The Planet of the Cats. The second and concluding part of our venture into outer space (see part one here). To recap – Bonzo the dog – better known as Astropup – was an ordinary pet dog belonging to Jenny. When his family moved to Kuwait, Pa gave him to the Space Centre. From there he was sent on a journey to another planet in the company of a cat and a parrot. This was unfortunate, as Bonzo hates cats more than anything in the Universe.
The new planet looks like Earth by the sea-side. But what sort of creatures live there? Will they be nice or scary? And will Astropup ever return home to see Jenny again? Listen and find out.
Story by Bertie.
Voices by Natasha. Duration 20.33.
Proofread by Jana Elizabeth
The cat said that if we stayed on the beach, we would die of hunger. But I said that wasn’t strictly true. We would die of thirst before we died of hunger. We argued about that point for a little while, but eventually we agreed to go in-land. We climbed up the dunes, and nosed our way through some long grass. The Parrot flew over-head, and it was then that I saw that he had something strapped to his foot. When I pointed this out to the cat she said:
“Haven’t you noticed that before? It’s a camera. He's filming us, so that the humans can see what we are doing. They were too afraid to come here themselves, so they’ve sent us to explore and the Parrot to film us.”
By that stage, I really didn’t know whether or not to believe a word that cat said. I was still looking out for the house of Jenny’s grandma.
We came to a wood and a stream, and lapped up pure cold water. The cat said that proved she was right. We weren’t going to die of thirst, but we were going to die of hunger. I was too tired to argue any more. We went to sleep, and in the morning continued on our journey. I chased a few rabbits and squirrels, but didn’t catch anything. The cat said that was because I yapped and made too much noise. If only I would leave the hunting to her, she would have a chance. And I told her that if only she would learn to keep her mouth shut, she would be much improved as a travelling companion.
At long last we saw a house. It wasn’t the house that belonged to Jenny’s grandma, but I thought that the people who lived there would know how to help us. I told the cat to fluff up her fur and look cute, if that was possible for a cat to do. I practiced waggling my ears. That usually does the trick.
We went up to the door and I woofed politely. Nobody came out, so I woofed a little louder. The Parrot sat up in a tree and watched us, still pointing that camera thing on his foot at us. Then from inside I heard something like a mee-ow. Uh-oh, I thought. Some people like cats, and other people like dogs, and this time it looks like mog’s in luck, not me.
The door opened a crack, and I prepared to waggle my ears and role my eyes with all my might. My little tail was thumping on the ground of its own accord. But my hopes were not high, for my nostrils were filling up with the strongest smell of cat I had ever experienced. Oh, no, I thought. They must have hundreds of cats in there. What a dump!
The door opened more and somebody stepped out. I looked up and saw the strangest, weirdest, most horrific face I had ever seen. It was like a human face, but then it was also like a cat face. It had lips like a human, but long pointed teeth like a cat. It had a human nose, but a cat’s whiskers. It’s eyes were diamond shaped, and a scary green colour, and its ears were pointed.
I am proud to say that I didn’t whimper, and I didn’t whine. In my heart I was terrified, but outwardly I was up for a fight to the death. I snarled at that dreadful cat person, and showed my teeth and all my gums. He or she or it, backed off behind the door, and I slowly withdrew down the path. By the time I reached the gate, I saw that the thing had come out again, and was cradling the cat, my former travelling companion, in its arms like a baby. And the Earth mog had a big cheesy grin all over her smarmy face. That was the last I saw of her.
I continued down the road, full of trepidation. I saw a bicycle up ahead, and for safety’s sake, dived into the ditch and hid. When it got closer, I saw that its rider was cat person. Half of me wanted to chase it down the road, but I resisted the temptation. Next an even stranger contraption came along. It was truly a sight that no self-respecting dog would ever want to see, and I tremble to tell you of it. It was a carriage, of the sort that I’ve seen in the park back on Earth. The driver and passengers were both cat people, but that wasn’t the worst of it. For it was pulled along, not by horses as you would expect back home, but by two great shaggy sheep dogs. Ahow Ahow Ahow! The shame of it! Dogs working like slaves for Cats!
By night fall, I was more hungry than terrified, and I began to wonder if the cat’s prediction of death by starvation would come true. I was so hungry I could have eaten fish, and normally I hate fish more than anything.
I came to another house, and from a distance I saw two dogs – little Jack Russell’s – tied up to a kennel. They were both eating from a bowl, and I went up and whispered: “Hey boys, could you spare a few morsels for a starving canine cousin?”
They both looked at me like they didn’t understand animal speak. So I repeated my request, and still they were dumb. Cautiously, I came forward and took a bite from their bowl. They didn’t stop me, but they didn’t need to. It tasted quite disgusting, and I spat it out. Only then did I see what it was. A dead mouse!
Another horror to add to my long list of horrors! Dogs forced to eat mice! If you’ve ever wondered what a world ruled by cats would be like – and why in the Universe should you have had such a dreadful thought – this is what it would be like. Disgusting and degrading from start to finish.
The next morning, I was sleeping in a ditch, and I was so hungry that I was starting to regret not eating that mouse. That mog’s prediction was coming closer to fulfillment. Aw Awooooo! What a way to go to the next world! On an empty stomach! Oh, I forgot, I already was in a different world. Silly me. That was the hunger getting to my brain.
