Tag Archives: cat

1948. That was a close call

There was nothing particularly singular about Janice and Branwell. They lived in a suburb. They had a cat and a dog. The grandchildren would visit quite often.

Usually they took turns in walking the dog, although Branwell had the task of feeding it. Janice was in charge of feeding the cat.

One sunny afternoon the cat was particularly vocal which usually meant she wanted some milk. Janice poured milk into a saucer and placed it on the kitchen floor next to the oven. The dog barged in, which he usually didn’t do, pushed the cat aside and lapped up the cat’s milk. Janice shooed them both outside.

A few minutes later Branwell appeared in the kitchen.

“I just heard the strangest thing,” he said. “I heard it as clear as a bell. The cat spoke to the dog. She said, ‘You shouldn’t do that. You know it’s my milk’.” The dog responded by saying, “Your English gets better by the day.”

“You’re hearing things,” said Janice. The cat’s been complaining all morning.”

“It was perfectly articulated,” said Branwell, “but, yes, I guess I was hearing things.”

“Exactly right,” said Janice.

The cat and the dog sat outside in the shade. “That was a close call,” they said one to the other – but in French.

1924. Only one miracle allowed

Nina-Marie had recently died and was thoroughly enjoying looking down from above at her loved ones. There was her husband Clive, her cat Maisie, and her dog Wolfgang. They certainly missed her.

During life it had always been Nina-Marie who looked after the pets. It’s not that Clive wasn’t interested or didn’t like them; it was just that the task had fallen to Nina-Marie almost accidentally years ago. Nina-Marie fed the cat and dog; Clive brought in and stacked the firewood. They were the two marriage-allotted chores that occurred most days in early evening.

In her last hours Nina-Marie had said to Clive that if she was permitted, if it was at all possible, she would give some sign that she was doing well in eternity. It would be some little thing; some surprise perhaps; something that Clive would recognize.

Upon arrival in Heaven Nina-Marie was informed that she would be granted one request regarding life on Earth; one prayer to answer. Wistfully she gazed upon her earthly family. She didn’t want to waste the single wish she could grant.

I know exactly what it will be, thought Nina-Marie. The little apple tree, the one we planted several years ago, has never borne fruit. This year it shall have fruit. Not too many apples, that would be wasteful, but just enough for Clive to say “Aha! That’s Nina-Marie’s doing!”

Nina-Marie was about to make arrangements for her “miracle”, when she noticed something; something serious. The cat and dog’s water bowls had dried up. Clive hadn’t given them water since the funeral. It was an oversight. This was an emergency. I wish he’d give them water! Give them water!

Goodness, thought Clive almost instantaneously, they’ve run out of water. And that was Nina-Marie’s one miracle all used up.

1835. Don’t overfeed pets

When Natalie came home from school she overheard her mother say to her little brother, “You’re not to do that again. It was very naughty.”

“But the cat was hungry.”

“I told you not to feed the cat between meals. It will get fat. So feed the cat only in the mornings and in the evenings. I’ve enough to do without having to run around covering up for your naughtiness.”

Later Natalie asked her mother what was wrong with feeding the cat, and her mother said that it was wrong to overfeed pets. “You should know that because of your goldfish. You can feed them too much and they overeat and die.”

For the rest of the day Natalie noticed that her little brother was pouting. He never liked being told off, and Natalie made it worse by reinforcing what their mother had said, and told him that “he shouldn’t overfeed his cat. You are a very naughty boy” – which made her little brother pout even more.

Later, when Natalie went to feed her goldfish it almost looked the same but she was pretty sure it was a different fish.

1806. Alleluia! the cat

Christina and Florrie lived in the same house and shared a pet cat. They called their cat “Alleluia!” because it brought such joy. The exclamation mark in the Alleluia! is an important part of the name, Florrie told the vet. Our cat is not simply “Alleluia” but “Alleluia!”

There were many other things that Christina and Florrie shared besides the cat. They shared cooking and meals, for example, and cleaning the house. They shared a glass of wine before the evening meal. They shared the rent. They had shared like this for thirty-two years. It was not only companionship; it saved money. How much cheaper it is to heat a single house rather than two.

Every day the cat would curl up at wine-time on the mat between Florrie and Christina’s armchairs. It was part of the daily ritual. Alleluia! was now seventeen years old, as far as they knew. It had adopted Florrie and Christiana. They had no idea where it came from. They advertised with photographs but no one came forward. Alleluia! was there to stay.

And then, very suddenly, just as they were one evening pouring a wine, Christina had a stroke and died. Florrie had to make all the arrangements for Christiana’s funeral, while she herself was devastated. Admittedly it gave something for Florrie to do, something to occupy her mind, but she never imagined that such feelings of grief were possible.

