Eeek! May I borrow your cat? Mice. Please advise.

December 18, 2009

Letter to my landlord:
The super said he has them in his apt and so does the office manager but he’s from abroad and she grew up on a farm and they don’t mind trapping them. I was very upset when the first three got stuck in the gooey trap Cl gave me and the baby one cried.
The new ones are not attracted to the cheese I put out as bait in the “roach motel”  traps where you don’t have to look at them. Not sure if Cambridge mice are smarter than others  or if they just sniff at low -fat feta. EEEK. The guy just ran from under the fridge to under the stove, a foot from where I’m typing.
A friend who used to live in the building said a former super blocked off all holes, which stopped them–but she was able to pull out her stove and refrigerator. Could you please ask D. to have Cl. do that? If not that, could I get an OK to ask Cl  to come up to deal with any mice that get caught in gooey traps? I hate to bother him but I just can’t handle it.
My cat people friends say their animals either just play with mice or rip them up and leave the body parts lying around. DK which is worse. Yes, I do, Lisa says.
None of the cats seem to travel….and one named Claire,  wrote in to explain why she  won’t be available (her comments are included below).

Should I just give the mice names and adopt them as pets?

This morning a woman came into the Charles Hotel while I was having coffee…with a dog that was only a little bigger than these mice.
I am trying to think of them as giant hairy cockroaches but cockroaches don’t cry.
Please advise.
Care the cat


Santa Mouse

Compliments of an Australian client...

Dear G….The  mice are freaking me out. I think there are three  more…ot at least 2. In the last 24 hours, a big one and a small one have come from under the stove and  the refrigerator…and the sink….and the other day one came out from behind the sofa in the living room. I’m guessing they’re  living around  the pipes.

New Cambridge Observer is a publication of the Harris Communications Group of Cambridge, MA. We also publish HarrisComBlog and Ithaca Diaries Blog.
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Dec. 17
Thanks, Gus.
My downstairs neighbors don’t have them…yet…nor do others on my floor.  My cousin says that the smell of cats deters them. I could try that…might be able to borrow one from a friend who has one for a week or so. Unfortunately, the smell of cats also deters me….
Last night, the master of Quincy House said they had an infestation there this fall and called in “Best Pest;” they patched holes and set traps, which cleared up the problem. Anita

Dec. 18

Gus, someone left four sticky traps outside my door. I’m collecting  advice on my blog… so far,  it ranges from wearing a cat costume to sprinkling dried coyote urine around….Eeeew. Anita

From Edna:

Oh my!  If you want to stay at our house for a couple of days, or work in my office until they get rid of the mice, you’re more than welcome.  I’d be freaked out too.  I hate having uninvited critters sharing my space.

Re: Eeeeek!

Edna, thanks–I appreciate it. The guy who owns the building said he can’t do anything because if he poisons them they will go into the walls and smell bad…I’m  asking friends if I can borrow their cats….It’s kind of funny when I think about it…But not when they scoot around, here. Evidently, it’s a common problem. The super says HE has them, and so does the woman who works in our office…but they’re not bothered by them (or by killing them). A friend told me that  her husband had to keep mouse traps under his desk at the New York Times…  Another friend’s said he sees them at MGH…Eeeeek!  I’ll let you know if I need a place to stay…. tho I think that the landlord or the building owner, should pay for a hotel.


From Ann:  Alas, no. My cat is not a traveler: extremely shy and won’t come out when people she’s known for years come to visit! Also I can say (sadly) from experience she’s not a mouser: she’d rather chase, play, batter and torture a mouse than dispatch it.You might borrow a terrier- they’re bred as ratters and can snap a neck so fast you won’t see it.

OR, try my strategy:get some brown paper sandwich bags. bait the traps and set them inside the bags. Check the traps, and roll the whole mess up in the bag and dispose (outside cans). No mess, less fuss and you keep your hands clean.

Dec. 19 From Lisa: GaaROOOsome!! I didn’t see a single one at your b-day party!  When I was at Simmons, the two things that worked were:  1. peanut butter to attract them; 2. steel wool pads to block their entry.  The problem w/ having a cat is that you’ll then have dead mice all over the house.  Don’t know which is worse.  Well, yes, I guess I do.

