Title: A Catís Tale
Revision: 1.1, 4/15/2017
Summary: A frightened young cat runs away from danger but fate returns it to the path of destiny.
Category: The Untold Story
Length: 12 pages
The cat was not quite two years old. It wasnít much older than the baby that had intruded into the nice quiet home the cat had adopted. The cat liked the woman in its home. She was attentive and nice. The cat sensed affection from the woman and returned it. The man in its home was indifferent. But the baby was more intolerable every day.
The cat liked peace and quiet, but after the baby showed up, there was nothing but noise and activity that only abated when they had all mercifully gone to sleep. But even the night was usually interrupted by the babyís crying. Even the mice would hide then, which spoiled everything.
The worst thing of all was the small broomstick the baby had been given after it had learned to crawl. The baby raced around on it so fast that the cat had difficulty getting out of the way. One time, the cat was knocked over and sent headlong into a potted house plant. It was terrifying. After that, whenever the baby was racing about, the cat would cower under the furniture.
The cat had thought about finding a new home, but the woman remained nice and never forgot to feed it -- even with nearly all her attention focused on the baby. So the cat stayed.
The man and woman had many friends who would visit, even more so after the baby arrived. The cat generally stayed out of sight, except when the very old woman who lived nearby would visit. She always brought a treat for the cat so the cat would appear for her and rub up against her legs. When the cat was outside, it would visit the old womanís house and see if she were in her garden and then beg for a treat. In return for the treats, the cat would hunt for garden pests.
There was one visitor the cat did not like. It was a small man who didnít smell right. The cat hated his smell. The first time the cat had met the man, it had hissed at him and been shooed off by the nice woman. After that, the cat stayed out of sight whenever the wrong smelling man was there.
Now, still cowering under the bush, the cat remembered having just smelled the man moments before in the front garden of its home. It was the same wrong man smell, but now worse -- mixed with rat pee. That was new, but it wasnít even a true rat pee smell, it was different, like strange rat pee on the wrong smelling man. Disgusting! The cat wanted to attack whatever it was.
But the cat didnít move. It was afraid. Something bad had just happened. There had been loud noises and shouting. A stranger had entered the house and killed the man. The cat had intended to follow the nice woman carrying the baby upstairs but had been blocked by the man in the hall as he was facing the stranger.
There had been a flash of green light and the man had fallen. The stranger had looked at the cat and the cat had seen a snakelike face with evil red eyes. The cat thought the stranger must be a daemon and it froze in fear. The stranger turned and walked past the cat toward the stairs, stepping over the man. The cat, seeing the open front door, made a mad dash for it. It raced out, down the path, through the front gate and across the street to hide under the bush, where it still cowered.
The cat heard the nice woman shouting and then screaming. Moments later there was a tremendous noise and a large portion of the roof of its home flew in pieces in all directions. Dogs began barking in the nearby houses and yards. Some people turned on their lights and looked out windows or came outside and looked around, but soon went back inside. Only the old woman, who always gave the cat treats, came all the way to the gate of the catís home.
The cat was still frightened and remained hidden under the bush. The old woman stood outside the gate for some time. Then, without warning, a tall old man with long hair and beard suddenly appeared beside her. The cat had seen the tall man before when he visited the man and woman in its home. The two people went through the gate together and into its home. The cat could hear them talking. Then the old woman came out and stood by the gait again.
After some more time, an enormous man walked out of the darkness and stood beside the old woman. The cat had seen him before too. He always smelled of many strange animals, but the cat had learned he did not like cats. He always sneezed whenever the cat got near him and shooed it off. The old woman sent the big man into the house.
Sometime later, the old man came out. The old man and woman talked for a while by the gate. He waved a stick at the house a few times and then the old man disappeared.
The old woman turned to leave and then stopped. She was staring at the bush across the street. The cat sensed that the woman was looking at it and its fear diminished enough to let out a small meow. The old woman smiled and beckoned to the cat.
The cat, sensing protection, eagerly left its hiding place and ran to the old woman, jumping up into her beckoning arms. The old woman turned and began walking back to her house speaking soothingly to the cat. The cat looked back across the old womanís arm and could see its home growing smaller, knowing instinctively, that everything it had known was gone.
The cat would never approach its former home again.
Then one morning, the old woman again forgot to let the cat in. The cat patiently waited as usual at the back door. But this day, the old woman never came out to tend her garden as she eventually always did. Another night passed. The cat had to hunt for food rather than for entertainment.
