One piece at a time


The house has been smelling strange, lately.

Like animal.

Every afternoon, when the afternoon sun comes in the living room windows, the smell gets worse. I was concerned that it came from the windowsill behind the couch, where the ferrets play and what they occasionally turn into a litter box. I worried that the smell had soaked into the wood despite all the cleaning and disinfecting efforts; and that the only way to fix it would be removing the windowsill.

But Monday I was off and so I scrubbed the wood again, and pulled back the couch while I was at it, just to see what had been spilled back there.

And I stopped worrying about the windowsill.

In the space under and behind the couch there was at least 8 pens (mostly JJ’s favorite ink pens), thick clods of winter hair from the last shedding, and food.

At least two cups of the high-quality, expensive kitten food we feed them.

Ferrets are stashers, thieves. I knew that. Vesper once dragged a frying pan from the kitchen to the piano (she couldn’t get it back behind, though — we found it with the handle in the space between the piano and the wall). Alaska regularly steals shoes, cardboard, and the newspaper if she can get it still the bag. She particularly loves plastic.

We often see Jasmine leap from the desk chair to the desk, knock papers to the floors, and run off with a pen or plastic bag. Saturday she climbed back on the dining room table while we weren’t home, and besides knocking a vase of flowers onto the computer, she stole least two moveable items.

And often I’ve seen her run straight from her cage (and the foodbowl) in the office down the hall, into the living room, onto the couch and behind the cushions into the back of the wooden frame. That’s her favorite hiding spot, where she sleeps if we aren’t paying attention, and apparently where she likes to keep a secondary food supply (though most of it falls through the spaces to the floor below.)

She can only carry what fits in her mouth, though: just two or three pieces of kibble at a time.

And yet, piece by piece, she managed to stash enough to stink up the entire house and leave an enormous mess to clean up.

And while I’m irritated by the mess and by the waste — that’s a lot of expensive kibble to throw away — I can’t help but be impressed.

Never underestimate the persistence of a small, bored and energetic ferret.

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