Oh dear, I've left my blog unattended for almost a month with a rat marauding around the kitchen. Well, the rat is no more. We bought an old fashioned spring trap and after ten days of moving it around and trying different baits, the rat succumbed to the temptation of flaked almonds perched tantalizingly close to the edge of the bait tray. It was a swift end. We've heard nothing since, and no food has been taken from the kitchen counters, so we're pretty sure that rat didn't have a family. Step 2 is to discourage further marauding by* getting another cat :-)
Allow me to present George:
He hadn't been outdoors before moving here, so it's taking a bit of getting used to. I think he's getting the hang of it, though he's not really relaxed out there, yet.
We spent ages thinking about names for him. The lady looking after him for the Cats' Protection League had called him Frodo, but we didn't think that suited him, as the hobbit was a dutiful, stoical sort of character, and the cat shows no sign of being either of those things. We nearly settled on 'Du' (Welsh for black, pronounced 'Dee') but it's just too short. I'm not sure where George came from, but it's the first name we thought of that we're both happy with.
He arrived yesterday, and has spent a lot of time exploring, checking things out, and falling off things that are too slippery for a large black cat to land safely on (e.g. edge of the kitchen sink).
He's met the neighbours, both feline and human, and was surprisingly friendly towards the latter. In fact, I'm generally surprised by how friendly he is towards us, though it takes him a few moments to recognize me if I've gone out of sight and reappear. Hopefully he'll remember who I am before too long.---
* Also by moving the compost heap further away from the house. I won't change what I put on the heap because by the time you've excluded everything that might be tempting to a rat, you hardly anything left to make compost from, and you also have the problem of storing rotting food waste in the house until it's time to send it to landfill.