When all was over, Florrie still had Alleluia! It was a connection, a support. The cat was a living link. In fact, Alleluia! had taken over Christiana’s armchair in the evenings. It might sound silly, but Alleluia! was always there for Florrie to talk to.

And then Alleluia! took ill and Florrie had to have it put down.

Poem 93: Yet another poem about a dead cat

My cat woke me at four each morning.
She would jump on the bed and claw the pillow
right next to my eyes.
I would wake, fearful for my sight.
Would I never again see the day slip over the hill?
Would I never again see the moon slip over the hill
or the barley field wave in the wind?
Perhaps by patting the cat I could doze a little longer.
Bloody cat.

Fourteen years ago,
on a night I could not sleep,
I rose from bed at four and fed the cat.
Breakfast at four became her rite, her right.
Bloody cat.

Last year she was sick.
The veterinarian said
“That’ll be one hundred and thirty dollars please.”
I gave up wine and stuff for a month to pay for it.
That bloody cat was more of a nuisance than I ever imagined.

Last week she died.
If she came back I’d let her scratch out my eyes.

1658. Feral Coal

(Thanks to Chris for giving the opening sentence).

Secretly, they had known all along that the cat could never have been tamed. It was a feral cat. It lived in the woodshed and had little tunnels so it could hide safely in the depths of the haphazard pile of firewood.

And then it had kittens; six in all. After a few weeks they would venture out into the sunshine to play. Little Lottie, who was seven years old, would take a saucer of milk and leave it on the concrete path leading to the woodshed. The kittens would form a circle around the saucer and lap up the milk.

The prettiest kitten was a black one with a little white bib and a little white paw. Lottie called it Coal. She wanted to catch it and keep it as a pet. Her father helped her make a drop trap. They set up a small cage held upside down with a stick tied to a string. When the black kitten went beneath the cage, they would pull the string and the cage would fall down entrapping the kitten. And they caught it! Coal was caught!

There was no way Lottie or her father could reach into the cage to pick up the kitten. Even at that young age the kitten would have scratched the threatening hand. They had to let the snarling kitten go. It would be forever wild.

Later that week a man came and caught all six kittens and their mother in a cage. He took them away. For Christmas that year Lottie got a kitten. It was black with a little white bib and a little white paw. It wasn’t quite the same but it almost was. It was a girl, so Lottie didn’t call it Coal; she called it Coalette instead.

1646. Gail’s pets

Gail loved animals, which is why she had so many pets. She had a cat and a dog, a canary and a cockatoo, a couple of ducks, a rabbit and a guinea pig and three mice. They would all run around together, except for the canary of course. The canary couldn’t run around but Gail often let it fly freely around the house provided the windows and doors were shut. And could it sing? My word! What a diva on a sunny day!

Then one day she couldn’t hear it singing. Had it perhaps escaped? Gail checked the windows and doors. Everything was closed, but it must have found an escape route somewhere. Gail opened the house up and left the canary’s cage door wide. Hopefully it would fly back.

It was quite a while after – Gail wasn’t exactly the best of housekeepers – when she was vacuuming under the dining room table that she noticed a few yellow tail feathers and a bird’s clawed foot.

By the end of the year the dog had got the ducks, and the cat had got the cockatoo, the rabbit, the guinea pig, and the three mice.

Gail still loved animals, and continued to pamper her cat and her dog. She replaced her deceased pets with a budgerigar and a cockatiel, a couple of chickens, a hamster and a rat and three gerbils.

These days Gail has a cat and a dog, and has taken up origami as an interest.

1613. A cat called Mopsie

You see that back door? It’s got a hole in it for a cat door. That was for Old Nanny Higginbotham’s cat. As you can see, she doesn’t live there anymore – Old Nanny Higginbotham – she moved out when the house half burned down and was bulldozed except for the kitchen and backdoor. I have no idea why they didn’t finish the job.

The cat’s dead, one suspects.

No one can remember when and why they started calling her Old Nanny Higginbotham. It began maybe fifty years ago when she was neither old nor a grandmother. She must be well into her eighties now. She called her cat Mopsie.

Mopsie was a tabby cat. It seems like it was always part of Old Nanny Higginbotham’s life although cats don’t live that long; fifteen years or so if you’re lucky. That cat was the only friend the old lady had. She seemed to have no family. Neighbours regarded her as cold and aloof. She wasn’t born for friendship that’s for sure; unless you’re thinking of her Mopsie. Mopsie certainly was her life.

