The kittens were relased into the rest of the house (except the kitchen) on Sunday, instead of being confined to the lounge. By Tuesday night, Freyja had become accustomed to come and go between the lounge and kitchen via the hatch, to eat in peace and go out as she wanted. She'd started to spend more time in the lounge, though she continued to keep the kittens at paw's length and to watch them very carefully.
Early Wednesday morning, shortly before dawn, I was woken by a strange rustling/crashing sound. It didn't sound particularly threatening, but I put the lamp on and looked around, sitting up but without getting out of bed. I couldn't work out what it was, but could see nothing obviously untoward and assumed it was just Freyja attacking the laundry bin or something and that she'd scarpered as soon as the light came on.
Later, at a more reasonable hour, she was jumping insistently all over me, wanting me to get up. Assuming she was very hungry this morning after playing all night, I complied, and tottered out to loo, as usual. The bathroom bin had been knocked over, and the pack of spare loo rolls was awry. This could mean only one thing - a mouse!! I carefully shifted both items, and the few other moveable things, but there was no trace. Freyja was still dashing about agitatedly, so I asked her where it had gone. She darted to side of the wardrobe by the windows and back to me, a clear request understood by both of us ... "Please shift this piece of furniture so I can get the mouse, Mum. Pleeeeease?" I told her she'd had that, and went downstairs to start the day.
She mounted guard over the wardrobe all day (the mouse was definitely there - I checked with a torch I keep handy for just such emergencies!) I went up to comiserate with her from time to time, and the kittens dutifully followed me. Gradually, they started lingering behind longer when I went back downstairs. They discovered the large, soft expanse of my bed, and experimented with climbing the headboard and jumping across to the window sill to look out on the road - all good, exciting stuff, from a kitten's viewpoint. Determined not to lose her mouse, Freyja put up with it all with great stoicism.
When I went to bed last night, the bathroom was once more in disarray, and Freyja was lying down in the middle of it. Guessing the mouse had finally come out and been chased or carried back to the bathroom, I closed the door to trap it there. This is a game Freyja and I have played several times ... I shifted all the hide-behind stuff, and took the top off the bin so I could the box as a trap. We then chased the mouse between us round and round the small space until the poor little thing was so confused it ran right into the invitingly unthreatening gap that was really the bin. A quick flick upright, and it was caught, unharmed. I took it downstairs and let it go on the rockery, where there are lots of nooks and crannies and undergrowth to hide in.
Today, the kittens have been much more inclined to go upstairs without me and have spent protracted periods up there, with Freyja. No-one seems to have come to any harm, and when Freyja's come downstairs, the babies have trailed her side-by-side like a pair of mini body-guards! Quite what Freyja feels about this I can't tell, but she did creep down alone this evening and hide under her blanket next to me on the settee, a favourite spot. The kittens arrived a short time later, and Artemis automatically jumped up on that side. I tried to stop her, but was unsuccessful - Freyja shot out, hissed loudly, and clobbered Artemis good, so the kitten cowered and backed off before running away!
All-in-all, I think the hidden mouse was a good thing, in that it stopped Freyja automatically going off in a huff as soon as the youngsters appeared on the scene. They're certainly all learning to live with each other, and I get the feeling the little ones are starting to really see Aunty Freyja as Alpha Cat! Depending on the weather, I may introduce the garden into the range at the weekend.