Rat Poison: Benjamin the Bookstore Cat disapproves — and so do I

Benjamin the Bookstore Cat
Benjamin disapproves

About a year ago, Red Lodge Books adopted an adorable cat named Benjamin. He started his life as an alley cat, and was adopted by another business in town. When the owners retired, we agreed to take Benjamin. He has the perfect temperament for living in a bookstore (except he could use a wee bit more tolerance of the young’uns), and often runs to the front door to greet customers. Even though we leave the doors open in nice weather, he’ll never go farther outside than the nearest patch of dirt for a quick roll, and he’s back in the store.

A couple of weeks ago, Benjamin started acting lethargic and losing weight. A few days ago, the weight loss became drastic (his weight went from 8-1/2 pounds to 6-1/2 pounds) and he stopped eating. We took him to the vet. After a thorough checkup and blood tests, the results came in this afternoon: rat poison.

Oh, he didn’t ingest it directly. That would have been much more fast-acting. After a bit of CSI work, here’s how we have reconstructed what probably happened.

  1. Some clueless (or careless) person in a nearby building saw evidence of a rodent. It might have been someone in an adjoining business, or one of the people living in the apartments over our store. We’ll probably never know.
  2. This person, either because they didn’t know any better or because they didn’t care, put out rat poison.
  3. A mouse ate the rat poison. This stuff doesn’t kill rodents instantly. It can take a day or two. So the mouse scurried away.
  4. The mouse got into the bookstore. We found evidence of him a few weeks ago in the front window, where he’d been in the plant and nibbling on some pieces of the window display.
  5. Apparently, Benjamin found him, too, and a slow-moving poisoned mouse is no match for a kitty cat.
  6. Benjamin ate the mouse — and the poison that was in the mouse’s body.

Words cannot express how pissed off I am. It’s not just the extensive vet bills, or my wife’s doctor bills (she’s sporting an infected cat bite from when she was holding Benjamin while he got his shots). It’s not just that we’re having to give the poor cat pills and liquid medications. It’s that — directly or indirectly — somebody poisoned our cat.

When you put out rat poison, it’s likely that rodents will eat that poison. Although I’m sure you assume the rodents will find a quiet corner somewhere and die, those rodents may just wander away. The slow-moving rodent (or its body, if it dies before a predator finds it) becomes an easy meal for the next cat or dog that comes by. Or if you live in a rural area like this, it could be a fox, bobcat, owl, raven, hawk, lynx, ferret, skunk, or some other wild critter that eats it. And then that other animal dies a slow painful death.

If you want to get rid of rodents, either trap and relocate them or use something that kills them quickly. Don’t make someone else go through what we’ve been going through. Don’t spend your five bucks on poison so that someone else will spend five hundred on vet bills — or worse yet, have to deal with the death of their pet.

It looks like we were lucky. We got Benjamin in to the vet before there was any liver or kidney damage. We’ve got him rehydrated, we’re giving him vitamins and antibiotics, and the odds are good that he’s going to pull out of this.

But I dearly hope that the person who put out that poison reads this blog post. And I hope you feel horrible.

UPDATE: The day after I wrote this post, Benjamin died. He left a huge hole in our hearts, and every time someone walks into the store and asks where Benjamin is, it brings a huge tear to our eyes.

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