Reading WaterBaby’s recent horrorblogs on the rats in the ceiling has brought back my own repressed Rodent Wars. [Waterbaby’s link to The Place is gone, as is WB, to here:http://allycatadventures.wordpress.com)
Yes, Rats are the worst animals on earth.
Yes, you clean.
Rubbing alcohol is comforting, and white vinegar, and bleach.
Overkill is just fine, because in addition to cleaning it germ-free, you are also trying to overcome primal Ritual Unclean Shuddery Responses.
This is no time for logic.
[And all this is true, even though tame rats are another thing entirely.]
When we first moved into this house, Tom was still teaching in LA, and driving up and down 5 for the weekend.
Which meant that Sair and I were here alone most of the time.
And she was about five.
Which meant I was in MamaBear mode a lot of the time.
And that was when the great Onslaught of the Rats occurred.
Almost immediately after we bought the house, the city celebrated our arrival by replacing the street sewer line in front of the house.
Which meant truly impressive ditches running the length of the block, loud gigantic machinery all day, and hordes of workers.
I’m pretty sure it was only a matter of a few days or a couple of weeks.
But if you told me it was months, I’d believe that too.
I am glad the city replaced the original Victorian pipes and all, and it was my tax dollars at work, and the ground water is all protected now too.
Except that they disturbed a nest of sewer rats, who were thrust out into a new and frightening world, searching for a home.
I think they probably bolted for the house next door first.
It’s empty, and the crawl space was unprotected at that time.
It provided shelter but no food.
Eventually they turned up here.
Henrietta, the seven pound hunting miracle cat killed the first invader.
I swear it was as big as she was.
I have never in my life seen such an ugly beast.
But after the first one, she wasn’t willing to close with the rest of them.
There were FOURTEEN of them – all different sizes.
So poor Sair and I would be watching tv, or coming downstairs in the morning, and there would be a RAT.
She got really good at jumping up on the trunk and out of the way, while Mamabear got on the case.
Henrietta wouldn’t kill them, but she’d corner them for me.
And Felix, the world’s most spherical tabby, revealed an amazing flair for locating them.
His mom was an Oregon barn cat, and I’ve wondered whether he had some kind of otherwise unused hereditary advantage from her.
Hen could be distracted by where the little monsters had been,and go casting about on their trail.
Seriously, she could follow everywhere they had set their creepy little feet.
But Felix always knew exactly where they were right now.
He found their presence deeply offensive and wanted them gone.
Both cats appreciated that we three were a team, and even if I hadn’t seen the rodent, they could communicate that my help was again needed.
I had a clear plastic large shoe box and cookie sheet.
[Dedicated to the task, no longer for cookies…. No.]
I’d grab my tools, and follow the cats.
They’d corner the beast, and I’d box it, slide the cookie sheet, and then, and then….
Sair might have been terrified of them, but she did not want me killing animals.
And frankly, I don’t know how I’d have done it.
Soooooo… some of them I dropped off down at the marina.
A couple I dropped off on campus – but only where I’d already seen rats, over by the creek.
The joy of late night car trips to re-home rats.
Again, there were a finite number of them.
It only went on for…. weeks?
Surely not months, but it seemed to go on all winter.
One of the last ones, a small guy, I dropped into a dumpster a few blocks away, outside the some-kinda-computer-business place.
Months later, out walking with Sair in my middle-aged baby-mama invisibility, we walked by a couple of cool dudes outside there taking a smoke break.
And Sair, in the glorious clear voice of a young child looked at the streetside dumpster and proclaimed,
“Look, here’s where we left the rat!”