The cat had obviously endured rugged exploits in our Montana mountains, so I called him, The General, after a hero of some renown.

He learned his name quickly while my dog followed him around for days, watching him roll in delicious green grass, thoroughly fascinated by his gamy and bizarre self.  I wondered how old the yellow guy was, surely in his teens, looking grizzled after losing an eye, various teeth and claws, and another of his nine lives.

Winter found him curled up atop the bear before the fireplace, and occasionally a stroll into the barn where the mice had his number.

Often, I carried his skinny old carcass to his bowl of milk and special supper that put a dent in my monthly check.  But how could I complain, for I too, had been in the fight.

His will to survive taught me courage every day -- not to whine over my own stuff, but to roll with the punches.  We joyfully pursued our dotage together while the General longingly eyed the fur-covered cedar chest at the foot of our bed.  He worked his way up, thrumming sweet love songs in my ear -- then silence.

Ahead of our hard freeze I wept cold tears while fixing his resting place beneath giant firs, so glad he had chosen me to soothe his tattered body and loving soul.

Devoid of mews and purrs, I was sadly catless for the first time, and wondered if the General's dauntless spirit would rescue me with another vagabond or two.

Then one day, the radio touted a no-kill shelter where animals were altered, given their shots, and offered for a donation.  I grabbed the kitty crate, a scarce fifty dollar bill, and the dog and I jumped in the truck.

It was fun picking out a couple of barn born raucous youngsters. After the dog gave them the ranch tour, they made themselves right at home through the laundry room doggy door, then took dibs on favourite lounging spots.

Upon lifting the hood of my truck at my dealership one morning, the service manager and I stood stunned.  The year of the mouse had arrived, for the fire wall and most of the wiring was stripped bare. The thought of breathing in deadly deer mouse Hantavirus from the heater or A/C crossed my mind and left me cringing.

Shy, the yellow ringtail, was no mouser -- she preferred following me around, caressing my ankles, impeding my gait.

Between forest fire smoke and the legion of mice, summer upon these lush acres was torturous.  Holes were plugged with steel wool, but the varmints were bent on making my house theirs.  I loathed using poisons, for the rascals checked out beneath the warmth of the freezer, and there were forever drowned carcasses in the dog's water.

While my premises remained infested, the neighbours had been liberated, their skilled felines wiping out the plague within the month.

My two didn't have a clue.

Spook, the playful, black, devilish guy, was a fair hunter, but lazy about bushwhacking outlaws sprinting across the carpet.  He viewed mice as toys until tiring of the game, rendering every creature half dead.

The sorry victims sought solemnity in their demise and I was left with smelly corpses under something everywhere.

Then miracle of miracles -- eyes glowing and feet tipped with tiny daggers, hungry fledgling hawks swooped in, becoming every rodent's worst nightmare.  Fascinated by such sport, my kitties finally got the picture.

Spook and Shy exterminated vermin daily, earning their keep and divesting our log home, outbuildings, and eventually our land of the scourge.

It's so nice to be back to normal.

God must love me and my felines, despite their once draggy pursuits, for Mother Nature is decorating our mountain in her first winter raiment tonight.  My hunters stretch and yawn before the fireplace and I'm not sure if that lovely low purr is coming from the kitties, my sweet angelic General, or from my own heart.

Wherever it comes from, it conjures up youthful heroic deeds, and I've come to feel sorry for folks who hate cats, for they just might return as mice in their next life!


  -- Kathe Campbell <kathe at>



Kathe lives her dream on a Montana mountain with her mammoth donkeys, a Keeshond, and a few kitties. Three children, eleven grands and three greats round out her herd.  She is a prolific writer on Alzheimer's, and her stories are found on many ezines.  Kathe is a contributing author to the Chicken Soup For The Soul and Cup of Comfort series, numerous anthologies, RX for Writers, magazines and medical journals.



A Cats Purr

"Cats make one of the most satisfying sounds in the world: they purr ...

A purring cat is a form of high praise, like a gold star on a test paper. It is reinforcement of something we would all like to believe about ourselves - that we are nice."

Roger A Caras

Sponsored Advert