Hello, my name is Milou. I am a little black and white cat, and I live in Belgium. I have a nice life, but it was not always like it is now. 

Milou and TintinI was born on a busy military installation. My mother belonged to a family, but I do not know what happened to them. When I was very small, she was killed and I was left alone with my brother and sisters. Bad men took us and meant to kill us all by putting us in a cloth bag and bashing us against a wall. A small woman with a loud voice rescued my brother and I. We were taken to her house, we were glad to be alive, but worried because the lady said that she could not keep us.

We did not know what would happen, we were kept in a small cage. I felt very weak, I did not know it, but I was sick. My brother was better off, but just as frightened. We could not forget what had happened to the rest of our family.

One day a nice Colonel in a green uniform came to visit. He liked cats and before we knew it we were in his car, leaving the scary place forever where my mother and sisters had died. He took us to a little house in the country, where we met his wife and four other cats.

One of the cats, a large grey fellow named Moische, was still very sad because his brother had been recently killed by a car. When Moische saw us, he knew that we were too young to be on our own, and he took it upon himself to take care of us. He protected us from everything, and taught us how to be clean and to use the litter box. Moische saw at once that I was sick and he never left my side. If any of the other cats came near me, except for my brother, he would chase them away. The other cats did not mean any harm, but Moische did not believe in taking any chances.

They named my brother Tin-Tin, and called me Milou. Moische showed the Colonel's wife that I was sick, and she took both Tin-Tin and I to a veterinarian. I had never had my temperature taken before, so I was surprised about this procedure. The veterinarian gave me some shots and some medicine.

By the next day, I was much better, and soon had even more energy than Tin-Tin. But the sickness had taken its toll, and I will always be much smaller than the other cats, even though I try to make up for it by eating as much as I can. Tin-Tin is twice my size, although we are the same age.

Tin-Tin and I decided that we had to share our two people, so I concentrate on the Colonel's wife (she is my favourite person in the whole world), while Tin-Tin concentrates on the Colonel. The arrangement works well and nobody has to work too hard. Additionally, I have an important job in the house ... I am responsible for quality control of my people's food. I always have to try a little of it, to make sure that it is fit. As a reward for this, the Colonel's wife always gives me a little ice cream with something she calls Rumtopf. It is a wonderful desert.

One day I was looking out the window upstairs and saw some birds. To get a better view, I leaned out the window and soon found myself on the roof! I slid down the clay tiles until I stopped in the rain gutter. The clay roof tiles were too steep and slippery for me to climb back up on, so I took the chance and jumped down to the ground.

Nobody knew I was outside, and as I had never been out before (except when I was very young on that scary military installation), I decided to look around the garden. I could smell strange cats, but I knew that all the Colonel's cats were friendly, and so I thought that these others must be too. I smelled other smells as well, of animals different from cats.

I went into the back yard and discovered a huge area. Soon I was through the hedge and walking through a very big field, all with the same kind of plant growing in rows. I took a nibble on a leaf, but it did not taste good so I left off doing this and continued to explore. I should have paid better attention, but soon I realized that I did not know which way to go to get home. Now I was really frightened and I hoped that someone would help me.

Suddenly, I heard a noise. Something about my size was in the next row of plants. I thought that, perhaps, this other fellow might know his way around and be able to give me directions, so I went into the next row to introduce myself. I found myself facing a very large rat! I had never seen a rat before, and I had no idea that they could be as large as a little cat.

As politely as I could, I asked him if he knew how to get to the Colonel's house. The rat did not even answer. He lunged at me and before I knew it he had bitten completely through my upper lip, and we were locked together. I let him have it with my claws, and pulled away as hard as I could. His teeth ripped through my lip, and we were apart. We both ran in opposite directions.

I had escaped the rat, but now I was even more disoriented. I sat down and cried, but nobody heard me.

Suddenly, in the distance, I heard people calling, "Milou, Milou." It was very faint. I started out in the direction of the calls, but the direction changed. They were looking for me through the fields. I decided not to follow the changing direction, but to try and understand a pattern about it. Finally, I judged the general direction I should go. When I was no longer sure, I stopped, and waited to hear my name again. Sometimes a long time would go by, but it always started again. Every time I heard it, I moved toward the sound. It was growing dark.

Finally I found myself at a hedge. Was it the right hedge? I called out to my friends, and soon heard the Colonel answering me. I came out of the hedge and found myself back in the garden. The Colonel picked me up and brought me into the house. I have not gone out of it, except to visit the veterinarian, ever since. I told Tin-Tin all about my experience, and we agreed that it is much better in the house than it is outside.

Sometimes some of the other cats go outside to play, while the Colonel or his wife watches them. But Tin-Tin and I always stay inside. We have had enough of that big and dangerous world out there. There is plenty to do inside. We know the Colonel and his wife, but our experience with other creatures outside the house has not been positive and so we always hide when anyone else comes. The Colonel told us that this is not necessary, but he was never put in a sack to be beaten to death, and he never faced such a rat as I did. This gives him a different point of view.

© Jared Kline 2004

You can read Mr. Stripey by Jared here:


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