A Cat Called Albert
Once upon a time there lived a cat.
In his youth he was all thick grey fur, whiskers and bright golden eyes.
Pampered and adored for his beauty, he won so many cat shows his house was stuffed full of his rosettes and cups!
He lived a life of luxury. He had his own chair in every room, ate only the best food and never, ever went outside unless he really had to.
Albert was special. Everyone told him so, his mother, his owner, the other cats he met at shows, their owners.
His life was perfect…except for his name.
It was a name he despised.
His name should reflect his true status. Majesty maybe. Or King. He was a pedigree after all. He won prizes! Unbeknown to him the pedigree name on his rosettes read Wasslander Albertson Rex; so Albert he remained.
Albert wasn’t happy about it. He spent a lifetime refusing to come when his name was called, and he generally gave his owner as much ignoring as he could muster. Albert’s owner didn’t seem to notice.
‘Cats will be cats‘ she said, but Albert felt his point was being made.
And the years passed.
Now he was old, grey and very, very fat. Too much of the best food, not enough time spent outside. His show days were very much behind him.
Times had changed, but Albert hadn’t.
Albert had no friends. None. Not. A. Single. One.
No-one in the neighbourhood ever stopped by.
Not even the flea-bitten, knock-kneed ginger tom called Tiddles that lived next door came to see him, and Tiddles had hardly any friends!
Not that he wanted to spend time with Tiddles. For a start Tiddles was called Tiddles, which was laughable. And Tiddles had no breeding — he didn’t even know who his father was. He’d never been to a show, he had no pedigree and no rosettes; he was far too ordinary for that.
No, Albert did not consider Tiddles to be a friend at all.
But none of the other cats in the area would spend time with him either.
They called him a snob, said he was rude and boring.
They said he was….dull.
Albert didn’t understand.
He couldn’t help being better that they were, his mother had made that very clear.
It was just who he was.
At first he’d tried to explain.
He told them about his rosettes and his cups and his fine family fur.
But they’d refused to listen. They’d laughed and turned their backs on him.
He’d even been attacked. Right by his own house!
That was when he stopped going outside the garden altogether.
Albert had been lonely for a very long time.
One summers day, he was lying outside on the steps, soaking up the sun, when he felt a breeze on his whiskers. He opened his eyes and a black eyed mouse appeared in front of him. It was a very small mouse.
A very small mouse.
The mouse stared back.
Albert rolled over.
The mouse’s feet danced a nervous dance, his tiny nose all a quiver.
‘Hmm,’ thought Albert. ‘I could eat him, but he is so very small. What would be the point?’
Albert stared hard at the little mouse, then he smiled.
‘It’s your lucky day mouse, I’m not going to eat you today.’
But when his sharp teeth flashed in the sunlight the little mouse nearly exploded with fear.
The huge, scary cat was going to eat him!
Quicker than a thought the mouse ran for his life.
Albert watched him go.
‘Oh well,’ he thought, ‘what else could you expect from a mouse?’
But when Albert rolled over and went back to sleep the mouse came back.
‘What a strange cat,’ thought Eek the mouse, for Eek was his name.
‘He didn’t chase me, I wonder why?’
Eek was a very young mouse and didn’t know that Albert was too fat to catch him.
Eek was an orphan.
He wasn’t even sure Eek was his name, but it was the noise his mother had made as she’d pushed him into the hole in the floor, just before the ratter cat came for them. It was all he had to remember her.
For Eek, the world had been a very scary and lonely place.
Nearly every living thing he’d met had tried to eat him, or stamp on him.
Run Eek, run!
But this cat didn’t want to eat him.
And there was food, lots of food, nearby. He could smell it.
Eek did a little dance on the spot, to get his courage up. Sometimes his feet just danced. He found it best to go with it. They seemed to know what they were doing.
Very carefully he pattered up the steps past Albert, and ran into the kitchen. He gobbled up the cheesy crumbs he’d smelt on the floor, his mousey cheeks stuffed full as he scampered away.
By the time Albert woke up, Eek had gone.
The next day, Eek came back. And the next day. And the day after that.
Albert couldn’t decide what to do about the brave little mouse.
He really didn’t want to eat it, and he definitely didn’t want to chase it.
Maybe he ought to do something. He was a cat. It was a mouse. It was biology.
He decided to wait and see what happened.
It didn’t take long for them to get used to each other.
At first Albert pretended to ignore the mouse as it scampered past, its big, black, saucer eyes blinking furiously as its feet tippy-tapped up the steps.
Sometimes Albert would flick a paw at him. The mouse would leap into the air with its little legs still running hard, as if it was trying to fly away.
That made him laugh.
It wasn’t long before Albert found himself looking forward to seeing the mouse.
Sometimes, if the kitchen door was closed, the mouse would come and sit with him.
Occasionally it squeaked at him.
Albert didn’t speak mouse, but he listened and nodded as if he understood.
Sometimes Albert would tell the mouse stories.
He was sure the mouse understood, it would stare at him and twitch it’s little nose.
But Eek didn’t speak cat.
He’d tried to tell the cat but he quickly found out the cat couldn’t speak mouse.
And it really didn’t matter.
Albert finally had a friend.
Eek had food, shelter and protection from a cat that didn’t want to eat him.
What could be better than that??
©Cathie Tufnail 2016
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