The old lady milked a few goats. That might be why she was called Nanny. Even in her eighties she was out there milking her little herd. The goats were taken away after the fire, and Old Nanny Higginbotham was put into a retirement village. She didn’t want to leave her goats and farm of course, but the government welfare agency insisted. The retirement village wouldn’t let her bring the cat.

One afternoon (it was quite against the retirement village’s rules and regulations) Old Nanny Higginbotham took a taxi to her old bulldozed house. She called over and over: “Here kitty kitty kitty! Here pussy cat! Mopsie! Mopsie!” There was no answer. She put some cat food next to where the cat door had been. “Here kitty kitty kitty! Mopsie! Mopsie!”

Hours later, when it was dark, they found her still sitting on the backdoor step. Crying.

1600. Stream lines

Recently – like a month or so ago – I got a message of congratulations from WordPress on this blog’s 6th anniversary. It’s actually been going a couple of years longer because I suffered a bout of scruples, deleted the first few years, and started again. Be all that as it may, this is Story 1600. At first I intended to write 100 stories, then 365 (one a day), then 555 stories (the number of keyboard sonatas written by Dominico Scarlatti), then 1001 (in honour of the Arabian Nights), and then 1500, and now 1600… and what the heck…

Sticking to a time-dishonoured tradition on this blog, a significant story number calls for a celebration of some sort. So this is a walk with my camera (I don’t have a mobile phone as I’m so “tomorrow”) starting from the back of the property where I live. There a spring trickles out the side of a hill. I’ll follow the trickle of water for as far as possible before hitting neighbouring property and we’ll see what happens… (Note that photos of the crayfish and the pukeko are not my own, and nor are the last three photos).

The spring seeps out the bottom of the hill and creates quite a swamp.

It’s a complete soggy bog, almost impossible to walk over, although the dog (who seems to have joined me uninvited) has no trouble traversing the mud.

Little rivulets quickly appear and within maybe forty yards (36 metres or so) a small stream has formed.

Soon after, a little pool is shaped, gathers strength, and would crash down in white water torrents if things were multiplied by a 100!

Now the cat has joined me – uninvited. Oh well – what is a celebration without friends?

Almost immediately, the newly formed stream flows through a stream-cut channel and a natural fernery.

It enters a glade of willows – mainly fallen – where the water divides into stagnant pools. The thicket and swamp make it almost impenetrable.

Very soon the water re-emerges and flows down a gentle valley. By now it could be called a “stream” and over time it has carved out its path, exposing rocks and boulders.

Beneath the boulders many freshwater crayfish hide. They are a protected species – so no hors d’oeuvres tonight!

A skylark sings high in the sky. I can’t see it for the glare, but I’m joined by six fantails. These tiny birds dart and flutter around my head, twittering madly. They drive the dog crazy, but the cat remains nonchalant – knowing from experience that such zig-zagging creatures are uncatchable. Of course, it could be claimed that I’m a fantail whisperer and they twitter around my head because they love me. But my walk disturbs gnats in the grass, and this presents a feast for the fantails. Their fluttery flight is impossible to capture with my camera, but one bird sat long enough on a fence wire to allow a photograph!

There are literally thousands – if not millions – of Little Blue Butterflies and Common Copper Butterflies feeding on the winter-flowering daisies and dandelions. My steps create clouds of tiny butterfly wings!

A lone pukeko doesn’t mind being disturbed.

Soon the stream becomes wider and still. It’s as if it’s collecting itself, waiting to tumble to the next stage.

And here it’s on its way!

Immediately it forms a deep pool that has an eel lurking in it.

Someone thinks it’s his private swimming pool.

Thank goodness there’s a surf life-saver watching.

From here, the stream goes into shady undergrowth. It passes into a culvert, under a road, and out onto a neighbouring farmer’s farm.

I guess the walk has taken about 25 minutes. The stream cannot be followed anymore. But I know it later joins the Patea River.

It passes through Stratford, my local town. The volcano behind is Mt Taranaki.

From there, at a town called Patea, it flows out to sea!

Phew! What an exhausting walk!

1511: A story to advance cultural understanding

I from another country but I visit as tourist. I do not understand some of the strange way you foreigners have things. I will furnish you with example.

My wife and me we hire car to see the views around the country. We see big waterfall and wife photographed. We see other things. And when we pass through town the car ran over a cat. Of course I stopped and picked up cat and took it to house next to road.

“Oh,” screamed the lady. “That’s my Fluffy. Oh my poor Fluffy! You’ve killed my Fluffy!”

Very emotional lady. I thought it might have been the cat belonging to the house, which is why I came to ask if we could take it back to motel to cook for dinner.