The Cat Who Was Afraid of Mice
By Barbara Imbrie
(who wrote this for her 8 year old grandson)
Afraid of mice? You really wouldn’t have expected it. His father, Tom Cat, was a famous mouse catcher. He had even won a blue ribbon at the county fair for catching the most mice in the shortest time—ten in ten minutes.
And his mother, Allie, was often sent for by the local farmers to clear their barns of mice. Tom’s fur was black with a white chest. Allie was a beautiful gray cat with white paws.
He was born in a warm barn in the Virginia countryside. He was Tom and Allie’s first kitten and they were so proud of him. They named him Kit. Kit’s fur was a combination of his father’s and mother’s: he had small stripes, black and brown.
Tom and Allie had great expectations for Kit. As soon as his eyes were open they started to train him. Allie would push a pinecone or a big leaf onto the barn floor. Then Tom showed him how to quietly sneak up on it, one paw at a time, then POUNCE! Kit copied his father again and again until he got to be very clever at it. He didn’t even mind the stickiness of the pinecone on his paws. He would chase the leaf as the wind blew it across the barn floor, then he would pounce on it just like his father.
Soon it was time for the real thing. Kit had grown fast. By springtime he was almost as big as his father, who said it was about time he caught his own food.
The farmer’s wife was in need of a good mouser. She came out to the barn to fetch Allie and Kit. She brought them into the kitchen that evening and then went to bed.
That night the mice came out of their little holes to eat the crumbs of cheese and crackers that had been left on the floor.
So many mice! First there was one, then three, then ten mice, all running around the kitchen floor and having a great time with the feast of cheese and crackers. Kit had never before seen even one mouse, and here there were at least ten at once. He yowled and made a great leap to the top of the table. He trembled all over.
“Kit!” his mother said. “What’s the matter with you?”
“Mother! I’m afraid of all those mice!” cried Kit. “There are so many of them. And they run around so fast. Maybe they will bite me!”
“Don’t be silly, Kit.” said his mother. “Let me show you what to do.”
And she pounced on one—and ate it right up, tail and all. Then she went for another, but he got away. This frightened the rest of the mice and they scurried back to their holes.
“Now get down off that table and we’ll practice chasing and pouncing again.” Allie said in a firm tone. She was worried. What would Kit’s father say? How could the son of the two best mouse-catchers in the State of Virginia be afraid of mice?
The next night the same thing happened again. Kit leaped on top of the refrigerator this time.
“Just watch me,” said his mother as she pounced on one mouse after another until five mice were dead.
“I can’t help it.” Said Kit. “They run around so fast and I’m afraid they’ll jump on me!”
The next morning Allie had to return to the barn to do her Spring Cleaning. Kit’s father, Tom, had gone on a hunting trip with three of his friends from a neighboring farm. Kit was alone in the house. Maybe Kit would learn to catch mice by himself. Maybe not.
As soon as his mother left, and after the mice had gone back to their hiding places, Kit began to explore the house. What a pleasant place it was! If only he could always live there—and if only the mice stayed in their holes all the time. He cautiously climbed the stairs to the second floor. There were three doors, but only one was open. Kit went in.
There was a boy sleeping in the bed. Kit jumped on the bed and gently put his paw on the boy’s head. The boy woke up and laughed. “What a beautiful cat!” he said and stroked Kit’s fur. This had never happened to Kit before. It was heaven.
The boy picked up Kit and took him down to the kitchen where he set out a saucer of cream. This was a new taste for Kit. He licked it all up.
Then the farmer came into the kitchen. “We still have mice in the house. I could hear them scurrying around all night. If this cat doesn’t catch mice we’ll have to get another one that does. I can’t afford to keep a useless cat!”
“Oh please Dad,” said the boy. “Let’s give him a chance. He’s such a lovely cat and I’m sure he will catch the mice soon.”
The farmer’s wife came into the kitchen to make breakfast. “We could try him out for a day or two and see if he catches the mice. His mother always got rid of the mice in my house in just a few days.”
So the farmer agreed to give Kit two days to get rid of the mice.
That night Kit curled up in a chair in the kitchen and waited for the mice to appear. He would try as hard as he could to catch the mice and not be afraid. He wanted to live with the boy in this wonderful house that was so much nicer than the barn.
But it happened again. When the mice came out of their holes and started running around the kitchen, Kit was frightened and again he jumped on top of the refrigerator.
In the morning the farmer came down to the kitchen and announced “One more day! If the mice aren’t gone tonight, the cat will have to go!”
Kit was very sad when he was put into the kitchen that night. If cats could cry he would have cried himself to sleep. But he couldn’t sleep. He kept thinking about the boy and about how much fun it would be to play with him all day, and maybe sleep with him in his bed at night.
The mice were just creeping out of their holes when a great loud thunderstorm frightened them back in hiding. Suddenly Kit smelled a strange smell. It wasn’t the smell of mice. It was something else. Like the bonfire the farmer had set in his field last fall to burn the brush from the woods. That was scary for the cats—they had run away to the safety of the barn.
Kit knew that something was wrong. That smell did not belong in a house. Quickly he jumped off the chair and ran up to the boy sleeping in his bed. “Wake up! Wake up!” Kit licked the boy’s face. He meowed as loudly as he could.
The boy woke up. “What’s the matter?” he groaned. And then the boy smelled the burning. “Fire!” he yelled and ran to wake up the farmer and his wife. The farmer quickly called the fire department while the farmer’s wife and the boy carrying Kit raced downstairs and out to the back yard. Soon the farmer joined them.
Soon they could hear the fire trucks racing and screaming their alarms on the highway. The fire fighters rushed into the house and then up to the roof. The lightning had hit the roof and started a fire there. They pulled the big hose from the truck and shot the water up to the top of the roof. The fire was out. The house was saved.
The family was still watching the fire fighters when the fire chief came down from the roof and told them the fire was out. “If you hadn’t called us right away you would have lost your house and probably your lives!” he said.
“The cat! It was the cat who woke me up! He saved out lives!” shouted the boy.
The next day the local newspaper reported the story of the cat who saved the lives of the family. The story was picked up by other papers all around the country. Reporters called to find out more about this famous cat and take pictures of the boy holding his life-saving cat. And the Society for Heroic Animals presented Kit with a Silver Medal, the first ever awarded to a cat.
But the happiest moment for both the boy and Kit was when the farmer announced to the family “This cat has saved our lives. He will always have a home with us. And if we need to get rid of the mice, we’ll find another cat to do that!”
So that is the story of the cat who was afraid of mice. Tom Cat and Allie were so proud of their son. They told all their cat friends about Kit’s medal and they never again mentioned anything about mice.