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Saturday, December 20, 2008

The revenge of maus

Mice may be responsible for a blaze that killed nearly 100 cats at an animal shelter near the Canadian city of Toronto, officials say.

The fire at the humane society shelter in Oshawa also killed three dogs and some rats that were up for adoption.

In a daring attack, a group of mice chewed through electrical wiring that started the blaze, which quickly spread throughout the building, before rescue teams were able to respond. The mice themselves perished in the blaze, suggesting that this was a suicide attack.

Mouse leaders said that they would not allow the slain attackers to be buried at the pet cemetery. "They have violated the mouse code," said one. "By killing innocents, they have given up the right to be called mice."

Some people have claimed that the killers were not, in fact, mice, but rats. A leading news channel published audio clips of a phone interview, where the killers claimed to be rats. This was scoffed at by noted rat figures. "Its obvious that they are not rats," said a leading author and rat. "Their accent was all wrong. Everyone knows that rats use a low squeak, which is almost a grunt, while mice have a typical high-pitched squeak. They are just looking to make trouble between cats and rats."

Though the majority of the victims were cats, three dogs and some rats were also among the dead. The fact that the shelter is a preferred location for visiting dogs suggests that this was no coincidence. This would be the first time that dogs have been specifically targeted. Dog leaders were quick to condemn the act as "despicable and cowardly". However, a noted anti-terror dog, who preferred to remain anonymous, was harshly critical of the rescue operation. "We dogs have experience at this sort of thing. We offered our help, but the cats refused. I am convinced that we could have saved a few lives."

While most commentators have condemned the attack, some have raised a note of caution. One columnists pointed out that mice had suffered for years at the hands of cats. Even today, the average mouse is malnourished and unloved, while cats have prospered. In spite of this, cats see mice as outsiders, and are quick to label them traitors. As many as 200 mice died in the anti-mouse pogroms of 2002, but the perpetrators were never brought to justice. As a result, young mice, many of whom are unemployed, harbour a deep resentment towards the cat community.

Another warned that unless the problems of mice were addressed, there would be many more such attacks.