A puppet mouse acquired on a whim at Disney World years ago fast became the favorite toy of our cats, Tiger and Lilly. With a hand inside, the limp, grey lump of material becomes a lively, ferocious opponent.
For years, the puppet — dubbed Mousie — has been the cats’ favorite noctournal plaything. We never actually see the cats play with him, but we’ve grown accustomed to him moving from one part of the house to the other during the night.
Once, after closing our door and bedding down for the night, I got up to make a trip to the kitchen (no dietary comments, please). Moving through the den, I caught Tiger red-handed … or red mouthed, I suppose … prancing along with Mousie clenched between his jaws. I froze. Tiger froze. We locked eyes.
Tiger dropped the puppet and tried to look cool. What? Me? Playing with that Mousie? No. Never. Ahem. Move along, please.
With the arrival of Chelsea, Mousie has changed hands. He no longer creeps along at night; instead, he moves visibily, at high speeds, through our home, borne forward in the jaws of the puppy. Within the last nine months, Mousie’s suffered a tail bob, the removal of both of his shiny black eyes, and a paw-ectomy. In short, Mousie’s swifly headed for retirement.
As it turns out, replacing Mousie is harder than we thought. We found the company that makes Mousie (along with dozens of other realistic animal puppets), only to discover that Mousie has been discontinued. Clyde ordered the last two in stock … a Mousie for now, and one for the future.
New Mousie arrived this week: sleek and grey and covered in lush, fake fur. His eyes gleam. We have him to the cats, who batted at him for several minutes before lapsing into exhaustion.
Despite having her own hand-me-down Mousie, Chelsie watched all of this with evident jealousy. She whined. She paced. She leaped onto Clyde’s lap and up onto the office tabletop — a huge sin, according to the Doggie Bible — and tried claiming the new puppet as her own.
We resisted this for a long time … but, ultimately, the cats, who seemed only mildly interested, lost out to Chelsea, who craved a new Mousie with inhuman fervor.
Yesterday, we tipped the new Mousie onto the floor. Chelsea heard the sound of fabric colliding with the carpet, swooped into the room, and made off with Mousie, just like that.
Now, she’s tearing through the house with the Mousie in her mouth. She shakes her head from side to side, growling and snorting, twisting her body back and forth. She tosses Mousie into the air. She brings us the Mousie, wanting us to throw it … but she cannot bring herself to give it up, so she streaks off before we can take him away.
Poor, poor Mousie.