The Mice Hospice Is At Capacity Today

Despite our knowledge of the myriad risks involved and much to the disdain of some of my fellow cat lovers and most animal care organizations, our quintet of cats enjoy the outdoors. We keep them in at night, but during the day they are free to come and go. We understand this is not only detrimental to their health but to the health of any variety of critters who exist around our house, namely birds, lizards, rats and mice.

Today’s special is the latter.

This morning, I knew something was up when I saw Ranger trotting across the yard with cat Jiggy in pursuit. It’s always the other way around. So when I joined them, sure enough, I discovered that ever-protective Ranger had taken a mouse away from Jiggy and when demanded by me dutifully dropped it from her mouth on the grass. It seemed dazed and in shock but not suffering any external wounds so with Susan’s help I secured it in the shoe box I keep handy to serve as a potential recovery room.

Not more than a half-hour later Susan came in to alert me that Ranger was under the patio table guarding yet another mouse Jiggy had found. At first look this one seemed to have expired, but then I saw its tiny lungs fill with air and deflate and so now our Mice Hospice has two residents.

Given how relatively unscathed and alert the last cat-caught rodent seemed that I offered sanctuary to, only to be found dead the next morning, I’m not fooling myself about the prognosis for this pair — especially the second one (at the bottom of the snap above). If they recover, I’ll be pleased to release them deep into the front yard ivy with the hopes they’ve learned a valuable lesson. But if they go to their respective ends in the near future, at least they will do so with some dignity in a warm quiet place stocked with some water, walnut bits and cat kibble should they find themselves in need of a drink or a nibble.

UPDATE (4:16 p.m.): Not sure if this is a positive sign but it sure ain’t a negative one — and if nothing else it’s very cute. The two mice are currently huddled up and cuddled together in a corner of the shoebox:

 UPDATE (12.27): Looking better! Checked on them at 7:15 a.m. and was pleased to find them improved from when I’d checked on them before going to bed last night. Plus, they’d eaten some of the walnuts and drank from the water bowl and pooped plentifully. Both an appetite and poop — especially bloodless poop –  is a good sign that internally they’re not damaged (or at least not badly). I’m still maintaining a healthy skepticism, but the fact that the little one (on the left below) has rebounded given how badly beaten up it was when I found it is pretty amazing. I’d bet it has helped both tremendously that they had each other for company.

UPDATE (3:51 p.m.): As can be seen in this brief clip, the larger one certainly demonstrates some protective tendencies. PS. They love cheerios. Not sure of the species… deer mouse, perhaps?

UPDATE (11:28 p.m.): After a wonderful night out with friends from San Francisco, we came home to find the smaller seemingly worse-off of the two mice had escaped the box through a hole it gnawed in one of the corners. So now there’s a mouse (and/or its parts) either in the house or in one of the cats’ bellies. Probably a bit of both. More bad news: the larger seemingly better-off  mouse stayed behind in the box largely because it is no longer better-off. It has taken a drastic turn for the worse and I won’t be surprised if it does not survive the night. Sigh.

UPDATE (12.28): As of 9 a.m. the whereabouts of smaller mouse is still unknown (I’m going to hope it found a way out of the house as easily as it found a way out of the box). The larger mouse is still with us. Despite remaining largely immobile with no improvement from last night, it has been installed in a chew-proof container (I’m kicking myself for not doing that in the first place with both critters).

UPDATE (5:03 p.m.): Well, the remaining mouse ain’t through yet. I put some shredded paper into which it’s nested quite adorably, along with a small plush toy just in case it could use the softness as a surrogate for the one that got away.

UPDATE (12.29): This may be the most resilient mouse I’ve ever encountered. Though it seemed to be knocking on death’s door — again! — this morning (hardly reacting when I picked it up by the tail), at 3:35 p.m. it suddenly emerged from its shredded paper nest to move about and nibble on a cheerio.

UPDATE (12.30): Amazing. Huge increase in activity today. At 1:45 p.m. it just finished another stretch that included lots of eating, moving, drinking, and exploring the perimeter of its enclosure trying to find a way out. If this doesn’t diminish release could be as soon as tomorrow.