Saturday Dec  19  At Haymarket, I told the cheese vendor that the mice won’t touch his low fat feata. He told me to forget the cheese. “Use pate,”    he said.   (Well, this IS  Cambridge).

Sunday Dec. 20:

Last night, I was watching TV when a little dark brown one ventured from behind the sofa (again). I jumped; he jumped back.  I got up and opened a box of sticky traps. Put them in big Trader Joe’s paper  bags, which I laid out near the sofa and stove. This morning: nothing. Eeeeeek!

Thursday, Dec. 24. Still nothing. I’m hoping that its being Christmas eve, not a creature will be stirring…not even…

Monday, Dec. 28
Last night, returned  from weekend away. Nothing in gooey or “hotel”  traps, despite non-fat cheese. Bought “bounce” per Judy’s suggestion– put sheets of this fabric softener under sofa, stove, fridge; smelled so bad I had to put it in a ziplock bag to store. Saw mouse scurry out of closet toward corner wall, so put one in there, too.  This morning, nothing in traps; my eyes watering, sore throat due to Bounce smell–so forget that. Today I am calling the health department.

January 7, 2010

Dear g:
Yes, [50 F… ]is still a great building but, FYI, we’ve had no heat or hot water for two days.  Evidently there were 7 pipe leaks and there’s still a problem with the boiler. Someone put up a sign saying they’re working on it, which I believe because the first floor is completely torn up.  We have to climb a small mountain of dirt to get to the mail boxes! For awhile, this morning, the elevator was out of service…
RE mice…only one, so far this week (perhaps the others have retreated into the walls to stay warm).  I called the Cambridge health department, which said that the property owner is required to bring in an exterminator…Would it be OK if I bring one in,  have him find and block the mouse holes in 512 and you bill  [D] for the service?
Thanks, Anita

FOR  MORE COMMENTS AND ADVICE, or to add them, please click on comments, just below.


27 Responses to “Eeek! May I borrow your cat? Mice. Please advise.”

  1. Karyl Says:

    Great piece of work and worry. We have a good trap I will lend you if you get up here to see us….but you have to remove the critter yourself. bye.

  2. anharris Says:

    This from my cousin Bob, who says:
    Old buildings, old town, no vermin controls.

    Yes, the smell of a cat will deter mice from an apartment in an old(er) building.

    Get a Bengel cat…males are very good at persuading mice to go elsewhere.

    Bob (who likes Siamese cats)

    Dear Bob: What’s a Bengal cat? Isn’t that a tiger???? That’s all I need up here on the fifth floor. What would I do…take him down in the elevator for a walk on the Cambridge Common?

    • anharris Says:

      Apologies, Bob. Wikipedia says Bengal cats look like leopards. Small version. Here’s a U-tube video of an attack Bengal — .

  3. Laura Says:

    Well, I don’t much like mice myself. Must be a genetic trait we share. I make Ed deal with any.
    I liked watching Mighty Mouse when we were kids. Maybe that’s why I am afraid of the real ones – using MM as a role model of power.
    (shiver, shiver, shiver)
    I like that idea of a tiger…unless you want to meet people while you are walking your pet.

    At least it is simply frigid up here in our house, not mouse-strewn. Hang in there. Maybe get a cat suit costume?? 🙂

    • anharris Says:

      You know, I HAVE a cat costume…a cat mask with whiskers, black velveteen tights, and a black velvet jacket with a belt that serves as a tail. I’ll try wearing that around the house. Do you think wearing a cat costume would be more helpful for meeting people than walking a tiger, outdoors?

  4. Susan W Says:


    I’ve had good luck using powdered urine, I think it’s called RodentAway, to keep the squirrels away from my Halloween pumpkin outdoors. It’s supposed to keep mice away too. I ordered mine through Amazon. Good luck with your mice!

    Nice to see you at lunch today.

