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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

CSI My Kitchen, Part II

In my last post (which I recommend reading before you read further on this one), I had made a rather disheartening discovery one morning of a toy Mousie laying in a sad, wet puddle in my kitchen. A few days later, I was confronted with the felt-eyed stare of another victim.

My current theory was that they had been Waterbowled.

Since my dogs were with me all night, they had....ahem...watertight alibis.  So I figured the culprit was one of the cats or kittens. But Dawn, Athena, Calvin and Elsa Clair were all innocence and whiskers, and nobody came forward as a witness, or to confess.

With two dunked Mousies, I wondered if perhaps the perpetrator was making a game out of it, and feared this may be just the start of a trend.

And then, a few days after I encountered the first two victims, my fears were realized, as yet another bedraggled and sogged cat toy lay just a few inches from the water bowl.

Victim #3: Another Pink Mousie

I had to face the facts; we now had on our hands--or paws--a Serial Dunker.

And it only got worse from there.

Every few days I would discover a new twist on the crime:

Three Dunked Mousies:

Multiple victims

Two victims, still in the water bowl:

Floating like ex-goldfish.

Dunked Crinkle Balls:

Jasper is on the case.

It looked like our perp was getting creative.

Once again, I tried to interrogate our four suspects. The following are excerpts from our interviews. I've provided translations for those who don't speak Cat.

Me: Dawn, where were you last night?
Dawn: Merp. Merp. Mowl. [Translation: I was sleeping. Or something. Where's my Noms?]


Me: Athena, were you responsible for this wet Mousie?
Athena: Mew. Ew. Ew. [Translation: Yuck! I wouldn't touch that thing. It's wet.]


Me: Calvin, do you know who waterbowled this Mousie?
Calvin: Mrow! Eerow. Purr. Purr. Purr. [Translation:  Mousie! I want to play with it.]


Me: Elsa Clair, what do you know about these Dunked Mousies?
Elsa Clair: Meeoow? Marow wow. Purr. [Translation: Dunked Mousies? I don't know anything. Gotta run, got stuff to do.]

Elsa Clair

In short, I was getting nowhere fast.

And I was running out of Mousies.

And thus, I felt lucky when the next weekend I got a break in the case.

Or maybe luck had nothing to do with it. I was home and therefore was able to keep a closer eye on Things. Like Cats.

I had decided to try an experiment; I didn't clean up the Dunked Mousies immediately after discovering them. I left them out, to see who might play with them; maybe I'd catch our little Dunker in the act.

Sure enough, Calvin came by. Started pawing at the wet Mousies. Batting at them. Sniffing at them. But that's all he did. And it didn't prove anything other than the fact that Calvin found waterlogged fake fur intriguing enough to play with.

These Mousies are wet!

Calvin toys with one of

The next day, yet another sad little Mousie floated in the waterbowl. Even though it seemed wrong somehow, I left it there for awhile.

Once again, Calvin took interest. He sniffed at and then gently touched the bobbing blue toy. A few times. Then he walked away. And that was that. Which only showed that my little black and white kitty liked to poke things in the water. It just wasn't enough.

What's in the waterbowl, Calvin?

Mousie smells kinda watery.

And stopped. As suddenly as it started.

The toys were still found in various places around the house.

But not in or near the waterbowl. And not drenched.

Weeks went by. I guess Someone got bored. Or wet. Or cautious.

No more bodies. No more floating Mousies.

Calm settled over the household. I began to walk barefoot again. I would look in the waterbowl and find only water.

Until, one day in late winter, while my husband was sitting at the kitchen table, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with his requisite glass of Ovaltine, he saw it.

From across the table he could see Calvin facing the waterbowl with his back to Brian. With a flick of his paw, Calvin fished a Mousie out of the water. And then picked it up in his mouth and plunked it back in. Flicked it out. Dunked it in. Flicked it out.

Perhaps feeling Brian's accusatory gaze, Calvin froze and turned around. He looked at Brian, calmly turned around and walked away, tail held high.

Of course that doesn't really prove anything about the original crimes. Perhaps Calvin had been the culprit all along. Maybe he learned from the real mastermind, who has since given up the habit.

But that  was the last of it. Months later and there have been no additional victims.

The Mousies in our house can rest easy.

It's over.

Or  is it?

And so it begins...


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

CSI My Kitchen

In the winter morning darkness, I tried not to stumble down the stairs. Jasper, Lilah and Tucker, all legs and tails and happy moods, swirled around me. Though I've been getting up for years at this obscene hour of the day, 6 AM always seems much more objectionable when the sun hasn't even thought about approaching the horizon. And here, on the mountaintop, where the rays take their time to climb past the height and the trees, it's tempting to call it night time and creep back to bed.

