Saturday, February 13, 2016

To A Mouse. Or the Best Laid Plans

To a Mouse

By Robert Burns
On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785
Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
          Wi’ bickerin brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
          Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
          Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
          An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave
          ’S a sma’ request:
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
          An’ never miss ’t!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
          O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
          Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
          Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
          Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
          But house or hald,
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
          An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
          Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
          For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
          On prospects drear!
An’ forward tho’ I canna see,
          I guess an’ fear!
I have been battling the VFH (Virus From H*LL) for over three weeks.  I finally requested an antibiotic and was so indulged by my PCP.  Placebo effect, or not, I felt better within 12 hours of my first dose of the Z Pack.  Friday is my half day at work.  I finished up by noon, well ahead of schedule and dreamed of snuggling on the couch with tea, dogs and Sex and The City Season Two. 
Steven left for Vermont just as I arrived home from work.  I love that man.  I owe him for all the help with Mom's apartment, the drive there and back, and putting up with my irritable chaos there and since returning.  In all honesty, though, I just needed a fecking break from everything. 
I was happily ensconced on the couch, well into Carrie's second go round with Mr Big, enjoying Sweet Steve Brady courting Miranda when there was a terrible ruckus outside in the dog pen.
Somehow a stray cat had burrowed under the chain link fence into the pen.  Wrigley thought it might be a new playmate.  (Wilson would have killed it.)  
I got Wrigley away and the poor kitten hid behind the propane tank.  I really thought it was dead.  I couldn't reach it, I saw it's tail and touched it but there was no responding twitch.   A waning afternoon promised bitter cold temperatures overnight.   I felt just awful.  But what if it wasn't dead?  It was going to be FC overnight and I couldn't just let it die.  I put some tuna out by the tank.  Maybe HeShe would smell the food.  Each time I checked the tuna I grew more confident that the cat was dead.  I no longer could see the tail. On the other side of the tank there was a huge nest of twigs, leaves and debris tucked between the chimney and the tank.  A nest most  likely created by one of the rats or squirrels that make their annual foray into the walls of our house.  

Finally, about 4:30 PM I decided to just give up and bring in the tuna so that I wouldn't attract more rats when, there was the cat.  HeShe saw me and darted back behind the propane tank. Oh F*ck.  I couldn't leave it out all night.  I wasn't sure I could get behind the tank to grab it.  I tried to rig up a little nest with an old litter box, some blankets and the heating pad thinking maybe the cat would be lured there with the tuna.  The tuna, though, was frozen solid.  No way could that cat survive.

I  found a large cardboard box in the barn.  I was pretty sure HeShe didn't have the energy to scale the almost three feet sides (toilet box).  I put the heating pad, some old blankets and towels down and made a nest for the cat.  Our downstairs bathroom is the warmest room in the house when the oil burner is on.  I put the Cat House there. 

Then I pulled out the rat's nest, and gently poked a stick around one side of the tank so that I could reach the cat on the other.  HeShe didn't give much of a fight.  Poor thing.  So fragile and skinny, but with enough energy to hiss at me.   HeShe huddled in the corner of the box and just looked at me.  I warmed some dilute half and half and said "Please just don't die"

I tried to let HerHim alone for more than ten minutes but found that I just couldn't.  On one check I found the milk gone.    Oh joy!  I prepped more half and half and added tuna.  HeShe drank that but left the tuna.  So then I dug out some chicken liver from the freezer cooked it up and found that Cat likes liver.  Oh joy. 
For much of the night I crept back to the bathroom to check.  Finally I was able to pet HerHim and SheHe even purred and snuggled my hand.  F*ck.  There went my heart.

Don't Die, I said sternly to The Cat.  HeShe looked at me with disdain.  Finally I had to get some sleep.  It was One in the morning by now.  My head was killing me and I needed some sleep. 

This morning HeShe had eaten much of the liver, all of the diluted Half and Half and peed and pooped all over the bedding.  Clearly it was time to create a better place. 
I cleaned out the box and stupidly put The Cat on the floor.  HeShe found her way into the bottom of the washing machine (we have it open in the cold days so that the drain doesn't freeze.  I managed to get HerHim out and when I put HerHim in the box, HeShe jumped up and almost out of the box.  I closed up the top, put a weight on it and kept THE CAT there until I set up the new Cat House

I found a large dog crate in the barn, some old cedar shavings we used to use for cat litter (the mice found it nice for nests, too) and an old litter box.  I set the whole thing up in the Upstairs bathroom this morning feeling relieved that HeShe hadn't died overnight, but concerned that now I had a cat problem.  
I huddled The Cat into a piece of fleece and rescued HerHim from the cardboard box and placed HerHim in the new abode.  The Cat just huddled there.  I place HerHim in the litter box to introudce the idea  Cat liked the idea.  New huddle spot.  HeShe didn't move from there.  

I placed some water and liver in the crate, covered the whole thing up with a sheet and drove over to town to fetch my antibiotic.  Steven, it seems, had mistaken the cardboard box of the Zpack for his Nighttime cold medicine and packed it with him for Vermont yesterday.  I, of course discovered this when I looked for my medicine last night at supper time.  Oh Crap, I was now at risk for creating a super bug if I didn't get back on an antibiotic.  Fortunately I have friends in the right places and Betsy wrote me a new prescription. 

So while I was in town I picked up some cat food, forgot to get milk and bought some kitty treats.

The Cat had not touched the food nor the water, near as I could tell.  HeShe was still in the litter box, hunkered down.  That would not do. 

I found an old waste basket, turned it on its side, put the heating pad inside covered with some fleece and moved The Cat in.  HeShe liked it.  I offered some food.  HeShe ate.

 If HeShe uses the litter box for its intended purpose, there is a chance HeShe will stay with us.  Clearly HeShe has stood up to Wrigley and I think that Wrigley would just consider it a playmate.  Frannie likely would leave HerHim alone.   Off to check. 


  1. Aw bless, you are kind, fingers crossed he/she settles and thrives. Animals are remarkable, sometimes they choose us. I am a gardener and one of my customers now has a lovely cat who decided that she would like to live with Wynne, it was a cold winter, Wynne didn't stand a chance. Sharon x

  2. You are my hero!!! Thank you for saving its life! Looks like a cat I had a long time ago. Sorry you are so sick. I still can't get my head to stop paining. Had to cancel an MRI yesterday because of pain- supposed to go tomorrow. Told it is better for an MRI when you are in pain, but I think I could not survive the magnet sounds. Hoping tomorrow I can do it.
    Hoping kitty improves and takes care of your mice!!! Catch up on your sleep.

  3. What a sweetie pie. Both you and Cat. Of course he/she is staying. Dogs adapt and cats get up onto things where dogs can't reach them if the dogs are slow about adapting. Voice of experience here.

  4. Feels like whatever its gender, The Cat must be named Bernie...
    Robert Burns, Burning cold, one's political bent- kismet

  5. Hope the little fur ball made it through the night. Amazing that he she purred a bit for you. We all will be looking for updates.

    Hope you are better soon.