’17 A to Z Challenge – V

Challenge2017

letter-v

 

 

 

 

Rat

Varmint – Vermin – Victor/Victim
VINDICATION –VICTORY!

When we last left our stalwart hero, the Pied Piper, he was valiantly attempting to rid his home of rats….

Back last June, when I chose these ‘V’ words, I wasn’t sure that I could achieve Victory – or who would be the victor, and who the victim.

I checked the air intake tube for the furnace, and found Ping-Pong-ball-sized stones piled above the steel grate, to prevent just this problem. Next, I checked the dryer vent.  This entailed emptying and moving a steel shelving unit in the basement.  Back in the corner was the 4-foot aluminum carpenter’s level.  I stood it against the wall, just outside the utility room door.

The dryer duct is expandable aluminum, hardly stronger than a potato chip bag, against the power of sharp little rats’ teeth. That corner was covered in dryer lint.  I used a shoe-box side and duct tape to close the gaping hole, and folded a small piece of chicken wire double, and screwed it over the outside vent.  That should keep any more from coming in.  Now I just had to deal with any left inside.

I put a trap outside, below the dryer vent, and 2 days later, caught a female, hopefully, trying and failing to get in. A week after, I drowned one in the peanut butter/swimming pool trap that I built from SightsNBytes direction.  Another week, and the Tonka Toy, Hungry, Hungry Hippo trap caught another female.  Just how big is this guy’s harem??

I removed the adhesive trap, because footprints proved it wasn’t sticky enough. One of the traps disappeared, even though I tie them down to prevent that.  I found a Dollar Store that had the old, reliable wooden trap – for $2.  The $12 special, now baited with soft chocolate cookie, nails yet another female.

New plastic and metal containers are bought. The amount of food disappearing goes down – but there’s still that occasional ‘gnaw, gnaw, gnaw’, some nights.  Wile E. Rat is still down there.  One day, an unmoved box of macaroni is emptied, and there, behind it, is the missing trap.  It’s down a shelf, and 6 feet away, on the other arm of an L-shaped shelving unit.

One day I go down to get something from the freezer. Dancer-cat rushes ahead and jumps up on it for his usual ruffling.  As I walk over to him, I ALMOST STEP ON THE RAT, padding across in front.  Later, Mr. 20/20 Hindsight Son asks, “Why didn’t you just stomp on him?”  Uh…. because he startled me, I hadn’t thought of doing that….and because I didn’t have my slippers on.

The next day, we go down again, only this time dancer-cat stands peering over the end of the freezer. Sure enough, there under the bottom shelf is Mr. Rat.  My well-shod feet are just waiting – but he won’t come out.  Would the cat go in??  I place him on the floor, but his way is blocked.  I move a box….and the rat is gone.

Later that evening, I go back downstairs. There’s that carpenter’s level.  I might as well put it on the workbench, because I’m going back in that corner to empty the cats’ litter tray….AND I DAMNED-NEAR STEP ON THE RAT AGAIN.  Here he is, almost in the middle of the floor.  I have the level.  Do I want to risk a $50 tool?  Hell, yes!  But the rat quickly scuttles under the work bench.

While the cats seem to have little or no interest in the rat(s), the dog does. He’s part terrier, and they’re bred to dig out rats.  Only, this one just goes downstairs and barks, usually when someone’s trying to sleep.  He’s deaf as a post, and has cataracts so bad that he bumps into things.  I think he just barks at the odors.

I was working on the computer one day. The wife later said she’d heard the dog in the basement.  I went down to the main floor, just as he jumped up on the couch.  We put a blanket there, and let him, but he acted guilty.  When I looked, he had one of his chewy toys in his mouth, which are not allowed up….but this toy had a tail.  Future evidence showed that he caught a rat in the same place he chased one a month before.  But is it the rat?