But one has to pay the bills, and the Dogs Need to Go Outside and the Cats Must Be Fed. And so it goes most weekday mornings as I convince myself I don't have to turn on the lights. Because I shouldn't have to do that in the morning. I just shouldn't. And if I squint the right way, I can see enough through the limpid dark to get to the kitchen. Only then do I allow myself to flip a switch; since I'm turning the lights on in just one room, it somehow feels a little more acceptable to my sleep-deprived brain.

Which is why, in the moment before my fingers reached out to shed some light on my morning, I didn't see it. And I stepped in it.

Nothing like putting a bare and vulnerable foot into something wet and slippery and unseen to stop you cold. If you have pets, you'll understand the list of possibilities that flashed through my head at that frozen moment.

I slapped the light on.

And looked down.

The lifeless body lay limply on my kitchen floor. The tail thrown at an awkward angle. Eyes black and sightless as felt. Pink ears darkened and sagging. Fur wet, matted...and blue.

It took me a moment to register the death of a cat toy--a once vibrant blue fake-fur Mousie.

While my husband and I and the dogs had slept blissfully unaware--well, maybe not blissfully, but definitely unaware--a tiny kitty plaything was being drenched and ruined.

I had walked into a crime scene, literally, as I was still standing in a splash of water,  a few inches away from the victim.

The Victim: Blue Mousie

But right now, I had business to attend to, as Jasper, Lilah and Tucker reminded me, scampering to the back door in anticipation of their morning constitutional.

Leaving the scene undisturbed, I took the dogs outside, set them to their business and returned, to begin the slow, painstaking work of solving the Mystery of the Drowned Mousie.  That was my theory, at least; death by waterbowl.  Anyway, with the dogs outside, it would be a little easier to look for clues without a dozen large paws muddying the evidence.

I removed the body and placed it by a heating vent, in the hope that it would dry out enough to still be a viable kitty amusement. Other than the splashes of water and the proximity to the bowl, there were no other hints of the culprit or the act; whoever he or she was had not left behind any telling details.

I brought the dogs in and began the daily breakfast routine, feeding the cats first, then the dogs. As the kitties chowed down, I looked at the fe-line up and pondered which of them had done in the Mousie.

The Line Up

Jasper, Lilah and Tucker, of course, had perfect alibis; they were with my husband and I all night, in our bedroom with the door closed. And since I was the last human to bed, I knew first-hand there were no bodies in the kitchen before I headed upstairs.

I decided to interrogate the cats that night, after I got home from work. I interviewed them one at a time, away from each other, in case Someone was in cat cahoots with Someone Else.

"Does this look familiar?" I asked each cat, holding up the now-dried but somewhat scraggly blue fur toy by the tail. I was hoping to catch the killer off guard and reveal a guilty look.

The Suspects:

Dawn, the Queen

Athena, the Master Mind

Calvin, Stupendous Cat

Elsa Clair, Smart 'n' Sweet 

The results were somewhat predictable.

Each cat in turn looked adorable, swatted at the toy and then chased it when I tossed it across the floor.

Note to self: Cats Don't Do Guilt.

With no clues, no additional evidence, no confessions and no witnesses, my case had reached a dead end rather quickly. I was stumped and it looked like our mystery would never be solved.

Maybe, though, I was looking at it wrong. It could have been an accident. Perhaps someone had inadvertently knocked the Mousie in the waterbowl from atop the buffet. Instead I should be looking for the hero who fished it out.

The story could have ended right there. I had started to think I had an anonymous cat crusader, rescuing helpless toys from the terror of the deep water dish. I began to look at my cats with pride, knowing one of them had seen a wrong and righted it.

But sometimes evildoers get hooked on the evil that they do. And mischief makers want to make more mischief.  And thus it was when I came downstairs a few days later to find another victim.

This time it was pink.

Victim #2: Pink Mousie

Once again, the sad, soggy fake-furry creature lay in a puddle of water. Once again, the absence of clues was maddening. And once again, the cats maintained their innocence.

Over the next several days, I would find myself looking at the bewhiskered suspects. "Which of you is it? Which of you during the darkest hours of the night finds it a satisfying to dunk a Mousie?"

I couldn't helping thinking as I looked into those enigmatic eyes above cute pink noses. Someone is Hiding Something.

Okay, well, Someone Hides Something nearly every day, as I discover cat toys under pillows, tucked in couch cushions and mixed in with the laundry. But this was different.

Deep inside, I feared that one of them had become a serial dunker.

And it would be only a matter of time before another Mousie got dunked.

Will the kitty culprit strike again?
Will I have to buy more Mousies?
Will we ever know whodunit?

Read my next post to find out.