I have a rat problem. I’ve lived in my house for over 8 years, and I’ve never had a rodent problem before. Mainly, I assumed, because I have always had several cats. Indoor cats, they aren’t allowed outside, but most of them were street cats before I adopted them, so they know their way around a rodent.
My garage is attached to the house and there is a cat door into the garage where the felines have their meals and their litter boxes, this is to keep the dogs from invading the cat’s space.
So imagine my surprise when I not only learn I have a rat problem, but the only space the rats are invading is the cat’s space!
Another thing to note here is that I rescue wildlife, I’m not about to use poison or lethal traps on my invaders, but I do need them to respect the boundaries of what is uniquely mine versus where they are permitted to dwell. They can have the yard and the shed, and the crawlspace. But they may not continue to defecate on my craft supplies or polish off the cat’s food.
The rat’s appeared shortly after the death of my old calico cat. By far the feistiest of my clan, so perhaps she kept them at bay whereas my other’s have all gotten a tad lazy.
For about a month I tried to figure out where exactly the rats were coming in from, but until I can clear the entire garage out, that’s a problem I can not rectify. I have instead set up two live traps. And as par for the course, the first three nights I put food in the traps, the food disappeared and the traps were still set. Se la vie.
Interestingly, after the third night of disappeared food and empty traps, there was a dead rat in my living room! Eww, yes, but also yay! What must have gone through my cat’s heads? For almost five weeks they allow the rats to invade their space but they finally see me set a trap for them and they think “Oh, she doesn’t want them here? Guess we should do something about that?” Did they pow-wow? Was there an agreement made amongst my three cats to assist me?
For two additional days, the traps were set but the food didn’t disappear. The rats must have gotten spooked by the lose of one of their teammates.
On day three, I walked into the garage with my three meowing cats, always doing that ankle-tripping morning greeting waiting for breakfast, and low and behold, we have a rat in one of the traps. Only one of my cats seemed particularly surprised by this and immediately left my side to go investigate. The other two glanced over but clearly already knew of this progress in our rat-itication and simply wanted their breakfast dished up.
The rat that was killed and the rat that I trapped were clearly siblings, younger rats, not quite full grown yet. We had more work to do.
Six days passed with my baited traps empty every morning, some days with the food missing and some days with the food still there.
And then two nights ago, another dead rat in the living room. While I appreciate my cat’s hard work, I do so wish they would just leave their trophy in the garage!
This third rat was still on the young side, another sibling to the first two.
In the wee hours of this morning, I woke to some sound of something falling over. The sound seemed to come from the garage. All three cats were asleep on the bed with me (of course), and while two of them also looked up and in that direction, they didn’t get up to investigate so neither did I.
To my delight, this morning we all discovered that we had caught Momma Rat! She had flipped the trap completely upside down trying to get out, hence the sound we had all heard. All three of my cats were excited to see her in the trap this morning and I gently covered her up with a towel while I finished my morning routine so she wouldn’t get any more stressed out than necessary.
When I trap these rats, I am driving them to a park about two miles away and releasing them. The younger rat from two weeks ago leaped out of the trap into the bushes as soon as I opened the door. Momma wasn’t so eager and we sat there together for a little bit until she decided she had no choice but to leave the trap and explore her new home.
I know house rats are not pleased to suddenly become country rats. But there are plenty of trash cans and hidey holes in the park and I think they will adapt just fine. There are also foxes and hawks that may get a tasty meal. A much better death than merely becoming a trophy in my living room; more purposeful to become lunch.
How many more rats I have left, I do not yet know. The cats have caught two. I’ve caught two.
Just keep setting traps until the food stops disappearing for at least a week….then I need to recruit some helpers to clean out my garage and find their access point so a new cycle doesn’t have a chance to start.