When the dog catchers came, I was already too weak to run away. Two cat people wearing masks over their moggy features, scooped me up on a spade and shovelled me into a the back of a cart. I was only just aware of bumping along the road. When we arrived at the end of our journey, I saw that the cart was pulled by a couple of German Shepherd dog slaves. A cat person dragged me, half dead, into a building. At least it was filled with canine sounds, but they were far from comforting. This was a giant prison-kennel, full of dogs barking and howling. I could not understand the local language on this planet, but I could tell you for sure that those weren’t happy doggies. I would say they were close to going crazy.
I was shown into a prison cell inside of which were ten other dogs, but at least there was a trough of water. My fellow couped up pouches weren’t a bad lot. Although we had no words in common, I could tell they were making the best of things. It seemed to me that they were making jokes at the expense of the cat people. It was a pity I could not have joined in, but then again, even if I could have told them that I had dropped in from another world – a world where all dogs looked down on cats and chased them up trees – a world where dogs were respected and called “man’s best friend” – they would hardly have believed me. In fact, they would have called me nuts.
I managed to get some light sleep, but some time in the middle of the night, I was awoken by a light tap on the nose. I half opened one eye, so that anybody looking couldn’t really tell whether I was awake or not, and I made out the shape of a bird flapping around our kennel. It took me a while to realize who it was .
“Hello Parrot,” I said. “Did they lock you up here too?”
“No, you stupid mutt,” said the Parrot. “I’ve come to rescue you. Hang on a mo!” And with that he flew out through the bars and started work on the bolt that kept the door shut. It was clearly a lot of effort for a parrot to slide that bolt, but he was stronger than he looked, and somehow he managed it. The door creaked open, and I got to my feet.
“Hurry up” said the bird, but I couldn’t leave without the others, and so I woofed to my cell mates to wake them up. They did indeed wake, but so did the guard, a great brute of a cat person. He came at us, waving a big stick, but one of the mongrels in our cage rushed at him and bit his ankle. The cat person was meowing with surprise and rage. I don’t suppose any dog had dared do that to him before – but it was too late for him to raise the alarm, because we were on the way out. A sheep dog knocked over another guard on final exit, and we were free and running down the road at full tilt. The Parrot flapped in front squawking: “Follow me” and we kept on running till I could smell the sea air once again, and soon we were on the moon-lit beach. Two of the dogs from the prison had kept up with us – a speedy little whippet and the mongrel who had bit the guard by the ankle. The others had scattered into the woods.
The Parrot led the way back to the spaceship. “Those two can’t come in. There’s no room,” he said. But I insisted. I wasn’t going to leave my own kind behind in this dog-forsaken cat world. So in they came, and the door closed behind us. We waited an awfully long time, and some cat people must have found the rocket, because we could hear them clawing on the side of the spaceship, but then it began to rumble and roar. I hope we singed a few cat whiskers on take-off.
On the long journey home the Parrot explained quite a bit to me. He was the most highly qualified bird working at the Space centre. He could speak several languages including bird language, animal language, and was totally fluent in human language too. He had passed all the Space centre's trickiest tests and exams with flying parrot colours. As a result he had been selected for this incredibly important mission. You see, a deep space probe had discovered a new planet. The evidence suggested that the planet was chiefly inhabited by cats and dogs. The top scientists decided to send a cat and a dog from Earth as ambassadors, but as none could be found who spoke human language, it had been decided to send this most extraordinary Parrot to go with us and report back. The scientists wanted us back on Earth so they could watch the film and see what the planet and its inhabitants looked like. Oh boy. They were in for a surprise.
We were happy though, for we knew we were travelling to a world where we would be respected and fed nice food out of tins. The other two dogs started to learn some of our language, and I was able to tell them that and next time they set eyes on a mog, they could chase the scoundrel up a tree.
We landed once again with a nasty bump. They really ought to design a spaceship with a soft landing. It just goes to show that the people who make those things never travel in them. When the door opened, we slid down the slide onto hot sand. It was so hot that it made our paws want to dance. But soon enough people arrived in buggies travelling over the sand dunes, and some of them were pointing cameras at us. We were taken back to a big house where more people were waiting and clapping.
We were led inside and watered and fed to our hearts’ and stomachs’ content. Some nasty vets did take a look at us, but a short sharp jab in the behind was a small price to pay for returning back to a decent world where cats know their place. It was certainly a hot and sunny country though. I asked the Parrot where we were, and he said it was called Kuwait.
Kuwait. That sounded familiar, but after all my adventures, I couldn’t quite say where I had heard that name before. It was only later that evening when I heard a lovely voice calling “Bonzo! Do you remember me?" when I twigged it. Yes, this was where my family had come to live, and now Jenny had come to meet me.
How lovely it was to see my best friend. She was cuddling me and kissing me, and telling me that I was her hero. She had seen me on the television news, and they had dubbed me Astropup.
I wasn’t allowed home for a week or two while the Space Centre did tests on me, but now I’m back with Jenny in her new house in Kuwait. Sometimes I see the other two dogs from the cat planet. They’ve found good homes too, and are spoiled rotten. There’s a cat who lives in a house nearby, but I can’t even be bothered to chase him. He’s beneath my contempt.
Occasionally I’m invited onto a television or radio show, and they show the pictures the Parrot took of me as I snarled at that evil cat person. Pa likes to boast about me, as if he was the one who had trained up his dog to be a famous explorer and pioneer in space.
Just yesterday, Pa said that soon we will be going back to live in our usual country. We’ll be going by plane I’m glad to say. No more spaceships for me. Not ever again.