Friday, August 20, 2010

The Mystery of the Body in My Crawlspace

Tonight I went into the crawlspace under our house to see if I can figure out how the mice are getting into the cupboard under our kitchen sink. While I was down there, I was greeted with this grisly visage:

Before discovering this skull, I found some bones that were too big for rodents (at least I'd hope so). I assumed they were chicken bones that some mouse had dragged in. From a distance and from a different angle, this skull looked like a wadded up sack from a fast food restaurant. As I approached I could read that the sack was Purina Dog Chow bag that had mostly rotted away and revealed the remains of this critter inside.

It's hard to tell from this picture, but the skull is about the size of a human fist. I guessed it was a cat skull (despite the dog food bag) and a search for "cat skull" on Google Images seems to confirm this:

How did it get there? I first considered the possibility that the cat got trapped under there and died. There was no entry point big enough for a cat, but perhaps while workers were installing the water heater or remodeling the bathroom, a cat sneaked in while no one was paying attention.

But how to explain the dog food bag? I saw that mice were able to drag some small bits of trash down (I found a bottle cap, a bit of tinfoil, and a sprung snap trap), but it didn't seem feasible for a mouse to drag something as big as that dog food bag through any of the tiny holes I found.

It seems more likely that the cat died, and his body was placed in a dog food bag for disposal. But did somebody think it was a good idea to dispose of it in the crawlspace? It must have smelled horrible for awhile. Perhaps it was left in the trash or elsewhere initially and some other critter (or human prankster) moved it to the crawlspace.

Whatever happened must have happened a long time ago judging from the decay and the fact that neither we nor the prior owners owned a dog. Since then, there has been work done that required going under the house (the kitchen and bathroom were remodeled and the water heater was replaced), so it's surprising that this wasn't found earlier.

I left it where I found it; I didn't want to touch it. When I go back to plug the mouse entry hole, I'll bring rubber gloves and a trash sack and clean it up then.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Meet Henri

His name is Henri. It's spelled the French way, but it's pronounced the good old American way. Of course you could call him On-Ree like it's spelled, or Hank, or Hey You, and he'll respond (or not) if he feels like it, because that's how cats are.

I'm told his full name is Henri T. Cat. I don't know what the T. stands for, but I bet it stands for The. I've never seen his full name spelled out, so maybe the last name is spelled Katt or Kat or Caedt or something, but unless I'm corrected by someone who knows better I'll just spell it Henri Th. Cat (I've opted to use the Th. abbreviation because the Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer abbreviated his middle name that way and I think he's cool).

It's been 10 years since I last had a feline roommate (aw... Chip!), and we weren't planning on taking in another one until after Chris finishes school and we were more settled, but Henri's oldest friend Arwen got married recently and moved to Australia, and the logistics of Henri going to Australia with her were prohibitively onerous, so Henri was looking for new roommates.

He's completely black - even his whiskers. He's so black that when he's rolled up on his back or contorting his body during grooming, it's hard to tell where his head is; it's like a Rorschach ink blot.

He's six years old (I don't know his actual birth date... Arwen?), and like all kids today, he's got his own facebook page. When I was a kid, we had to keep in touch with friends and family using old fashioned blogs, and we liked it!