100: Bad, Bad Kitty

100: Bad, Bad Kitty

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

Bad, Bad Kitty

A cat pent up becomes a lion.

~Italian Proverb

Maybe it was her name, Art, that caused my little female cat so much confusion. Whatever the reason, she was simply not interested in chasing birds or catching mice. Weighing in at only three pounds, Art was most happy on someone’s lap or sitting on the porch watching all the activities in the back yard.

Skinny, Art’s mother, was an expert hunter. Even with warning bells on her collar, she had no trouble catching the birds and mice unlucky enough to venture into our yard. Skinny took her job as a mother seriously as she tried to teach Art to hunt. But Art would just stretch slowly and walk away.

Shortly after my husband Paul and I were married, my two cats moved in with us. I hoped Skinny and Art would adjust to their new home.

We had a sliding glass door in our dining room. It opened onto a deck and the back yard. But while Art loved to just look out the window, Skinny paced and meowed by the deck door. She also perched herself on the back of a chair. It became her favorite lookout spot. After a week Skinny seemed to be settling in and I relaxed. But when the deck door was left open accidentally, she raced outside, never to be seen again.

Art moped around the house for a couple of weeks.

“Do you think Art has grown?” I asked Paul.

“I think so,” he said.

Without her domineering mother, Art doubled in size. It was amazing. She walked with a little more swagger. She puffed out her fur and swished her tail. She perched herself in Skinny’s lookout spot.

“I swear Art looks like Skinny now,” I said.

“She really does. Especially when she swishes her tail. I wonder what she’ll do next,” Paul said.

Three months had passed since Skinny disappeared. I thought it was safe to let Art outside. I started leaving the deck door open so Art could go in and out whenever she wanted.

“M-e-o-w.”

I looked up to see Art saunter into the house. “Paul, what’s that in Art’s mouth?”

We both watched Art let a live mouse go in the dining room. The mouse scampered into the kitchen cupboards.

“No, Art. Bad kitty.”

Paul and I spent the next three days trying to entice the mouse from its hiding place. Art paid no attention. Paul finally set a trap with peanut butter and we got the mouse out of our house.

For the next month, the deck door was shut tight each time Art was let outside. Art tried to bring a chipmunk into the house but the door was firmly shut. She let the chipmunk go. It scurried away.

“No, no,” I said to Art. “Bad kitty.”

The deck door was accidentally left open one day and Paul and I heard a loud “M-E-O-W.”

“Oh no,” Paul said. Art had dragged in a full-sized rabbit and dropped her on the dining room floor. The rabbit looked stunned for a second and then hopped and jumped all around the living room and kitchen.

Paul grabbed a laundry basket, turned it upside down, and the chase was on. I tried to corner the rabbit that was leaping frenetically about the kitchen. We blocked the kitchen exit and zeroed in. The laundry basket went over the rabbit and we eased the basket through the dining room and out the deck door. The rabbit hurried away.

Art had watched the whole pursuit while sitting on a chair.

“No, no,” I said to Art loudly. “Bad, bad kitty.” I looked at Paul in disbelief. What had gotten into Art?

The door was shut tightly for another month. I knew we couldn’t keep the cat inside forever, so one day I let Art outside. I thought I had closed the door behind her. It was open enough for her to push it the rest of the way and come back into the house.

“M-E-O-W.”

“Oh, my God. I don’t believe it,” I said.

Art swaggered into the house with an adult mourning dove in her mouth. She let it go. It flew through the house wildly.

I seized a broom and ran after the now frantic dove. Paul had a bathroom towel handy in case I actually hit the bird with the broom. After circling the living room several times, the bird twisted quickly and flew right into the window. It fell to the floor dazed. Paul put the towel around the bird and brought it outside. Since it was still bewildered from hitting the window, Paul laid it on the deck. It flew away after a couple of minutes.

“Okay, Art. That’s it. BAD, BAD KITTY,” I yelled. I had never raised my voice to Art because she was so timid. She started shaking until even her whiskers were moving in all different directions. I didn’t have the heart to shout at her anymore.

“Why do you think Art is bringing all these animals into the house?” I asked Paul that night.

“I think she just wanted to show us that she could catch them. Actually, Skinny would be proud.”

Art never hunted again after the incident with the dove. When she went outside, she stayed on the deck. Inside, she lived out her days sitting on the floor with our new baby Anne and watched the back yard from her perch on the chair.

~Mary Clare Lockman

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