The Mice Mystery
Actually, I cannot. He is such a noble-looking, aristocratical elderly man, the kind you'll never see in anything but thobe and ghutra, every inch a distinguished, most respectable family patriarch.
But he also is a passionated cat lover. He has seven cats - actually, he had eight cats and we had one, until a certain little lady decided to become Her Furry Majesty's best friend and move over to us. I still remember when I first came to Saudi Arabia - "Oh let me have a look at the new family member!" he called out and immediately squatted down in front of the cat kennel to have a look at Her Furry Majesty..
My husband harbors a dark childhood memory where he and one of his brothers had received a thorough beating for accidently ruining a precious rug, while all around them the cats were busy sharpening their claws at the cherished preciosities without getting anything but a fatherly 'Oh look how sweet..'. The swimming pool debate is another collective family lamento when the whole family demanded a swimming pool for the garden and my father in law refused because one of his cats might fall in and drown. There is a swimming pool now - in the cellar of their house where the cats won't go while the garden is a kitty paradise with lots of toys, climbing facilities and cosy resting places. (There are actually two gardens - ours and theirs, separated through a wall but with holes in it so the cats can use both).
The biggest family riot was about the cat safe fencing. The estate does have high walls all around but since it is located at the coast there are no high walls to the sea side. Then one day one of the cats walked away from the estate to the street and got run over by a car. My father in law ordered a cat safe fencing for each and every spot where the cats could walk out and the rest of the family went rampant because the free view on the sea was a bit impaired by the wire netting. My father in law was merciless - luckily, I might add. I remember when my husband told me that Her Furry Majesty would have a big garden to play in in Saudi and I remarked that it would have to be cat safe or else I wouldn't feel comfortable letting her out. He gave me a long look and said "My father will love you..."
And there are the mice. It is indeed mind-boggling how many mice there are, fat and healthy mice, in an otherwise perfectly sheltered garden area populated by nine (9!) cats. Sure the gardens are huge and there are lots of places and corners where mice can hide and breed but it is still amazing. Her Furry Majesty, doubtlessly the best huntress of all, usually catches an average of four to five mice every week. Her Crown Princess Lady Layla is a bit less successful, maybe three mice per week. I don't know how my father in law's cats are doing when the clumsy Persians are not the best hunters, but the Turkish Angoras are pretty talented - there is no day when my mothers in law wouldn't complain about mouse remains in the house or on their veranda. Let's say all together they catch seven or eight mice per week - with all cats put together that would be a whoppy 15 mice each week!! That would be more than 60 mice every month!!!
Maybe we just happen to live in an extremely mouse-rich area, but then I wonder how people around can possibly get along without having cats? They sure must drown in mice! When you think of it the newspapers should be full with headlines such as 'Serious mice problem in Jiddah' or maybe 'Residents call for authorities to take action aganist mice plague' or maybe 'Prince Naif vows to fight Zionist mice conspiracy' or some such.
But maybe there simply is no mice problem elsewhere because the mice are all in our garden.
The mystery remains unsolved...