Open Mic: Life In a No-Kill Household

By Sam Case

In Marin and Sonoma, we love our wildlife—but in the wild, not in our houses. Alas, in our house our cats and their cat door mean that raccoons, rats, mice, birds and, yes, one skunk have all ended up inside. We awoke one night to find two bats flying around the living room. They were part of the feline catch-and-release program—catch outside and release inside. My wife, Judy, and I do our best to usher this wildlife back into the wild as gently as possible.

This nonviolent attitude seems to have rubbed off on our cat, Harold. For a time, Harold caught mice and brought them into the house. He never killed them, but played with them until they inevitably escaped under some piece of furniture.

Occasionally, in the evenings, one of the mice would emerge into the living room. This provoked an explosion of activity as Judy leaped up to catch the mouse and carry him outside, while Harold tried to pin him down for more one-sided play. Eventually, the mice formed a commune behind the stove, which they soon rendered unusable by employing the oven as a toilet. We were saved by a better mousetrap: a device that trapped the mice without harming them.

A more difficult problem has arisen recently: a plague of tiny moths that lay eggs in flour and other foodstuffs. The resulting worms are hard to detect and are sometimes baked into bread or muffins, thus causing the most dedicated vegetarian to become an unwitting meat eater.

Some weeks into this invasion, I told Judy I had a solution: I would buy a small butterfly net, and remove all the moths from the house. She pondered this for a while, then announced that, while this method might work, we had certain responsibilities. The moths, like Elsa the lioness of Born Free, had grown up in captivity. Before we released them into the wild then, we would—as they did with Elsa—have to teach them how to hunt.

I’m still trying to figure out how to accomplish this …

Sam Case lives in Fairfax. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected]
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