The next morning, the old woman again did not come out and not so the whole day. The cat desperately tried caterwauling and jumping onto various window sills and pawing at the window panes to get the old womanís attention. The cat could sometimes see the old woman moving around inside its home but could not get her attention. The cat tried this for several days to no avail and concluded the old woman no longer wanted it. So the cat moved on.
For some weeks, the cat tried to adopt several families in the village, but none seemed interested. Homes with dogs could be dangerous and there were many. So the cat was forced to hunt to survive. It was not particularly good at full time survival hunting at first, having enjoyed the beneficence of humans for so long. But with practice and time, the cat became proficient and the village mouse and rat population had something else to fear.
One night while chasing a particularly challenging rat, a large noisy vehicle appeared suddenly in the roadway directly in their path and stopped. As the door opened and a woman got out, the terrified rat jumped through the open door and dashed past a startled man and up a curving flight of stairs. The cat followed the rat without hesitation, brushing the manís leg as it went past him.
The cat could hear the man shouting and some passengers screaming as the cat pursued the rat under the seats and in and around the feet of the people in the vehicle. The cat felt the vehicle lurch and its continuing jostling made it difficult for the cat to corner the rat. But it finally did after following it up yet another stairway and pouncing on it as it tried to double back around a large box at the far end. The cat heard the sound of praise from a large woman whose feet had been lifted high off the floor and were now resting on the box.
The man whose legs the cat had brushed while jumping onto the vehicle had followed predator and prey and now tried to pick up the cat. But the cat was hungry and it did not want to risk losing its only meal of the day -- especially a big fat juicy one. So it scampered away from the man and dashed down the two sets of stairs. As it reached the bottom landing, the vehicle lurched to a halt and the door opened again. The cat leapt off the vehicle still carrying the rat in its mouth. It turned and ran under the vehicle and then paused. From there it was able to see the entrance to a small nearby alley. The cat raced out from under the bus and into the alley where it soon found a hiding place behind a large bin.
The cat dropped the rat and took a few moments to catch its breath. Then it settled down and enjoyed its meal. After a very pleasurable cleaning and grooming session, the cat explored the alley. There were abundant signs of rats, many more than in the old village. As the cat was beginning to think this situation could work out, it was suddenly confronted by a very large and battle-scarred tom cat. This alley was its territory and the intruding cat was chased out and into the street.
Then it began to rain.
There were many people in the room sitting at tables and talking. The room was smoky and dimly lit by candles. The cat was wet but it was much warmer here than outside. There was an inviting fire blazing in the fireplace across the room and a well worn hearthrug before it. The cat wanted to curl up and sleep on it, close by fire, but that desire was overridden by its foremost desire not to be seen. So the cat waited.
After a long time, all the people had gone except one. It was a hairless old man who was bent over and didnít appear to have any teeth. Finally he put out all the candles by waiving a stick and then went upstairs. He had left the fire going and the cat immediately moved to curl up in front of it on the hearth rug. The cat was now properly warm and had a full stomach. It thought the day had ended rather well and wondered if this would be its new home.
The cat slept soundly and heard the footfalls too late. As it instinctively leapt up and began to run, the cat felt its whole body go rigid and it fell on its side. Then it saw the toothless old man standing over it talking while shaking his head. The cat was terrified. It didnít know what was happening. No matter how hard it tried, the cat could not move a muscle.
The cat felt the old man pick it up. Its eyes were wide with fear, but the man was talking soothingly while he walked. The cat could only see the crook of the manís arm but it was obvious he had carried the cat outdoors, but the noises and smells were now very different from the alley of the night before. After a short time, the man went through another door. A bell sounded. The cat sensed many other animals, including rats -- a lot of delicious rats -- inside the room. The place was a riot of animal noises. It heard chittering, squeaking, the rustle of wings, the croaking of toads, and many of other prey sounds. It also heard other cats. The catís senses were on high alert.
The cat was anxious to assess the hunting opportunities, as well as the competition, but it still could not move. Then it heard another human enter the room and the old man and the other person began talking. They didnít talk long. The old man placed the cat on a wooden counter. The cat was on its side and could now see the other person. It was a woman. She had small windows in front of her eyes like the cat had seen on some other humans. The man in her first home had them.
The woman placed her hands on the cat and a moment later it heard the man speak and it was instantly able to move again. The woman must have known because she had pinned the cat down before the cat could react. But the woman did not hurt it as it had feared. Instead, she felt the cat all over with purposeful and knowing hands while talking soothingly. Although the cat had initially tensed and waited for an opportunity to escape, it soon began to relax. Finally the woman gently checked the catís ears, eyes and teeth and then began petting it, though still keeping one hand firmly on the catís back holding it down on the counter.
