The Rockwood Files: Things that go meow in the night

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

Last night around 11 p.m., we heard a familiar noise from the darkened hallway outside our bedroom door. It was part moan, part growl and part muffled meow. Tom and I glanced at each other because we knew what that sound meant. Percy had another mouse.

Not a real mouse, mind you. But it’s as close as an indoor cat gets to indulging her nocturnal hunting instincts. Percy’s “mouse” is a 2-inch piece of shag rug plucked from a beige-colored bath mat. One by one, Percy captures each string and pulls percyit free from the mat. Then she swipes it with her clawless paw, sending it sliding across the cool tiles of the bathroom floor.

I guess it’s that movement that convinces Percy the string is really a mouse skittering away. So she gives chase – dashing after it until she pounces and lands with a soft thud, pinning the wayward string under her paws. Then she picks it up in her fearsome teeth and flings it up into the air. When it lands, she bats at it again and begins the chase anew.

After a half hour or so of intense “mouse” chasing, Percy picks up the captured string and begins a slow victory lap down the hallway with the slain string dangling halfway out of her mouth. She skulks around the house making that tell-tale sound that seems to translate to this: “Behold me, your majestic housecat, and the fresh kill I hold in my lethal jaws.” After parading around a while, Percy lays the defeated mouse by the bedroom door and goes back to her main occupation – napping and shedding hair.

For now, the house is safe from bath mat mice – at least until the next time Percy follows someone into the bathroom and snatches another string from the mat, thus beginning the cycle all over again.

There have been many times I’ve considered throwing away that pitiful bathroom rug. After years of being slowly scalped, it’s not nearly as pretty or plush as it once was. But I can’t seem to do it. What would Percy do for entertainment? Even more important, what would Percy do for exercise? Her bath mat mouse-hunting ritual is the only calorie-burning activity she does all day. And this cat could definitely afford to burn a few thousand calories.

In the four years since she came home with us, Percy has plumped up to be roughly the size of a smart car – only hairier. It’s ironic because when we found her – a stray roaming the woods – she was literally skin and bones. Perhaps her time spent starving took her metabolism down to zero because these days Percy gains weight when she watches a Fancy Feast commercial on TV. She looks like she scarfs down a large pepperoni pizza and a bag of Doritos every single day. When guests come to our house and spot her lounging by the window, they all say the same thing. “Wow! That’s one big cat.”

What they don’t know, however, is that our fat cat is also a mighty huntress, fearless in the face of threatening bath mats and wayward pieces of fuzz. If you stay up late enough and listen closely, you’ll hear her battle cry outside the bedroom door. “I am cat. Hear me roar.”

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.