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  • As I was sitting on the glider contemplating the morning, I noticed a quick movement out of the corner of my eye. At first, I thought it might be one of the doves that often explore the ground below the bird feeder for fallen seeds. Nothing out of the ordinary, I thought. But then, there it was again, this time headed for the yellowing clump of Iris fronds near the house.

    I waited patiently, keeping still and quiet, and soon caught sight of the brown and white mouse who was apparently now part of the scavenger crew keeping the lawn below the feeder free of extraneous seed. The mouse was about 4 inches long, plus tail. It would scurry across the cement walk to the tall crabgrass near the base of the feeder, collect a few seeds, then scurry back rapidly to a small crack in the foundation that runs below my porch. Storing food, perhaps, or feeding a litter.

    Why hadn't I seen it before? Probably because this was one of the rare mornings Olivia decided not to venture out with me. The humidity is up and she had already made her morning tour of the yard, so she just laid on the kitchen floor as I headed out to my morning ritual.

    Mice are typically known as owl food in this neck of the woods, and usually what they owls don't find, the few feral cats in the area do. So it would seem I have one of the more astute mice living under my porch, since it is alive, and looks well fed.

    The wrens and finches pay it no mind, and the doves which usually fly at the least movement, seem unconcerned, so I went back to my reading. Other folks might panic and run to find some sort of mouse trap or other device. Not me. I have no problem with mice as long as they remain outside. And should it decide to venture into my house, it will elevate its status from owl food to cat toy.

    Did I mention I have cats? Kanga and Sabrina are indoor cats, house pets who are fed and pampered regularly. Kanga is a long haired domestic who looks like Sylvester from the cartoons. Sabrina is a gray and brown brindled, short haired alley cat. Most of the time they are content to lie about, get petted, and occasionally get into a sort of play-fight-chase with each other or Olivia.

    But they are still cats. Which means they have the 'stalking instinct.' I have to admit I find that fascinating. You see, all cats, from the mighty lion to the lowliest kitten, have it. They're born with in, and no matter what you do, it cannot be bred out of them. Basically, it means that anything small (a relative term) and close to the ground that moves around a lot immediately attracts the cat's attention. In the wild, this is what keeps cats well fed or not, depending on the speed of the cat.

    You see, cats are predators. There eyes are in front of their head like ours so they can judge distances. They are equipped with a tail which allows them to balance on very small surfaces, and they have claws which are as sharp as a well honed razor. Their ears are as sensitive as a dogs and can pick up the faintest of sounds, including the footsteps of a mouse. Sometimes, I wonder how the cat ever became a house pet, since, when properly agitated, a cat is a very formidable foe.

    The doves are about the grass surrounding the feeder again, but the mouse persists in darting back and forth from the fronds to the seed and back. As I begin to read, I hear the familiar hoot of the neighborhood owl. I wonder how long it will take him to find the mouse.

    ~Fred~
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