‘Twas right around Christmas when Pip got the mouse

#348 in a series of true experiences in real estate
January 2001, Hills Newspapers

A mouse ate my dishwasher. Who could believe it, but it’s true!
As I’ve mentioned before, my daughter Annie’s young cat, by the name of Pip, is a hunter. We had never seen mice at our house before we adopted this cat and were therefore surprised when we began to find mouse remains on the patio outside my kitchen.

We hoped the cat was finding them at our neighbor’s houses, not at ours, and that wherever they came from, their numbers were decreasing.

About a month ago, we noticed Pip spending a lot of time lying on the kitchen floor attentive to the bottom of the refrigerator. When we heard some rustling noises, we guessed that Pip had brought or chased a mouse inside, then lost him. Not knowing what to do about the situation, we did nothing.

Pip continued his surveillance, often posting himself both in the morning and again in the evening for an hour or so each time. Sometimes he watched the opposite side of the room where the dishwasher and sink are located. We figured that the mouse was moving about at night when everyone including the cat was asleep, as we never got a glimpse of him.

A couple of times we found mouse droppings on the slide-out breadboard, and this served to soothe us: there is precious little space between the cabinet and the breadboard. Only a very slender animal could possibly be living in our kitchen.

And so it went, and I have to admit that I was somewhat charmed by the situation: frustrated cat trying, but failing, to catch tiny mouse.

Then one day, a week or so before Christmas, I loaded the dishwasher, put in the soap, and turned on the machine. It made humming noises as usual, but ten minutes passed and I realized that there was no sound of water sloshing around inside. When I opened the dishwasher door, the liquid soap was lying just outside the dispenser. There was no water.

The appliance repairman arrived and began to dissemble the dishwasher. It didn’t take but a few minutes for him to show me the large hole chewed in the black water hose. “You have a mouse,” he said. “We’ll have to replace the hose.”

I thought this was very strange as there are all kinds of good things for mice to eat in my kitchen – dry cat food in bowls, crackers and bread, cereal, etc., all easily accessible. This mouse had not eaten any of those things. He had instead eaten a rubber hose.

Perhaps I should mention here something that the repairman told me. I have a Bosch dishwasher which, it turns out, is equipped with a pan underneath it and a float. If water flows into the pan and activates the float, the machine automatically cuts off the water. A flood in the kitchen is avoided. You might want to keep this in mind next time you buy a dishwasher. You might have your own mouse someday.

We bought some mouse poison and put it under the dishwasher. I’m sorry, but we had to do something. $125 later, we were back in business. I was hoping that the mouse would die quietly and preferably, outside the house.

But Pip continued to lie in the kitchen staring at the bottom of the appliances. A day or so before Christmas, I again started the dishwasher and again, there was a notable lack of water running.

I put in a call to the repairman, then removed everything from under the sink, taking the opportunity to clean out the area, and examined the situation. I still couldn’t see any evidence of the mouse but I did find a space around the hose from the dishwasher to the pipes under the sink. I’d heard somewhere that rodents won’t chew through steel wool, so that’s what I used to plug the hole.

Our most accommodating repairman arrived, confirmed what we had suspected – same situation as before – and agreed to wrap the water hose with steel wool secured with plastic netting and electrical tape. The charge for his ministrations was another $125. This was getting to be a very expensive mouse.

As I write this, the dishwasher mouse lies dead outside the kitchen door. Pip finally got him.

I was sitting at the kitchen table reading my morning newspaper when, upon hearing a scuffling, I got up to see a rather remarkable sight: Pip had somehow managed to catch the mouse’s tail through one of the narrow slots in the vent at the base of the refrigerator. Cat with tail in teeth was on one side; the rest of the mouse was on the other.

Just then the cat lost his grip on the tail and I, making a quick, murderous decision, removed the vent cover plate. Pip moved fast. He caught the mouse and, carrying it in his mouth, hurried to the living room to – where else? – behind the couch.

I opened doors to the outside. I stamped my feet, imploring Pip to remove the mouse to the out-of-doors. I pulled the couch away from the wall and yelled. Neither cat nor mouse moved.

My 17-year-old son, Nick, was asleep in bed. I went to wake him up. “Honey, I’m really sorry to wake you, but I need you. The cat’s got a mouse and we need it to be outside.”

“Oh, man, can’t Annie do it?” Nick groaned. But he got up, reached for his glasses, and stumbled down the hall wearing only his boxers. It really was funny.

Nick deposited the mouse in the garden. The cat followed. Nick went back to bed.

With cat and mouse now outside, I closed the doors. Then I loaded the dishwasher.

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