Luanne Austin Mugshot

After decades of due diligence, it finally happened.

Mom always told me to step on the front of my shoes before putting them on in case a mouse had crawled in there.

Last week, there WAS a mouse in my shoe. It was hiding from the cat.

I screamed. What is it with mice and screaming? It’s a particular type of scream, more like a shriek. It gives me a sore throat.

We’ve always had a cat or two in the house and while it is an advantage from a mouse control standpoint, it does have its downsides.

Like sometimes a mouse might take refuge from the cat by running behind the refrigerator and be so afraid that it crawls into some crevice in the appliance and trembles there for however long it takes for it to die, but you don’t know it’s there until it starts to smell — a distinctive odor that is hard to track down — and when you finally pull the refrigerator away from the wall — it’s always filthy back there — you have to get down on all fours to see the little crevice where you find the dead mouse.

When I say “you,” I don’t mean “me.” This is tacitly understood as the husband’s task.

(By the way, I refer to the husband as “the husband” because he asked me to. When I began writing this column many moons ago, he was a manufacturing supervisor and my use of his name was, at times, depending on sensitivity of the topic, a source of embarrassment. He was a fan of Henny Youngman, a comedian who referred to his wife as “the wife.” So there you have it.)

The cat would be a more effective mouser if she just killed the mouse quickly. But no, she has to torture the poor thing, wounding it and terrorizing it.

That’s the definition of cat-and-mouse games: “behavior like that of a cat with a mouse: such as, a: the act of toying with or tormenting something before destroying it; b: a contrived action involving constant pursuit, near captures, and repeated escapes.”

As for us humans living out here in the country, battling mice is a fact of life.

A woman recently told me that she’s learned to co-exist with the mice. But I don’t like finding mouse poop among my silverware, in my pots and pans or on the counters where I prepare food.

Years ago, in a little-used bottom drawer of my dresser, I found that a shimmery shirt had been chewed up by a mouse. My bedroom is upstairs and I’d never heard it in there. I plugged up any possible access to my dresser with aluminum foil.

Supposedly, mice hate aluminum foil. But that whole story about just having a cat in the house will keep the mice away? Not true.

Years ago, a co-worker told me to set mouse poison in the basement. We did that for years and saw nary a mouse.

It worked until it didn’t. At some point, the mice began feasting on the little green pellets. So we tried another brand containing a different poison. They liked that one even better.

Then we resorted to good old-fashioned mouse traps. When I say “we,” I mean the husband. He discovered that peanut butter is a more effective lure than cheese.

Sure enough, for the first week or so after setting out the traps, there’s a steady sound of snaps and subsequent removal of dead bodies.

However, if you, dear reader, can suggest a more efficient method of mouse control, please let me know.

Luanne Austin lives in Mount Sidney.

Contact her at, or care of the DN-R.

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