88. A Tale of Two Tails     

Some of you might have followed the escapades of our youngest cat, Titan, in previous blogs. Here he is. All sweetness and light, isn’t he?

Titan rat

Except he isn’t. Don’t be fooled by that cute, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-my-mouth look. Make no mistake, this weeny little cat is a lean, mean, killing machine who has excelled himself recently. No doubt the neighbours are delighted that the mice/rat/vole population has been decimated since he joined our happy tribe, but we’re not. Well I’m not. I’m a bit squeamish about catching and rounding up his unwilling houseguests (despite having kept pet rats in the past), so we have an agreement that Stephen catches the wildlife, while I sort out the sick. Let’s just say it works for us.

The hunting seems to go in phases, where we have a few weeks of no bodies or little brown animals scampering around, then suddenly we’re inundated. This week has been particularly challenging as on Wednesday we noticed a particular smell in the kitchen. There’s a really good reason for the expression, “I smell a rat”, as anyone who’s kept rats will agree. Apparently they don’t have bladders, consequently leaving a trail of urine wherever they go. As pets they are funny, yes, clever, yes, entertaining, yes, and very smelly, also a yes, no matter how much you clean them out. Trust me, we’ve had six.

A few years ago we had a similar situation when a rat managed to get behind the washing machine/dishwasher/sink unit and after several days of rat hunting and half-destroying the kitchen, we managed to rescue it. To counter any such repetition of events we stuffed towels into likely gaps, which seemed to work really well, if looking a bit weird. Then recently we had a bit of a redecorate and very stupidly decided we might be safe enough now to take the towels away as they didn’t look that great, TBH. Anyway, back to Wednesday evening, when we realised we’d made a very silly decision as there was clearly a rat camping out behind the units again. Aaargh. It really wasn’t the time to start heaving everything around, so we went to bed hoping Mr/Ms Rat would make an escape bid during the night.

Clearly by the next morning it hadn’t, as judged by the increasing ratty aroma. Sigh. We were off to London for a book launch later that day, but felt the need to try to rescue the poor thing before we left. Plus we didn’t want it starving to death behind the units as that would have smelt even worse. That’s happened behind a bookcase in the not too distant past. Yuk. Moving on.

We set about heaving the dishwasher and washing machine out. And then taking the kickboards off.

Here’s the evidence

Kitchen 1

Kitchen 2

We’re not normally this messy, promise. This is what happens when you have to take all the contents out of the cupboards to check it hasn’t climbed in there through the holes where the pipes go. Then just as we were completely unprepared, a baby rat belted out from behind the washing machine, round the front of it and back under the sink unit. Nooo! We spent a good while trying to get behind there without completely destroying the kitchen in the process, and eventually had to give up as we had to leave for our train. At least leaving all the units out gave us a bit of hope it would escape on its own. Our lovely neighbour Rose comes to feed the cats if we’re away, so I had to leave a note explaining why the kitchen looked a lot worse than usual. I’m hoping she believed me…

Friday whizzed by in a tired blur as we got back really really late from the book launch and we couldn’t bring ourselves to start banging around again at the end of another long day, so with heavy hearts and a bombsite of a kitchen we headed for bed.

Guess how this morning turned out? Yes! More head scratching and prodding of units to rescue the rat, which was starting to feel like part of the family by now. Hopefully a live one. You might wonder why we assumed it was still there. The big clue was in the ginger ninja waiting patiently by the washing machine (no, not to do his washing – it wasn’t his day). It’s usually pretty obvious where Titan has left his guest as he hangs around whichever piece of furniture it’s hiding behind until he can’t literally can’t keep his eyes open. You know cats sleep 80% of the day? Not when they’re staking out their prey. We had one baggy-eyed cat this morning. Ha!

So there was a lot more banging around and sliding of things down tiny spaces to try and scare/coerce/prise our little rodent out, but eventually through extreme boredom combined with no outcome we decided to abandon our search and go shopping, just for a change of scenery. And then when we got back and saw just how the kitchen looked, we decided we were fed up of living in such a tip and that by now the rat would surely have either died or escaped. At which point Stephen noticed that Titan was staking out a new area. Hurrah!! It was alive! This should be a doddle after the shenanigans in the kitchen. So hoping it’s the same rat and not a new one. Hmm. Gentle investigation revealed a little furry face poking out from underneath the book case in the hall, so we lined up the rat-catching pint glass at one end, blocked the other end with a cushion and gently tried to encourage him out.

Here’s the pic (you can’t see the cushion)


At which point he scarpered through the TINY gap between cushion and wall, then legged it across the hall to hide behind our very heavy sheesham sideboard (which we’re trying to sell BTW just in case anyone out there is interested). So we gently heaved that out to discover – no rat. And that door is CLOSED.


So where the hell was he now? With three cats prowling around you’d think one of them would have noticed Rattius legging it across the lounge, although TBH Titan by this stage was looking like he’d had a night on the razz. The lounge is pretty naked at the moment (post decorating) and the only POSSIBLE place if he managed to squeeze through that tiny gap in the door, was the one remaining bookcase in there. So out that came. Sorry, no pic. And there he was! Hiding in the hollow corner underneath it. Yay! Stephen rushed off to get The Glass while I kept watch. At which point Rattius belted out towards the back wall and along behind the sofa. No! It wasn’t me! Not my fault! Stephen reappeared with The Glass and, not best pleased,  cautiously investigated the back corner of the lounge which includes a desk and a whole load of stuff, whereupon Rattius decided to make a break for freedom and headed out to the conservatory, hotly pursued by Titan who’d sleepily clocked that something was going down.

You’re probably bore shitless by now, but it has taken up a LOT of my time this week so I just had to inflict it on you. With Titan bundled safely behind the conservatory door and the two Oldies on the decking – they don’t move for anything except food these days – we opened the door to the outside and The Prisoner leapt to freedom, trampling right over Rowan’s tail in the process. She was like, ‘Oh there’s something walking over my tail. Oh. It’s a rat. Can I be bothered anymore? Nah.’ Well praise be for that. Rio made a very half-hearted attempt to follow behind, but fortunately I managed to distract him. And so Rattius is gone. And we’re exhausted. And the place is a tip. But he’s free, and I really hope he survives and stays that way.

And one final thing. Did I tell you I have a new book out? Yep. Follow the link at the top of the bar on the right and you can read aaaaallll about it. Ideal summer reading and a lot of fun with a bit of darkness thrown in. Enjoy.

Wishing you all good health and happiness

Margaret xx



About Margaret Cahill

After diagnosis of Mantle Cell Lymphoma in 2013, I started this blog to stay in touch with friends, family, and and an ever increasing network of lovely people who sent me healing. The readership increased and I ended up blogging for all I was worth to try and stay sane through the chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. Then after I went into remission (thankfully) I was enjoying the writing so much that I have carried on, and the blog seems to have become a bit of a resource for people, which is lovely. The original year of blogs have now been made into a book, Under Cover of Darkness: How I Blogged my Way Through Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It fills in a lot of the gaps between the blogs, and the tone falls somewhere between graveyard humour and explicit details of chemo treatments. I do hope you enjoy it :-) Mxx
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