Two cats were walking down the road. They were both new to the neighbourhood. One was very well-groomed and wore an expensive collar. The other was rather unkempt and had no collar. He had a mouse in his mouth. They stopped for a moment to introduce themselves. 

drawn by Vernon Coleman‘I’m His Highness Rupert Braunton the 5th,’ said the cat with the expensive collar. ‘I cost £500. How much did you cost?’

The unkempt cat put down the mouse he was carrying. But he didn’t answer.

‘How much did you cost?’ demanded His Highness.

‘I’m not sure,’ replied the cat without the collar. ‘My name is Fred.’

‘I bet you didn’t cost anything,’ said His Highness with a sneer. ‘With a name like Fred I suspect that your Uprights were probably paid to look after you.’

Fred didn’t say anything.

‘I’m insured for more than £500,’ said His Highness. ‘My Uprights think I’m worth twice that now.’

‘Oh,’ said Fred.

‘I don’t suppose you’re insured at all, are you?’ said His Highness.

‘I don’t know,’ said Fred, who didn’t know what insurance was let alone what it tasted like.

‘After I won the big cup last month they said my value had doubled,’ said His Highness.

Fred nodded.

‘Where are you off to?’ asked His Highness.

‘A cat who lives down the road got knocked over by a car last week,’ explained Fred. ‘Today is his first day out. I thought I’d go and see how he is.’ He looked down at the mouse he’d put down. ‘I caught him a fresh mouse. I thought he’d like it.’

‘What’s the cat’s name?’ asked His Highness.

‘Billy,’ said Fred. ‘His Uprights call him Billy.’

‘Billy!’ said His Highness. ‘Another common name. Was he a stray?’

‘I think so,’ admitted Fred.

‘So he didn’t cost anything either?’

‘Probably not.’

‘No insurance.’

‘I don’t expect so.’

‘How very common,’ said His Highness with a sniff.

‘Do you want to come with me? asked Fred. ‘We could say the mouse was from both of us?’

His Highness stared at the other cat in astonishment. ‘Me visit a cat called Billy? A cat who cost nothing?’ He snorted. ‘Don’t be silly.’ And with that he turned round and walked away.

Fred picked up the mouse and continued on his way.

Billy was very pleased to see him. And delighted with the mouse. He told Fred all about his accident and insisted that they share the mouse for tea.

MORAL

It’s not what you cost that matters. It’s what you’re worth.

Vernon Coleman has written hundreds of books on all different subjects and his cat stories are very popular.

The above fable is an extract, taken with kind permission of Mr Coleman, from his latest book: 'Cat Fables' which is out now in hardback and available from his website: www.vernoncoleman.com

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