Rats piss and shit wherever they go. I can vacuum up the solid – several times Dust-Bustering the shelves, but the urine reeks.  We have a spray bottle of Febreze-like liquid.  It’s supposed to absorb odors.  I sprayed under my workbench.  I sprayed the linty corner – behind the steel shelves – behind the beer fridge and water softener – behind the freezer – under the storage shelves, and on the now-open spaces, avoiding all food….and went upstairs, a couple of weeks later.

The wife had started a load of wash, but with her recent knee operation, it was up to me to move the heavy wet laundry from washer to dryer. I went into the main floor powder/laundry room and flicked on the light.  Dancer-cat Micah jumped up on the dryer.  That’s not normal, but he’d been a bit more sucky than usual.  I flipped up the washer lid, and turned to open the dryer….and the cat is paying no attention to me.

There’s Mr. Rat, sitting on some hand towels, on a 4-foot-high shelf beyond the dryer. He’s always stayed in the basement. Oh yeah, I sprayed the shit outta that.  How did he get up here?  The dryer duct – gotta check that again.  What can I hit him with? What can I hit him with? There’s the wife’s ‘laundry stick’, for dunking or removing clothes from hot water.  It used to be the heavy wooden handle of a barbecue brush.

I can’t get at him because he’s tight to the shelf above, and the cat’s in the way. There I stand, with the raised baton in my hand, like an orchestra conductor.  He‘s not moving, because the cat will chase him (maybe), but the cat is interested.  Bit by bit, the cat oozes forward, until their noses are inches apart – slowly, the cat raises a paw….

Just before contact is made, the rat jumps. We have a sponge/ squeegee with a 3-foot handle for cleaning outside windows, leaning against the wall.  He jumps to that.  Then he lowers his nose to look for a safe landing spot – and I clop him a good one on the back of the head.

Holy shit – rats are tough! I expected death, or at least unconsciousness.  He performed a mid-air 360° tumble, and landed, squealing and thrashing, in a 14-inch-high, narrow, plastic garbage pail.  Can he climb out?  Can he jump out?  I’m not waiting to find out.

Quickly I grab the edge with my left hand and, still holding my Ninja club in my right, I head for the nearby front door. With both hands full, I don’t know how I got it open.  I told myself that I shut it behind me, so that cats couldn’t get out – but how?

I was just going to throw him into the middle of the road, but if he got in once, he might get in again.  This is a fight to the death! I run down the driveway, and set the pail on its side on the sidewalk.  He’s safe in there.  He ain’t comin’ out.

I dumped him out onto the concrete, and immediately administered several blows. I may have broken a front leg or two and/or some ribs, but I slowed him down.  Then I got 5 or 6 to the head. Do. You. Know. How. Many. Nachos. You. Ate? Broke the wife’s stick, and had to glue and tape it back together later.  Went to go back to the house, and here’s two cats leaking out the open door.  The next day, I took a photo in the rain, for proof.

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And so, peace has descended upon Casa Archon. No more missing/spoiled food.  No more furtive movement.  No more squealing, rustling or gnawing.  I am the Victor!   😎

 

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Oh, Rats!

Rat

I smell a rat…. if only I could get my cats to do the same.

In our utility room, which is stuffed to the gills with various types of food – bags of dog, and cat kibble, potato chips, egg noodles, dried peas and beans, and individual packets of hot chocolate powder began developing holes.

Oh-oh, we have a mouse.  There were two things wrong with that assumption.  It wasn’t a, and it wasn’t mouse.  A suddenly-turned-on light eventually revealed a scuttling little fur ball that definitely was a rat.

How do rats get into your house?? I don’t know about yours, but mine has a flexible, 3-inch tube, from the bottom of a window well, down to the furnace, to provide air for combustion.  It’s supposed to have a steel-wire grate in it, but rats have teeth and jaws that can chew a hole in the side of a Buick.

