Well, they had some help from Mike, but the kitties finally "made a kill" this morning. They started chasing the mouse around our bedroom around 3 AM. At some point, I locked them out of the bedroom for jumping all over me in the bed, but I let them in again around 5, and when I started getting ready around 5:30, they were hunting again. Actually, they were falling over each other to get this mouse cornered. Under the dresser, under the standing mirror, under my nightstand, around the trunk, into the bathroom (yes, the mouse actually ran directly at my feet) where I was.
Maury had it cornered in the bathroom, behind the litter box, but then he lost it. So I pulled out the litter box, the box of used litter, the container of fresh litter. Still, he couldn't see it. So I kept both eyes on the mouse and called to Maury as he wandered in and out of the bathroom and bedroom, looking for the thing that was right in front of me.
Finally, he saw it, and chased it into the bedroom, behind my nightstand, under the bed, to Mike's closet, back under the bed, and back by the hamper. At some point in this chase, Mike got involved, trying to help. (Well, it was better than on Christmas morning, when our help just ended up in a mouse getting away...but let's face it...who wants to start Christmas with a death in the house, even if it is death of a mouse?) George is still sitting by my dresser, looking at the trunk, like he's trying to say, "Guys, I have it! I know it's here! Come back and help!" (The mouse is still by the hamper, I'd like to remind you.) Now I'm getting dressed, trying to watch this and dress at the same time so I can jump out of the way if the mouse starts diving at my now-bare feet. (Mike is exclaiming that the cats have the mouse worn out. Of course, I say, it ran right TOWARD me to get away from the cats. Not a wise move, nor one that a field mouse at the height of its energy and thinking abilities would make.)
Maury can't see the mouse, apparently, and is wondering off, looking for it yet again, but Mike moves the hamper, and George moves faster than Mike has ever seen him move (other than running to you when he thinks he's getting soft food, tuna, or dead cooked pig). So now George is monopolizing the chase, and how! This cat knows how to catch. He's chasing it just as fast as Maury was earlier, but under a suitcase and then (after I moved the suitcase), under my fuzzy red slippers and into a pile of belts or straps of some sort that has fallen off of one of the unpacked boxes, and back between my slippers. (Seriously, I've got to start hanging my shoes up, as much as the mice like to hide under and around them.)
Mike pounds on the slipper really hard and then lifts it (the mouse is a little dazed, but still alive). George picks it up, holding it high in his mouth, and PRANCES out of the bedroom and down the hall. But he drops it, and it runs back down the hall toward the bedroom. It stops right in front of Maury and rolls over on its side, popping its feet up in the air, playing dead. (Very smart mouse, because now the cats just stare at it, like, "Hey! The toy stopped working!" I tell Mike to finish the mouse off, because it has now started to twitch, and it's most likely in some pain, having gone through the earlier crushing. So he does, and then he lets it lie there for a bit while he goes to get some toilet paper to pick it up with.
"Isn't it ironic that the cat with no claws is the better hunter?" Mike asks. But George is older and has more experience and has always shown more of the down-and-dirty potential in his playing with toys. Maury just likes to chase things and often loses interest after catching them, but George loves beating the crap out of them and then picking them up and throwing them to a new place so he can pick them up and beat the crap out of them again.
The cats sit in the hall, staring at the mouse's prone figure, and then, next thing we know, George has eased up and sniffed the mouse. Then he picks it up and runs into the living room with it, Maury following closely. Then follows the ritual of George holding his "kill" and standing very still to warn Maury off. (I have pictures of this intricate dance.) And then, realizing that Maury is not going to steal credit for his kill, George drops the mouse. And then proceeds to pick it up and fling it through the air like he does his stuffed "puppy-mouse," apparently missing the point completely that the mouse is supposed to be ALIVE when he does all of this. We watch this for a bit, as George drops and throws the mouse a few more times. We giggle a little, more at George's delight than at the treatment of the mouse's body. Finally, he flings it, and it lands on the storage chest coffee table. Now the cats look everywhere for it but can't see it. So they stare at the storage chest. Mike is giggling maniacally and giving the mice catnip as a reward. They keep eating their nip and then stopping to stare at the storage chest, then going back to their nip, and so on. So I tell Mike to hurry up and get rid of the mouse's body before the cats figure out where it is. We know that George likes to devour his toy mice tail-first, and I really don't want to find that puked up somewhere when I get home tonight. And nothing like finding mouse intestines strewn about the house, Mike points out.
So the kitties were rewarded with a lot of catnip, and although they didn't technically make the kill, they got much further this time than ever before. Who knows, by spring, maybe they will have made a kill all on their own.
Then, next fall, we'll have to start the learning curve all over again...