Failing at Cat Motivation

Apparently I have a mouse in my pantry. I say this because many packages have little shredded edges and the chocolate has tooth marks. I was relatively OK when the mouse ate the cough drops—maybe it has a tiny mouse-sized cough—but eating my chocolate is going too far.

It’s not as if I have something against mice in general—I had pet mice as a child—and I am not of the scream-and-run variety of person. (I leave that behavior for snakes in the garage.) But the mouse not only eats my chocolate but also occasionally stores seeds and half-eaten mini-Kit-Kat bars in my bedding, and if anyone is going to be eating chocolate in the bed, it’s going to be me.

Luckily, I have a large, fluffy cat. He’s something like 12 or so pounds, and is definitively a cat of substance. He also has caught and killed mice on more than one occasion.  I’m not sure that I could bring myself to set a mousetrap, glue trap, or use one of those mouse hotel box type contraptions where I assume (never having done much research) that they slowly starve to death. I really bear the mouse no ill will, but since cats are cats and mice are mice I was also completely OK with nature taking its course.

Except it didn’t.

The cat was initially very interested in the mouse.

Contrary to how it may look, I did not actually stuff the cat onto the shelf for a photo op, though, to be honest, it does seem like something I would do. The point is that I didn’t have to. The cat jumped up there all by himself and did…what exactly, I couldn’t tell from his tail-end. All I know was that the next day there were new chew marks on my bag of almonds. I propped the pantry door open so the cat could have access at all hours of the day or night to perform his catly duties, but after that one pantry expedition, he lost interest entirely.

I tried to order him to “get the mouse.” I tried to shame him. I even threatened to stop feeding him until he caught the mouse, but—just like my children—he was not afraid of me. He knew I’d bring out the kibble on schedule whether he caught the mouse or not, and he was right. It turns out, a cat can be an incredibly inefficient mouse removal solution. I’m apparently not a great motivator, or the cat really doesn’t speak English—it’s unclear at this point.

Next, I will try to give the cat affirmations:

 You’re a great mouser!

Look at your fabulous paws—I can tell they are perfect for catching mice!

You got this, kitty! Today’s the day!

You are a mouse-eating machine!


Eh, sounds dumb to me too. Perhaps I will just shove him in the pantry and close the door. “Two furries enter…one furry leaves.”

I could just buy mouse-proof containers and move on with my life. They can’t live that long—can they? But what if  they can live for years? What if it is not one lone mouse, but a family of mousies?  Perhaps the best plan of action is to buy another cat to spark the competitive spirit in my existing one.  To be safe, I probably better buy several.


Want me in your inbox?

Copyright © 2024 Lara Lillibridge

Public domain imagery courtesy of

Tweet Follow Only_Mama