Rat Trap 1

Food was moved, and placed in Tupperware, Rubbermaid, and Zip-Loc containers, and an unused steel canister set. Boxes of cereal went back into plastic store bags and got hung from water pipes on the ceiling, so that they couldn’t be reached.  A large plastic tote box was purchased, to safeguard my nachos.  I went to a hardware store to purchase a rat trap, thinking I’d get one like the  super-sized mouse trap, above.

Rat Trap 2

They’re not sold around here anymore. What I got, for $12, was a plastic, Hungry, Hungry Hippos kind of thing.  I baited it with peanut butter and oatmeal flakes.  Neither rats nor mice particularly like cheese.  After a week of no results, I went to a different chain store, and got one for $6 that was more like I had in mind, and safer/easier to set.

Rat Trap 3

After a week of two traps, the newer one yielded a body. I think it was a female, but I didn’t spread her little legs to find out.  A week later the Tonka Toy trap snagged an adolescent.  (Oh goody!  If they’re breeding, I’ll never get rid of them all.)

Two more weeks passed. We knew there was still at least one more, because we could hear scratching as we sat quietly reading.  At last the new trap caught another supposed female, but the next day, as I entered the storage room, I saw a larger male shinny up a water pipe, and disappear behind the fibreglass insulation.

A whole month passed, with nothing on the trap line, only scratching from the basement. I moved the traps from time to time, especially near the boxes of cornmeal muffin mix that were chewed into.  I changed the bait to moist cat food – and back to peanut butter and oats.  Finally, another dead rat, but this one seemed to be another female.  Still, the rustling and scratching continued.  That male is a canny old rat.

We considered rat poison, but with 4 cats in the house, our vet discouraged us. The son told me about a DIY glue trap.  Apparently Gorilla Glue makes a super-sticky duct tape.  You can stick together a broken car bumper, and drive 75 MPH – in the rain.  Put some, sticky side up, on a piece of cardboard, place near food and hope the rat steps on it.

I don’t have Gorilla duct tape, but I do have a roll of no-sided tape that followed me home from the auto plant.  It’s pure adhesive on a roll of waxed paper.  Stick it to something like cardboard, peel the wax paper, and there’s nothing left but sticky.  I put two layers on a shoe box lid.

Mica

When I went downstairs to place it, Mica, my Fred Astaire cat, followed me down and jumped up on the freezer to demand his usual petting and skritching. While I was doing that, the dog walked in, and suddenly began barking and lunging under the shelving unit.  He crawled in and continued barking.

As I looked, I saw the rat sneak through a hole into a plastic crate, with the dog in loud pursuit. What to do?  What to do?….Throw something, and try to kill the rat….Can’t be a jar, or I’ll be cleaning up glass shards and pickled beet juice for weeks….A can! What can??  A can of soup?  Too small!  Chunky soup – the cans are twice as big and heavy.

I grabbed a large can, and watched as the rat leaked through a hole on the other side of the plastic crate. The fat little f**ker eased under a storage cabinet on casters, popped out the other side, and headed for the shelves on the other side of the room.

I flung the soup can at him, and caught him below the shoulder blades. Apparently the can wasn’t heavy enough, or I didn’t fling it hard enough.  Hurt, but possibly not damaged, he changed direction and scuttled into the corner behind the water softener and refrigerator….

….and all the while, my cat sat serenely on the freezer, calmly watching the rat disappear. We may have to have a discussion about the fine points of his contract.  It’s been two weeks since I added the glue trap to the two others and found that the son had lost a bag of Oreos.  Who knew??  Next he’ll be down there makin’ S’mores.

Google says that a rat can live for 2 to 5 years. This Chubby Cheese-me-off could outlive me.  Have any of you had mice or rats that you couldn’t get rid of?  Any suggestions – or sympathy?   😛

P.S.

The cats occasionally climb the shelves, and get onto the air ducts above the rec-room suspended ceiling, and play chase.  Two weeks after the above, I was quietly reading, and a chase began in the basement.

