My daughter may never eat another Pop-Tart. She pushed her pastries down into the toaster and started to heat them up when a mouse popped up and went running away. We knew we had a problem on our hands.

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In the house we live in now, we never before had any issues with rodents. When we lived in the country, we had mice who would sneak into the garage, or even the warm hood of the minivan and chew into the insulation. But our current home had been mouse-free. We thought it would stay that way; one of the reasons being our cat.

Scout is a born huntress, a quality about which I have mixed feelings. She looks regal as a lioness walking across the fence and leaps with a grace only a feline can. But I don’t like killing animals and, in the past, this has led me to try some extreme things before considering lethal means of pest control, even with home-eating insects like carpenter ants. We had intended for Scout to be an indoor cat, but our dog had a dog door, the kind with a lock controlled by a collar, and Scout’s a smart cat. She learned how to follow him out, slipping through on his tail before the door could fully close and re-lock itself, and then couldn’t get back in. So we gave in. Off came the lock.

our beautiful terror scout the cat cats can cause rodent problems

Big mistake. The “gifts” started: from snakes to moles, some of them alive. We had to rescue a bunny Scout picked up like a kitten and brought in, toying with it. This culminated in the toaster-mouse episode and the realization that we had a rodent problem on our hands. We wondered, could it be that Scout was the source rather than the solution?

We finally had a pest control guy come out after keeping the cat inside and hoping she’d do her job. No chance. I tried using non-lethal means, like the gizmos that emit noise to drive rodents away, the “kill-free” traps, to rodent deterrent spray, a move of ultimate hypocrisy considering that we’d already unleashed the beast in the backyard. We asked the exterminator about cats as a source of rodent issues. “Oh, yeah, I’ve seen that before,” he answered, “it sounds strange — you think cats are going to catch the mice — but it happens a lot.”

Cats are known to bring trophies, some cats bring ’em in alive, and if their prize gets away and out of sight, it’s “bored now,” and the cat goes on to something else. Rodent problem accomplished.

Additionally, some studies have shown that, at least when it comes to rats, cats are pretty ineffective.

We finally got our rodent problem under control. The solution to prevent recurrence was obvious: keep the cat inside or supervise her coming and going. Just consider that if you have a cat and ever have an open-door policy, Fluffy may be the cause of the problem, not the solution.

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