The woman and man spoke some more and then, without warning the woman picked up the cat and pushed it toward the door of a large wooden cage the man was suddenly holding. The cat desperately tried to stop itself from going in by hissing and clawing, but it was too late. With one firm push from the woman, the cat was inside. By the time it had spun around, the door was closed. The cat growled in anger and cowered in the back of the cage, which the old man set onto the counter.
The old man and woman talked some more and then the man left through the door. The bell rang again. The woman bent down and talked to the cat once more. The cat was trapped. It was angry. The woman walked away. As soon as she was out of sight, the cat tested the door to the cage. It would not open no matter how hard the cat worked at it.
Then the woman returned and dropped a clump of delicious smelling food through an opening in the cage. It looked and smelled like clawed up bird meat. The meat also had a slightly funny, but not objectionable non-bird smell. The cat didnít pause more than a second before gobbling up the meat. It looked up at the woman wanting more. And there was more. Two more times, the woman dropped clumps of the delicious bird meat into the cage.
The cat began to feel warm and relaxed. The woman picked up and moved the cage to a wooden shelf behind the counter. There were many other cages on the shelf and many other shelves in the room. Before it dozed off, the cat could see many of the other animals it had smelled when it entered the shop. They were all looking at the new arrival. But the cat was not interested now; it would check them out later. Now it was feeling full, safe, and wanted nothing more than sleep.
The cat curled up on the soft cushion it had not previously noticed in the cage and dreamed of a new home.
The cat reentered its cage to eat and drink. The cage door shut behind it. The cat jumped a little with surprise, but then began to eat. Later, shortly after it had finished eating and drinking, the two bowls disappeared and the woman came in and carried the cage back to its place on the shelf.
Now the cat began checking out its surroundings. There were dozens of animals, mostly prey, in various cages. Birds were in cages hung from the ceiling. Toads were in boxes with dirt on the floor. Rats were in metal cages on the far end of the counter. Rabbits shared a large pen in one corner. There were several other cats in cages like its own on the same shelf. The cat could smell them and hear them. But there were cloths hung between the cages so it couldnít see them. It only saw them when the woman carried its or their cages to and from the elimination room. Even from these glimpses, the cat did not fear any potential competition from the other cats. They were too tame.
After a while, the catís food and water bowls appeared and disappeared in its cage while on the shelf and no longer in the elimination room. It now used the time there to stretch and sharpen its claws on the rough wooden door. Sometimes the cat chased its tail. The cat had learned it had to return to the cage to be fed.
Unlike the other cats, it didnít complain. It was always quiet, while the other cats were constantly meowing and seeking attention. The woman started regularly talking to the cat and petting it through the cage openings.
In the beginning, the cat would have escaped if it could. It didnít like being kept in a cage. But soon the cat accepted the place as its new home because the food was the best it had ever had. Even if the food never included live prey -- live prey was usually both fun and tasty -- it was never hungry. The cat hated being hungry more than just about anything.
During the day, may people of all descriptions came and went, often with their young ones. The bell always rang when the door opened and all the animals would become alert when it sounded. This was because the people would often take one of the animals away with them, sometimes with the cage and sometimes without. The woman would always bring in new animals and cages to take their place.
One day, after the season of snow had come and gone, the woman did not close the door to the catís cage after it had used the elimination room. The cat did not leave the cage when it was put back on its shelf -- even though the cage door remained open. The cat merely stuck its head out of the cage door for a better view. After that day, the cage door always remained open.
If the cage door had been opened sooner, the cat might have gone after the other animals, especially the rats. However, the cat had learned the rats were pathetic and stupid. They would have been no challenge. And when you were as well fed as the cat was, there was no point if there was not going to be any fun. The birds were simply too high and well protected in their cages. The rabbits were interesting, but were quite large and had strength in numbers. They would be difficult prey, assuming the cat could open their substantial pen. The cat knew from experience that toads tasted bad -- it would have to be starving to eat one. There were other ďlast resortĒ prey animals as well, including newts, snails, tortoises (and others it had never seen before) in various containers. The cat had no interest in any of them.
Soon after the cats cage door was left open, the woman did not pick up the cage to carry the cat to the elimination room. Instead it took the cat from its cage and carried it to the room. The cat was left alone as usual. It did its business and exercised a bit and then moved to where the cage would have been and sat down, waiting for what would happen next.
