Tuesday, August 20, 2013

People who mean well

A woman I know is bragging this morning that she rescued a mouse from her cat. She captured the little thing, about the size of her thumbnail, and released it on the other side of the street.

Where it almost certainly died very soon afterwards.

I understand this sort of sentimental behaviour. I've done things like this myself in my life. Until I reached the age of 14 or so. The mouse would have died if left where it was and it can seem only right to release it outside where it seems like it will be at home. In fact, she released it into an extremely hostile environment. Even an adult mouse would probably have died a cruel death shortly after being released into a strange and terrifying environment. A young mouse separated from its mother, would go even more quickly. Best case scenario is that a predator found it, killed it and ate it almost immediately after the release.

There is nothing so profound as to deserve the title "worldview" behind this woman's actions. There are some naive and sentimental assumptions about what life is like. These assumptions amount to a belief system that the normal state of things for mice and people is one of comfort and security that is sometimes interrupted by death-bringers such as cats or cancer. And that isn't surprising because that is the life that most of us grew up with.


  1. Poor woman. It is hard to know what to do with these little creatures. I know we're supposed to kill them ourselves if the cat doesn't do it for us, but how exactly do you do that? I've taken my share of wee mice delivered to me by the cat and captured in tupperware containers and released them into the great world this year. I knew it wasn't the right thing, but looking a grey mouse in the eye and then killing it just didn't seem possible for me (let alone figuring out HOW to kill it with minimal pain for it and trauma for me).

    I hope she praised her cat. The cat is just doing its job and might have been a bit taken aback if mummy had a negative reaction....

    1. Two thoughts: 1. I bet your great grandmother did the job without flinching. 2. The most important thing is to kill it quickly; every second you hesitate is inhumane.

      I usually use a shovel myself because there is one handy just outside the door. I drop the mouse/bat/squirrel/whatever-it-is on a relatively hard surface and give three hard blows. Then I toss it in the green bin.

      (Knowing the woman, I doubt she praised the cat.)

  2. Hmmm... I guess maybe I'd better start keeping a shovel near the door. I imagine the mouse would be able to run away from me fairly quickly. Perhaps this technique ought to be rehearsed with a clockwork mouse first.

    Ever trodden on a chipmunk? There's one living under our front step that keeps popping out JUST as I step down. He probably hears the door open and comes out for a look and - wham - my giant foot milimetres from his nose. Alarming.