Well Will Ya Look What The Cat Dragged In

Literally. Patches came trotting into the study while I was at the computer, jumped up next to her food bowl behind me and plopped the thing next to it, presumably to have a kibble appetizer before her main course. Except the still-very-much-alive and relatively small (perhaps young) rat (or the largest freakin’ mouse I’ve ever seen; about 11-12 inches long, tail included) didn’t cooperate and tried to get away. This forced Patches to scramble and grab it up and exit, which is when I saw it in her jaws. Suddenly the previous commotion at the food bowl I’d not paid attention to made sense and up I got to chase Patches into the backyard so she wouldn’t drop it in the house.

She obliged, running out the back door, up on the patio and behind the barbeque grill, which when I slammed it startled her into abandoning her catch. The rat in the meantime hobbled on an injured rear foot/leg under the patio table where I was able to catch it up in a shoebox and install it in Buster’s old reptiquarium, where it can hopefully de-stress while I figure out if I should take it to an animal rescue place of if its injury is minor enough to let it heal and release it.

I’ve observed it drinking some water and limping around, so I’m cautiously optimistic that there aren’t any internal injuries.

On a side note, this critter and I might very well be related, so to speak. If not one of the backyard litter I assisted (after inadvertently destroying their den) back in 2007, then maybe it’s one of their offspring.

UPDATED (11.30): My optimism came too early. I found the rat dead this morning. Sigh.


Silver Lake Stormwatch: November 20

Sure, the rain started falling last night before I turned in, but it must’ve stopped before I fell asleep because this morning the ground was practically dry and  there was juuust barely 1/8th of an inch captured in the trusty backyard precipitometer.

But a few hours later the skies opened up and stayed open, and when the storm eventually passed the rain amounted to 3 7/16ths inches (let’s call it 3.4375″), bringing us to a seasonal total since I began measuring that first storm October 5 of 10.21875″.

Double digits, baby.

UPDATED (11.21): To you it’s inconsequential, but to the rain geek in me there’s a vast difference in 0.07 inches so in revisiting the rain gauge this morning and seeing some residual wetness raised the level overnight (pic after the jump), I’m hearby revising yesterday’s total up to 3.50″, with the seasonal amount now at 10.28125″.

Continue reading Silver Lake Stormwatch: November 20

Ranger Goes For A Swim

Susan and I took Ranger for an afternoon out-and-back along the east bank of the Los Angeles River downstream from the Fletcher Drive Bridge, and Ranger unintentionally ended up  getting very upclose and personal with the water as shown in the still above (click it for the bigger picture) and the video clip below:

I’m not sure what’s more ludicrous, Ranger going for an unplanned dip (her first-ever swim, by the way), or my reaction to it.

UPDATE (11.14): The obligatory slow-motion snip of the dip:

Bad Day For Bees

This time of year I can usually count on finding the occasional one maybe two dead bees in the vicinity of the patio table, but this morning the number of corpses (11 seen below, 17 total) concentrated in such a small area represented a cataclysmic and enigmatic die-off as far as our backyard is concerned:

UPDATED (1:37 p.m.): Twenty-four more found scattered around the patio table.  Could it be the bees are being bitten by and then rejected by spiders living in the fig tree branches extending over the patio area?

Found Cat

If you’re in my Silver Lake neighborhood (south of Sunset Boulevard between Parkman and Benton Way) and are missing this very people-friendly (but not very cat-friendly, though amazingly crate-trained) tortoise shell calico cat (I’m guessing female), it’s safe and ready for pick-up. Send me an email at Or get me on Twitter: @wildbell.

If you’re not missing a cat but are in the 90026 area please help recirculate this info by retweeting/ reposting it. Thank you.

More photos here.

UPDATE (5:40 p.m.):

UPDATE (6.17): Good news! Got a call from the manager of an apartment building up the street who saw my post to a local email list. He recognized the cat and thinks he knows the tenant to whom the cat belongs. Fingers crossed!

UPDATE (6.17 at 2:49 p.m.): Uncross the fingers. Turns out the tenant who contacted me isn’t the guardian but someone who had seen the cat around his building and was considering adopting it, but hadn’t made up his mind. At this point he’s thinking it’s not an option, but he’s going to consider it and let me know.

UPDATE (6.18): Echo Park Animal Hospital was kind enough to scan the cat for a microchip, so at least that’s no longer a question mark: she doesn’t have one. The neighbor initially interested in adopting the cat says another tenant in his building might be contacting me about making her a part of their family. I broadened the territory by flyering the blocks to the east and west of mine. And lastly, all the cats are calmed down and on much better behavior. Still not a whole lot of interaction, but she’s allowing them to be in the same room (even only a few feet away) without hissing and growling.