Wednesday, April 11, 2007

CATS! By Brian Hodgkinson

(The task set was to compose an original tale as it might have been told by an animal)

Grrrrr!! Cats!!! Don’t you just hate ‘em? Ever since I was a youngster, just with my eyes open and able to scramble for mother’s teat along with the rest of the litter – I never could abide cats.

It must have been something to do with heredity – I well remember mother telling us all that we should never trust a cat.

“Sly, crafty creatures they are”, she would say, “and never to be trusted. Never let one get near your food bowl, and never, ever, let one get behind you!”

Put me to some contortions at times, that has – but one does well to remember what one’s mother had said.

Father, too, on the rare occasions he deigned to visit us, was much of the same opinion.“Always skulking about, they are”, I recollect his saying once. “Can’t even get rid of their wastes in a healthy open manner – have to go digging holes and pretending they don’t have normal functions. And their language! Whoever can trust an animal that waves its tail and then lashes out at you? – it’s a contradiction in nature”.

So, being brought up the way I was, you can imagine that when I grew up and acquired a human family, I was very diligent in making sure that no hair or hide of a cat ever came anywhere near my house or garden. Even when I was exercising the male human in an extended trot along country lanes, I was always on the lookout for signs that a cat may have been in the area sometime.

Anyway – all that was perfectly satisfactory until one day a few months ago:-I was indulging in a post-lunch nap on the best corner of the sofa – having been busy all the morning burying bones at the bottom of the garden – and was really dozing off when I vaguely heard a knock on the door. I let the human answer it – after all they have to do some work for themselves sometimes.

Indistinctly I could hear voices, but I was busy enjoying my nap, and therefore didn’t stir when a young boy’s voice enquired:“I hear you’re looking for a kitten?”

“Well, yes,” replied my human.“I’ve got one here.”

“Oh, it’s so tiny – it’s eyes aren’t even open! You can’t take a kitten so small away from it’s mother!”

“No, it’s mother was killed by a truck in the lane this morning.”

“Well,” said my human, “I’ll try. I’ll give it some honey and milk through an eyedropper, and try and find it somewhere warm.”

I heard various noises going on, but really was so exhausted from the morning’s labours that I couldn’t be bothered to go and investigate. So – imagine my shock and horror when I felt my human sit beside me and place a weight as light as a feather on my side.

“There you are, Tiger,” he said, “you have to look after this tiny scrap of life. I am counting on you to do your best.”

Well – faced with such a request – nay, such a command – what could I do? After all, we dogs are renowned for keeping our word.

So, for the best part of a month, I lay on that sofa keeping that “scrap of life: alive. When it piddled on me (or did worse things) I heroically cleaned it up (after a sigh, I must say!); when it tried to find a nipple to suck on I even allowed it to chomp on a few hairs on my chest.

And then of course, it’s eyes opened after a few days, and as I was the first creature that it ever saw – horror to relate – it thought that I was it’s mother! Me, a self-respecting greyish-black male poodle with a pedigree going back to Bonaparte – being a mother to an inky black little creature which already showed signs of growing into a cat!

But – as I said – what could I do? A promise is a promise, after all.And that was four or five months ago. And now – look at us, the pair of us!

We share the sofa, we share the meal dish, we go for walks together with the human, we even share a bed at night.

And, believe it or not, I like him! And I think he likes me – at least if that funny growling noise is anything to go by as he rubs his chin against mine.

But – sorry, can’t stop now – I see a real cat in the garden! WOW! I must get rid of that – I’ll catch up with you later!

Brian Hodgkinson © 2007


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