A mole new ballgame

The other day I sat on my front porch and watched the circle of life in action. It was a real “Wild Kingdom” moment, except instead of a lion devouring a zebra, the wildlife involved three of my five cats and a mole. Oh, wait, there was another difference: My cats weren’t eating the mole. Or killing it. They weren’t even playing with it.
Instead, they had surrounded it on the slate walkway and then, more or less, become zombies. One, the massive feline who used to live in our barn, might actually have fallen asleep. Another cleaned her face. And the third, after growing bored of the mole, roused herself to try to catch a nearby butterfly. She failed.
Finally the mole realized that he was surrounded by losers and could escape. And so he did. Walked right past our former barn cat and into one of the many piles of dirt that once was a yard. I’d presumed that if the cats didn’t kill the creature, eventually it would die of a heart attack. Certainly if I were an animal four or five inches long surrounded by 40 pounds of cats, I’d have a coronary. But, alas, no.
The result is that these days my yard looks like an image from the Louis Sachar novel, “Holes,” except the holes are smaller. The mounds of dirt, however, are mighty impressive. My yard feels like one big sponge underfoot; that mole clearly has friends.
That’s right I have five cats … and moles. I’m a vegetarian and so there’s a part of me that approves of my cats’ unwillingness to eat meat that is recognizable. Once, back in July, I found a dead mouse on the slate walkway. Out of intellectual curiosity I placed it in one of the cat bowls in lieu of canned cat food to see what they do. Their response? They looked at me as if I were insane and howled for their Friskies. It was as if I were asking them to eat cauliflower. (The thought did cross my mind to next put the mouse in the blender to see if my cats would eat it that way, but that idea seemed to be taking the experiment in the direction of Serial Killer. Also, I would never be able to use the blender again.)
The moles are not a new addition to the Bohjalian landscape. I’ve had them for years. Once I tried to eradicate them with a massive, battery-powered vibrating rolling pin. You stuck it in the ground, and — in theory — the vibrations convinced the moles that they were living in Los Angeles and an earthquake was brewing and it was time to get out of Dodge. But instead they just moved around my house. I stuck the device in the back yard, and they migrated to the front. I placed it in the front, and they moved to the back.
I considered getting two, but then I realized they might move to my friend Rudy’s yard, and his yard makes a golf course fairway look like the Addams Family’s front lawn. So that wouldn’t be fair. Or, the moles might head in the other direction, and take up residence in the church yard. And that wouldn’t be fair either — or smart, if you get my drift.
Consequently, I pulled the giant vibrating thing out of the ground and decided to rely on my cats to rid my small world of moles. Hah.
The next step? Maybe swap my cats with the moles. Bring the moles inside and kick the cats outdoors. You know, reacquaint them with their inner lions? Sure, once inside the moles might dig through the hardwood floors and tear holes in the carpet. But I’ve never heard of a mole that spews hairballs, pees on the computer or plays turd hockey on the tile. Our cats have done all those things — without, I should add, earning their keep by keeping the real wildlife in check.
Oh, I couldn’t really kick the cats out. But I may sit them down in front of that “Wild Kingdom” classic, “Cheetahs: Fast and Furious.”
(This column originally appeared in the Burlington Free Press on October 28, 2007.)

Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is the author of nineteen books, including his forthcoming novel, The Sleepwalker. His other novels include the New York Times bestsellers Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, The Guest Room, and The Double Bind.

3 thoughts on “A mole new ballgame

  1. Scaredy-Cats says:

    My cat is also a wimp. And all *she* had to deal with (this past August…after heavy rains) was a bug. One, lousy (extremely BIG) bug. Well, technically, *not* a bug. An *arthropod*. Which is MUCH WORSE than a mere bug. That’s right: I’m talking about a (shudder) centipede. God, how I hate them. I’m phobic about them. I can’t deal with them; I just *cannot*. Neither, apparently, can my cat. You’d think a fast moving, small (Relatively speaking!) creature scurrying across the kitchen floor (shudder) would *entrance* and *excite* a cat (who is already a mite too high-strung to begin with). You’d think that such a cat would Gleefully pounce on the dreaded arthropod with each claw fully extended in a thrilling display of catly grace and ferocity. Yes indeed, you Might think such a thing. But when it comes to *My* scaredy-cat, you would be WRONG WRONG WRONG! Completely Incorrect!!! All she did was stare at it. And then…she carefully back away from the dreaded thing as it made it’s wretched escape under the sink…(shudder). Great! (Those things live for years). I stared at my cat. I collected myself and *tried* to recover from this hideous experience of an arthropod (to be exact – class: chilopoda) sighting. And then…I sighed in dull resignation. My cat, Quite Clearly, is *just* as wimpy as I am.

  2. k. says:

    I’ll have to pass this article along to my grandfather in CT. He has some “black things” digging holes in his yard right now, and it’s seriously rattling him. Though his holes are bigger; they may be gophers.

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