Who’s chasing who today?  Contessa’s upstairs.  Zorra’s in my lap.  Tonka’s sleeping on the couch.  Mica’s redeeming himself by chasing the rat!  Go Mica, go!  Two days later I heard faint scratching on one side of the ceiling, but nothing since, and I find no further evidence of any more food broken into.  I cross my fingers (and toes, and even my eyes) and hope.

The Cats Who Own us – Part 5

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TONKA

Pictures of cats equals increased stats, so it’s time to tell you about our fifth and final cat.  All of our cats are ‘rescues’ of one sort or another.  This one is no different.  We changed the names of a couple of our cats, but not this one, although, like all the others, we’ve added a few.

He came to us named Tonka, and it suited him so well that it stuck.  It means ‘large, great, or powerful’, and is where the Tonka Toy Company gets its name.  We think that there is a cat breeder in the area who is trying to crossbreed to get Bengals, and throwing away the failures.  We have seen another female who is a twin in appearance, although not quite as chunky.

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This one’s sire might have been a concrete building block.  He has great coloration, but is big and hefty.  If our cat Micah is the feline equivalent of the dancer, Fred Astaire, Tonka is our Arnold Schwartzen-whozitz.  Like a muscle-builder, he has no neck and short vocal cords, so he has the tiniest, squeaky little meow.  Someone adopted him, but for reasons unknown, gave him up.

The Humane Society has cages placed outside, so that people can at least leave unwanted animals there, instead of just abandoning them.  The staff came in one morning, and he was the catch of the day.  They have struck a deal with several of the local pet-food stores to feed, water and care for cats, display them and try to get them re-adopted.  It works!

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The daughter had gone to a nearby outlet to get food for her pets, and seen him.  When she called to arrange to be taken shopping, she gushed about how great a cat he was.  Like the damned fool I am, I let the son drive her and the wife one Saturday morning.  Instead of dropping her at her home when they were done, and returning the wife here, they all ended up at the pet food store.

The next thing I knew, the son was home with instructions that I bring a cat crate and return to the store.  We were already a couple of cats over our quota, and if I bring along a cat crate, I’ve already admitted defeat.  I went to pick up the wife (And only the wife), without the crate.

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Isn’t he wonderful?
(No comment)
Look at him!  He’s so strong and handsome.
(Less than no comment.  Brad Pitt is strong and handsome, but I don’t want to take him home either.)
Where’s the cat crate?
I didn’t bring it.
We can’t take him home without a crate.
(Now you’re catching on.)

And the clerk says, “No problem.  We have temporary, cardboard, cat crates that just fold out.
(Shut up!  Shut up!  Shut up!)

He’s the biggest of the bunch, and at the bottom end of the pecking order.  Even our little female, Contessa, half his size, can run him up the stairs, or up onto the tall feeding box.  Then again, she’s raised several litters of kittens, and has learned not to take shit from any of them.

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He’s a placid cat, and almost as much a loner as I am, often found (accidently) on the powder-room mat, or the basement landing.  He willingly accepts being picked up, which none of the other three do.  He’s used to being picked up by right-handed people, and will often try to scramble over to the left shoulder, if picked up ‘wrong’.

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While he doesn’t have much to do with the other three cats, with his humans he’s very loving, and sometimes very demanding.  When the son sits to read, he crosses his one leg.  Tonka will jump up and settle into the hollow at his knee.  When I read, he often jumps up.  I will lean back, let him plant his butt on my ample belly, and lie against my shoulder.

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Once there, he nuzzles my ear, and purrs into it, and I purr back.  He rubs his face on my books and eyeglasses, marking them with his scent to identify them and me as ‘his.’  He also licks my mouth and moustache.  I think I’m being groomed, although he may just be checking what I had for lunch.

Matthew & Tonka

We didn’t need a fourth cat – any more than we needed the third – or even the second, but, sucker that I am, I can’t imagine life without him.  We do what little we can, to make life a bit better for as many animals and humans as we can.    😀

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