jump up and sit here/there", and he's been doing that too.

Those two seem to be fairly universal cat signals, whether the cat can hear or not. I've always used the finger-wiggling or rubbing fingers together to say "come here and get petted, and they do seem to understand the lap-pat as well regardless of hearing. The last one I haven't really tried, but in reading about cat behavior I did learn that cats will direct their attention to whatever the animals (including people) around them find interesting - you can imagine how useful that awareness would be in hunting. So when you're reading the paper, they like to jump up and see what's so interesting. When you're staring out the window, they check it out too. When you're typing, they like to lay down on the keyboard and monitor the happenings. When they're awake, they're pretty much driven by evolution to be interested in what you're apparently interested in, and that might underlie the pointing.

He's quite vocal and cries to get attention and I don't know what he thinks he's doing when he cries or how he imagines I pick up on it


When I worked with deaf students I was really surprised how noisy they were. I commented on it to some of their aides, who informed me that the urge to vocalize is not at all linked to the ability to hear. Animals will make vocalizations because they have the muscles and the urge to do it - even if they can't hear the result, or imagine how you hear it.

The vibrations thing is about right. Cats are pretty sensitive to that kind of thing.

I mentioned my friend with the two deaf cats - they could hear when you got home, as well as know when you woke up in the morning, just by the motions and air movements and vibrations and smells in the house. I also noticed that even though they can't hear, they still do the cat thing of twitching their ears around in response to activity. At first this seemed to make no sense, until I realized that their whole faces are designed to pick up on movements in the environment- their long whiskers and ear fur help them feel changes in air movement and temperature and so on. They still have the reflex and get information that way even if they can't process sounds.
posted by Miko 23 November | 16:14
his behaviour is still changing

and will continue to do so for quite some time... I'm not so sure about cats, because I don't remember now about my own in terms of weeks/months/years, but with Sky (dog) behaviour stuff has really only sort of mostly settled down after a year and a half, but not really, because the deeper and deeper bonding brings out new things all the time. It was the same with my cats, but it's been too long ago for me to remember the progression except generally.

But Trilby seems to me to be especially involved, responsive, and just at home pretty early for a feline-type, which is fantastic. You can always tell a cat who has decided that this is the place/person that suits them. Because they get quite uppity right away. :)
posted by taz 23 November | 17:10
Uppity would be the word. I so hope all the whining he does is a phase.
posted by Orange Swan 23 November | 22:29
Aw... He's curled up in my lap and purring this very minute.
posted by Orange Swan 23 November | 23:12
Aw... He's curled up in my lap and purring this very minute.
posted by Orange Swan 23 November | 23:12
And then he jumped up and hit the keyboard, causing the double post.
posted by Orange Swan 23 November | 23:13
Closet Cooking is one of my favorite food blogs. || The Auteurs

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