Thursday, March 12, 2009

Just Mousing Around

I'd love to say this is just a silly cartoon, but it's actually true. This is another one of my infamous bed sketches, wherein I curl up under the duvet, prop my head up on a big pillow, pull out a sketchpad and draw. Usually, I get some feline company too, and they make fine artist models if you don't mind the rear view. (can anyone tell me why cats do that?). This night, they were busy elsewhere, but soon brought the fruits of their labour into the bedroom.
A captured mouse always brings me to a conflicting mixture of emotions. One of the most interesting aspecs of pet ownership, is the chance see things from a different point of view. I try, often, to 'see the world through their eyes'. So when they catch a mouse, I feel a vicarious surge of pleasure in the hunt. For them, the catch is sheer joy, as they pounce, snatch, & release the mouse, not to be cruel, but because it's fun. All those actions fulfill powerful instinctive needs, an activity that for indoor cats is a rarity. Being cats, they do not have the capacity to contemplate the pain they inflict. But I am human. The mouse is alive, terrified, trapped and suffering. Vicariously, I feel all of that too. Another, more practical part of me, is relieved. Mice in the house are more than a nuisance; given a tendency to chew wiring, they are a serious safety hazard. When the cats 'do their job', I am glad--one less mouse to worry about, maybe they will go away.
So here I am, curled up in bed, witness to thrills and terror both and trying to decide what to do about it. You'll probably be relieved to know that 'capture & release' was my decision, and the mouse seemed unharmed. But here again, one sees another side of cats, their instincts and point of view. When I got up to capture the mouse, the cats gladly moved aside to let me 'have a go'. It was a great game to them, and one to be shared by the clan. A generous nature is revealed in this action, and some capacity of empathy. So then I could add a shred of guilt to the mix, as I tricked them into letting me take the mouse away (I overturned a bowl on top of the mouse, and then slid cardboard under the bowl to pick it up, if you need to know). The cats never did figure out what I did and continued looking for the escaped mouse for some time; it didn't dawn on them, this time, to lay the blame at my feet.
Needless to say, that was too much mental and physical activity for bedtime, so sketching it all in was a must. And although I won't hold the cats to account for the suffering they inflict on their prey, it did get me thinking about all the small-minded petty cruelties I've seen people inflict on each other 'in the name of fun'; hence the caption.

And below, a more peaceful view of Lennier. Both items rendered on The Great Canadian 5x7 Sketchbook, first in graphite and then inked in with the pentel pocket brush, which still has a perfect point 3 months and much use later. My report on its performance remains excellent, as I've used it enough to empty a cartridge (and they are the big fat fountain pen sized cartridges) and I carry it around everywhere and its never made a mess of ink, works at shallow angle too (ie. bed sketching).


Jenny said...

As a cat lover, I understand your mixed feelings about the triumphant cat with the mangled mouse! My sympathy for cats is put to its ultimate test when I see a cat actually teasing and playing with a terrified mouse. It's one of those imponderables. I think there's something for us to learn here, if we were only much wiser and could figure it out. Makes me think of the news reports that say, "Neighbors of the arrested killer say, 'He was always such a nice guy....'" But bottom line is, I love my cat!

Michelle (artscapes) said...

I love your caption! I laughed out loud... And I am with you on the mixed feelings around kitties and their live toys.

Audrey said...

Very nice - wish I could draw. Stick people are about as talented as I am.

Kala Pohl Studio said...

Beautiful sketches:) Yes, I can relate to the mixed feelings, but the cats are doing what comes naturally and want to share their prize with you, someone they love:):)

kaslkaos said...

Hi again, Audrey. Since I have yet to see your stick people, I can't comment on your talents ;-)
Thanks Kala Pohl Studio--you must be a fellow cat-lover; you know cats. I do believe, from their point of view, the sharing is a generous act. Poor mouse.

Penguen said...

I love the 'bottom' or 'tail end' sketch. Okay, maybe it was only funny to me.
I had a cat that was a little more wild and I woke up one night to a dead bird in my face, thank the gods she ate the thing and didn't expect me to do it. I also owned a cat that was deathly afraid of mice, he was hysterical after a run in with a blind mouse in our cabinet. The mouse saw nothing and just sat there the whole time. Now I own dogs (mostly cuz the hubby is allergic).

kaslkaos said...

Penguen, thanks for the laugh. Though a bird in the face wouldn't be very funny at the time, it makes a great story.
I can't imagine a cat being afraid of mouse, but that's another one (odd how humour so ofen includes an element of tragedy--another discussion though).
As for me, mouse-traps sit still packaged on the kitchen counter while they practice gymnastics in the ceiling.


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