15 April, 2015

M is for Mousie

from Edward Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies

I was always a "dog person" until Mousie. 

Duncan, my housemate, phoned me one afternoon to see if I'd mind if he brought home a lost kitten.  Me?  Mind?  Kitten?  Was he out of his mind?  

I'd never lived with a feline before.  My prior pet history had extended to our dog, Paton, a much loved Sheltie and a member of our family for 14 years; various gold fish; two terrapins; and I have a vague memory from before I was four of a short-lived budgie.

I instantly loved the kitten from the moment she entered our home.  Named for Agent Dana Scully of the X-Files (which was screening its first season at the time) Scully became Mousie pretty quickly:  Mousie Mouse of the Yukon.  It was apparent she was much more of an adventurer than a UFO skeptic.

The first challenge with Mousie was when Duncan decided to let her outside for the first time.  I was used to the whole dog thing, where you know where they are all the time and you keep them in the yard, or in the house.  He was accustomed to having cats and understanding that they come and go as they please, but because you love and feed them and give them a safe and warm place to be, they choose to come home...  I found that a very difficult concept to get my head and heart around.  So I initially had a meltdown and cried a lot.  

I don't think it helped that we lived on a busy road.  

I eventually came to terms with the ins and outs of cat companionship (I can't call it ownership) as Mousie and I, inseparable, moved to six different houses over the seven short, but very full years of her life.  

Mousie and her cremains, interred in an engraved cocktail shaker.
1994 – 2002

As I said, she was a great adventurer, and as such, inevitably found herself in extraordinary danger and peril.  One afternoon she was found by a neighbour hanging upside down, by one rear haunch, in the fork of a tree, where she'd been shouting for help for some hours.  She was lucky to regain the ability to walk after that little escapade.

Another time, looking out the kitchen window as I washed dishes, she ran underneath the wheels of a speeding car as she crossed the road, somehow emerging out the other side unscathed.  The only casualties were the stack of dinner plates in the sink which were pulverised by the cast iron pot I was rinsing, and dropped directly on top when I ceased to breathe as I watched the daredevil act play out before my startled eyes.

Poor Mousie. Despite her black barbershop quartet hairdo, she had the terrible combination of white tipped ears and a love of the great outdoors, so ended up with melanoma and the inevitably necessary ear amputation.  We grew used to that look while I think she avoided mirrors.

She was always also the target of bully boy Toms no matter where we moved, so she endured more than a dozen brutal attacks with the accompanying abscesses, anesthetics, drains, stitches, pain relief and vet visits.

In the end poor Mousie suffered a debilitating stroke which lead to the vet finding her riddled with cancer.  It was a turbulent, terrible, hideous day.  I thank heavens for my dear friend Gg who held my hand and cried with me while the vet team who had seen Mousie through all the turbulent times and had become an extension of family administered the final kindness: the blessed Green Dream...

I had begun a cross-stitch project a few months before entitled "In My Life". It seemed the most natural thing in the world to work her in to the design.  My life was at a turning point, I didn't know how big...  Losing Mousie was just the beginning...

"In My Life"
Started Dec '01 – Finished Feb '04


  1. darling Mousie ... she was a naughty naughty kitty...
    And hey yeah, what is it with your cats and amputations?

    1. I would concede there would've been a pattern except Poppy escaped unscathed.

    2. BTW I remember having to tell lies for that cat when she was so badly injured. Couldn't let DQ or ROF know why you were unable to work. They just wouldn't have understood. xxx
      Oh... anad Jen's old lovely Sprocket dog died last week ( old age) and she's having his ashes made into a diamond!

    3. Thank you, thank you for never letting on about the lies. And no I can't imagine they would've understood at all, but I'm so glad you did. And what a wonderful thing to do with Sprocket's remains. I've heard of it just recently, actually. Bless. Send my love.