  5. Claire G Says:

    Forwarded on behalf of Ms. Claire G

    Dear Anita,

    I am most tempted by the invitation to visit you. The idea of getting out and having a freshly killed meal is very enticing. However, I must respectfully decline for a number of reasons.

    First, I cannot guarantee that I will be able to solve you mice problem. I am a bit of dilettante. I do enjoy stalking and playing with vermin, but I generally let them go when the fun part is over.

    Secondly, I do not travel very well. I think I have PTSD from the month I spent in a cage before I found my current home. You see, whenever Mom or Dad put me in my cat carrier to go to the vet, I throw up or pee before I get to the vet’s office which is less than two miles away. I am afraid that I would have an accident in the car which is very embarrassing and traumatic for me.

    Third (and don’t tell Mom or Dad about this one), I really love my life of leisure. Even if I become a working cat as a favor to you, I could set a bad precedent. Mom & Dad might think that they have a real gold mine in the rent-a-cat business and I just want to be pampered.

    Sorry to disappoint you.



    • anharris Says:

      Claire, thanks so much for getting back to me. I understand completely. Would you be interested in meeting the attack bengal, to whose photo I’ve linked, below? Anita

      • anharris Says:

        This came in on email, late last night. I’m taking the liberty of posting it here. Anita


        Thank you for the offer to meet the bengal since I am quite starved for cat companionship; however, I really have the hots for Jasper, the cat next door. He, like me, is a beautiful Maine coon cat (though he comes from Florida, go figure). During the summer, I make Mom or Dad open the downstairs window in the evening so that I can sit in it and greet Jasper with the peculiar meow that is foreign to other types of cats when he walks by during his evening stroll. I just hope he doesn’t forget me over the cold winter when he will probably stay indoors and play with the three other cats in his house. A while ago, Mom said that she had talked to the neighbor about setting up a play date for us, but I haven’t heard anything further. Wouldn’t that be romantic (as long as we are not too closely chaperoned)? And it would certainly lessen my cabin fever this winter. See if you can encourage her. Then I can ask Jasper if he or any of his housemates might be able to help you out.


        • anharris Says:

          Claire, this is getting a little strange. I’m not a cat person (emphatically, especially after this, but I’ll see what I can do. The attack Bengal would meant a long distance relationship, anyway.

          SG: I can’t believe I am talking to your cat. But what do you think? Does she have a shot at Jasper?

          • Claire G's mom Says:

            Yes, I can believe that you are talking to my cat. I talk to her all the time; however, I never get the intelligent responses that you do, just cryptic meows.

            She may have a shot at Jasper who is more suitable than a bengal attack cat from my point of view. I don’t want an attack cat defending Claire against me for any perceived slights. Yes, I have spoken to Jasper’s parents about a possible play date, but not recently since the winter weather began.

            Also, I saw a late night TV infomercial for a Riddex product that you plug in and it is supposedly sends out sound waves that are imperceptible to humans and pets, but drives away rodents. Might be worth a try.

  6. sara Says:

    This has been funnier than I anticipated!The only recommendation I continue to recommend =Move out!!
    —-Your loving mother

  7. So here’s how it all began for me…. I opened the empty dog food bin and there, looking up at me was this mouse — pink eyes, nice teeth, smile and he’s asking, “howcum no dog fud?” So I told him, “Try foraging for nuts and berries like your cousins,” and brought the mouse avec bin to the woods behind my house. Adios Mickey!

    Two days later … we come home and he’s sitting on the chair rail in the dining room .. I’ve since learned mice will travel a mile to get back to where they came from. Same mouse, same pink eyes, same smile– I think he uses whitening strips. So this time my wife holds a McDonald’s milkshake cup on one end of the railing and I get behind him and say, “Boo!” Mouse runs along the chair rail, over my wife’s hand “Eeek!” then under a cabinet…

    Okay no problem. How much can one mouse eat?

    Then a week later … I come down to the kitchen at about 3 A.M and turn on the lights. Now there are three of them .. running across the top of the stove over the the counter and down a hole the size of a Number 2 pencil eraser … they did take time to nod and flip me the bird in mouse — they must have been taxi driver mice.

