“Meow,” Jerry the three month old kitten said as Rachel, the kennel worker scrambled, into the cattery. “Meow.”
 

“Hi Jerry.” Rachel stroked the cream colored kitten’s head. “Can’t play now. Maybe later.”

“Meow,” Jerry said, watching Rachel scoop poop from the litter boxes. “Meow.”

“Don’t be so sad,” Harriet said, as she jumped off the windowsill and landed next to Jerry. “Mornings are tough around here. Workers clean up after us cats so it looks spiffy for visitors. They want people to give us good homes.”

“I miss my mom,” Jerry said, with droopy eyes.

“Where is she?”

“We got separated in the alleys. A phone repairman brought me here but he left mom. I guess she’s not coming for me.”

“I’m sorry little one,” Harriet said, rubbing up against Jerry. “Be a big boy now. Stick with the great Harriet. I’ll protect you. At least you won’t go hungry. There’s always a big bowl of kibble.”

“I don’t like living among so many cats,” Jerry said. “Some of them are so bossy.”

“What, you don’t like your own kind? Listen to those yapping dogs on the other side? I hear the big mouth Beagle Bertha in the last row. I can’t stand her.”

“There was a stray dog in our alley,” Jerry said. “He didn’t bother us. I felt sorry for him because of his bum leg. And he was always so hungry. Mom stalked mice and birds so we could eat. That poor dog didn’t know what to do.”

“You’re young and you’re new,” Harriet said. “You’ll adjust. There’s only a few nasty cats. A lot of us older cats resent you kits because youngsters get adopted quicker. We old timers linger. So don’t take a brush off personally. Come, I’ll introduce you to my friends.”

“In a minute,” Jerry said. “Looks like Rachel is almost done. She always hands out fishy snacks before she leaves. She says cats are special.”

“Smart woman that Rachel,” Harriet said. “Of course cats are special.”

Rachel petted Jerry while he gobbled down his treats. The kitten plopped himself on her lap, making it impossible for her to leave. Jerry was content with the affection.

Opening time was soon. Litter boxes still had to be cleaned and dirty towels run through the machine. Rachel was on her way so Jerry wandered around until he found Harriet sacked out on a pillow, sound asleep. Waking her might annoy the cat so Jerry snuggled up and dozed off. Harriet rolled over. As she stretched, her paw smacked Jerry’s head. She said, “Jerry, what’re you doing here?”

“You said to stick by you,” Jerry said.

“I didn’t mean it literally. But now that you’re here, let’s eat. The great Harriet is hungry.” 

The two cats ambled to one of the many food bowls scattered throughout the cattery. Along the way Harriet introduced Jerry to her friends. “You know everyone,” Jerry said.

“They recognize brilliance,” she said.

“Why doesn’t anyone want you?” Jerry asked.

“Their loss, my boy,” Harriet said. “As I’m sure you noticed, I’m a dignified and refined cat. The other cats look up to me.”

“I hope to be an important cat like you.”

“You’ll go far in life.”

The pair found an unattended food bowl and started to eat. “You know why I’m here,” Jerry said. “What happened to you?”

“It’s a long story,” Harriet said in between bites.

“We’ve got plenty of time. It’s a shelter, not like we can go anywhere.”

“The great Harriet needs food to keep up her strength. Then I’ll tell you. Be prepared for a fascinating story.”

Harriet didn’t want to upset the youngster with her sad story about her owner’s tragic death and her subsequent abandonment so she used her imagination.

“The great Harriet was a bad cat,” she said. “I’m nosy by nature. So when I saw an open window, rare in my house, I slipped out to wander the neighborhood. I didn’t plan to stay out long and worry Candice. I just see if any other cats were around. Sometimes I felt like a little feline company. I was an only cat.”

As Harriet sniffed for signs of cats, she ran into a big fat hairy dog named Dizzy. At first the great Harriet was scared although she’d never admit fear, especially to a dog. But she stood her ground and faced the beast.

“What happened?” Jerry asked.

“I held out my sharpened claws, ready to defend myself, but the doofus was lost. The pool cleaner left the back gate open and Dizzy decides to go for a walk,” Harriet said. “He asked my help getting home. I felt sorry for the sobbing heap of bones so I said yes.”

“And did you find his home?”

“Be patient, I’m getting to that,” Harriet said. “I told him I’d always been an indoor cat and wasn’t familiar with the area. He starts heaving so I say stop that for crying out loud. I hate it when big dogs cry.”

Harriet suggested that she and Dizzy stroll around the neighborhood until something tickled the dog’s memory. His owner took him for daily walks. Harriet thought that would work.

“So did it?” Jerry asked.

“After tramping up and down block after block, Dizzy finally sees his house and says that’s where I live,” Harriet said. “He tries to kiss me but I don’t want dog slobber on me. I tell him to go home, I’ll be fine.” Harriet was irked that the dog didn’t say thanks but she assumed he was so excited that he just forgot. She decided to forgive him.

The cat was out much longer than expected. Scampering over a fence, she climbed up a tree and jumped onto a roof. She darted across a yard, through a field and stopped when she got to busy street. Nothing looked familiar.

“Sounds like you were lost,” Jerry said.

“All because of that dog.”

“Harriet, you were being nice,” Jerry said.

“If my owner had remembered to put on my new collar and ID tag, I might be home. Instead, I ended up here.”

“I’m glad I found you,” Jerry said. “I’m scared and need a friend.”

“Don’t get too mushy. I’m not that kind of cat. But you can count on me Jerry.”

The end.

  

One Cat is Company

"One cat is company.
Two cats are a conspiracy. 
Three cats is an attempted takeover.
Four or more cats is a complete coup!"

Shona Steele (Australia)

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