The door opened and the woman stood there talking to the cat. The cat looked at the woman. The woman beckoned to the cat. Without thinking, the cat got up and walked past the woman out the door. Then it proceeded to walk back to the room with all the shelves and jumped up to the shelf with its cage and got in. Its food and water bowls appeared as usual. Everything was fine. This became the new normal. The next day, the cat heard the woman calling it from the back of its home.
The cat stuck its head out of the cage door and looked toward the woman who was standing at the end of the hall. She called and beckoned again. This time the cat jumped out of its cage onto the shelf and then onto the floor. It trotted back to stand in front of the woman. The woman talked to the cat and then opened the door to the elimination room. The cat went in, but this time the woman did not close the door. The cat used the facilities and then stood as usual in the middle of the floor, but the woman did not come back to the room. The cat could hear her doing something by the counter in the other room.
After a few minutes, the cat moved and looked out the door. The woman did not pay any attention. So the cat walked down the hall and returned to it cage. From that day on, the cat went to the elimination room whenever it wanted; as long as the door was open. When it was closed, it meant another cat was inside.
Then one day, on returning from the elimination room, the cat did not return to its cage. Instead it walked up behind the woman and rubbed against her leg. The woman talked to the cat then bent down and picked it up. Instead of putting it back in its cage, the woman put it on the counter next to the cage of rats. The woman opened the door to the cage. The rats squealed and cowered in the cage. The cat showed no interest and simply lay down. The woman scratched it behind the ear and it purred.
From that day on, the cat had the run of the place. It had ascended to and accepted its role -- overload of its home.
On a day with many visitors, which was typical near the end of summer, the cat was sitting on top of its cage now located on the highest shelf behind the counter. This kept visitors, usually the young ones, from trying to pet it. The cat generally did not like strangers.
The outside door opened and the bell rang. Three young people came in. Two were male; one was female and had unusually bushy hair. It made her took top heavy. Ordinarily the cat would have condescended to a brief glance and then resume its cat nap. But something was different and the cat stared at the group.
First it noticed that the smaller male seemed vaguely familiar, but then it was distracted by the taller male. The cat smelled something coming from it which it had not smelled for a very, very long time. It was faint, but it was the smell of strange rat pee it had once smelled along with the smell of the wrong smelling man that had sometimes visited the catís first home. The cat still hated the wrong smelling man. But something was wrong. This was not the same person. Two people never had the same smell. The tall male was now talking to the woman behind the counter. The cat had its complete focus on him.
The tall visitor reached into his clothes and pulled out a large mangy-looking rat and placed it on the counter. The strange-rat-wrong-man smell exploded into the room. The cat was confused. He was looking at rat but smelling the small wrong smelling man and the strange rat pee of years before.
This was no ordinary ratÖ It was a daemon rat!
Instantly enraged, the cat launched itself off the cage toward the counter below, hissing and spitting. The woman was in the way so it landed on the tall visitorís head and rebounded toward the daemon rat, which was now being held on the countertop by the woman.
Unfortunately, the cat was now much older and not as quick as it once was. Plus the tall visitor interfered with the catís attack. The daemon rat itself was surprisingly fast. It seemed to squirt out of the womanís hands. It jumped to the floor and raced through the gap at the bottom of the outside door before the cat could catch it. The female visitor grabbed the cat as it scrabbled at the door, desperately reaching under the gap with its front paws and still hissing. The two male visitors quickly stepped past the female visitor, opened the door and ran out. The bell rang.
The room was in an uproar. The animals were all making a racket and jumping around in their cages. The woman was running around trying to calm them down. The only one who seemed to be in control was the young bushy haired female. She seemed to sense the distress in the cat and was talking to it soothingly and rocking it in her arms. She would not let it go even though the cat tried to break away. After a minute or two, the cat relaxed and then began to purr.
The woman had managed to restore calm to the room. She and the young visitor began talking. All the while, the visitor continued to hold and pet the cat. After a while, the visitor gave the woman a handful of some small metal disks. The woman handed the visitor a small red bottle. The woman then came from behind the counter and bent low so her face was close to catís face. She spoke soothingly and petted the cat, which was still held tightly in the young visitorís arms. Then the woman stood up strait and talked to the visitor again while opening the outside door. The bell rang. The visitor walked out into the sunlight holding the cat.
The woman in the shop had been very nice, but in this bushy haired young female, the cat sensed the same affection it had only known once before -- so very long ago.
The cat was quite content and looked forward to seeing its new home. It hoped there was no bell. It didnít like bells.