    Time for action.

    Now I have friends who hunt and the only thing I think about is how Mrs. Deer is going to feel when Mr. Deer doesn’t make it home for supper. So I borrowed a Have-A-Heart trap from my neighbor … and the mice ate the peanut butter and kicked the door shut on their way out. Then I got the kind where you don’t have to look at them when you dispose of them … no luck, they didn’t even try.


    Time for some strategic thinking. Maybe I can outwit them, turn their cleverness against them — I read the “The Prince” but no help. Then I checked out “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. Nope, no help there either. Then it came to me! “Google!” One click with a mouse and all the knowledge of the world appears right before your eyes. I relished in the sweet irony of clicking my computer mouse on the Google listing: “How to get rid of mice.”

    Here’s what works.

    Forget glue traps, their just plain mean. The old fashioned mousetrap — you get six for a buck… There is a reason why they still say, “build a better mousetrap….” Put out a lot of them too, along walls with the business end facing the wall. Mice don’t like open spaces.

    Peanut butter and not cheese … especially in Cambridge where they check your bags for Velveeta before they let you in. I haven’t grappled with the ethics of giving peanut butter to an occasional mouse who might be allergic.

    Mint — mice hate mint… maybe their mothers gave them lamb with mint jelly when they were kids and they still have not gotten over it. Maybe someone brought a mint Jello and marshmallow mold to a cocktail party at Chip Gates’s house and never got invited back.

    Now the only problem… mint is more invasive than raspberries and poison ivy. So now we have no rose bushes, no daffodils, no crocuses, no hydrangeas… just that damn mint.

    I keep hoping Mojitos will still be in by next summer!

    Dick Pirozzolo

  8. anharris Says:

    So, Dick….if I understand you correctly…lots of old fashioned traps…peanut butter…and mint? What do you do with the mint, exactly? Anita
    (PS Thanks for this…tho it is a bit freaky).

  9. anharris Says:

    Or should I say “Fr-eeek-y??

  10. Carrie Says:

    Hi Anita! I had a look at your mouse blog. I would willingly lend you a cat if you were a bit closer. Both of ours bring mice in from outside in their compound – the mice live in the compost bin- and if I don’t rescue them, they get eaten – every bit with no mess- well maybe a little bloodstain occasionally. These are native mice and I usually manage to catch them before they get damaged and take them outside again. We don’t have house mice inside the house but when I did in England- didn’t have a cat then- the man in the hardware store told me that cheese was a fizzer and that you need to put a piece of Mars bar on the mouse trap. That worked well as they couldn’t get at it without springing the trap and no mouse was left still alive and in pain. So, try Mars bar and a standard spring mouse trap. I think this is more humane than poison but rat bait – which is the drug we humans use for blood- thinning – warfarin- works but they don’t die very quickly.

  11. anharris Says:

    we live in an old house with park all around so mice are a fact of life. they are tiny and can squeeze in any tiny opening along a pipe or wall or This in from Judy R in Louisville:

    we live in an old house with park all around so mice are a fact of life. they are tiny and can squeeze in any tiny opening along a pipe or wall or from a basement up a pipe.
    i’ve used toxic bags and they do die but under fridges, dishwashers and you never smell em. but who wants to see their leavings? the bounce i discovered online as a reader tip — these are fabric softener strips they seem to hate the smell of. you put in new strips every week or less…. where you think they come in.

    good luck and happy holidays!

    • anharris Says:

      I bought the Bounce. Put sheets of the stuff under the sofa, stove, and in the closet (after a mouse scurried out, last night). Now I am sneezing all the time so had to pull them up. That one’s out. Today I’m calling the health department.

      • Laurie from the Museum Says:

        We have a summer house in Gloucester that has periodic intruders (even a skunk once!). We have found peanut butter to be the best for enticing mice into the enclosed no-see-um traps. Problem is, the peanut butter actually attracts more mice! If we don’t put out traps, there is usually minimal droppings. If we put out the traps, the place gets infested. Hard to know what to do. Move?

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