13: Guilty

13: Guilty

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?


Even if you have just destroyed a Ming Vase, purr. Usually all will be forgiven.

~Lenny Rubenstein

Were we so oblivious that we’d sat on the upstairs couch each night watching movies together, but never noticed the couch’s upholstery had been shredded to pieces? “Don’t you hear him or see him scratching?” I asked my sons, since they had their office and bedrooms upstairs within sight of the couch.

Little Man strutted his stuff throughout the rest of the house and was famous for scratching the furniture. When he got caught in the act he would be gently reprimanded by his owners: my sons. However as any cat owner knows, you need to catch them in the act. If Little Man had been scratching, whoever was inside should have heard it. The open, airy design of the house allowed noises to drift through the rooms and that included cat scratching.

As a deterrent, protection was placed on the couch, however the abuse continued. This called for desperate measures, but no matter how hard we tried, Little Man’s criminal behavior eluded us.

Each day our family left the house to walk the dog. Little Man would be curled up downstairs when we’d leave and still curled up in the same place when we returned, so he must have been committing the act some other time, but when?

As the crime continued, the detectives went to work. First the weapons were examined as they searched for clues in Little Man’s claws. In the morning, the pads of his feet were clean and empty, but later in the afternoon bits and pieces of foam appeared between his claws. Eventually we narrowed down the time frame when his criminal activity must have been occurring.

Weeks went by as my sons tried to catch our criminal in the act, but without any luck. One afternoon, after our dog walk, I’d remained outside to do some gardening. When I came in I heard uncontrollable laughter coming from upstairs. “What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Come up and see for yourself,” they answered.

My sons had their video camera out. As I watched the footage they had recorded, I found myself staring at their shredded couch. First I heard a bang. Then within minutes the camera showed Little Man sneaking quickly up the stairs. His blue eyes darted here and there making sure no one else was in the room. When his face came in view of the camera his expression showed a cat on a mission as he walked nonchalantly over to the couch, balanced on his hind legs and stretched his arms as high as he could on the couch arm.

With no conscience whatsoever, he proceeded to annihilate the couch, vigorously clawing and scratching with all of his might. Bits and pieces of foam flew from the couch as his claws scratched feverishly. Then, when he had finished, he strolled innocently over to the stairs and peered down, to make sure that we hadn’t come in from the walk unexpectedly. With an expression of pure ecstasy, he gazed lovingly at the couch one last time and then proudly headed back downstairs to assume his sleeping position.

The mystery of the couch had been solved, but Little Man — in his twelve years — never got caught in the act. Today the couch remains upstairs as a monument to his guilt, but the video of him committing his crime is priceless — especially now that he’s passed on. His cunningness, his expressions, and his passion for getting away with his crime will always bring a smile to our faces.

~Jill Burns

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