by Karleen Bradford

Copyright © Karleen Bradford. All rights reserved.

I found a cat,” said Brittney. “It was lost.”

“That’s not a cat,” Courtney said. “That’s a cat-astrophe.”

Brittney didn’t know what a cat-astrophe was, but it didn’t sound good.

“I’ll bath it,” said Brittney. “It will look a lot better then.”

“I think you’d better ask Mom,” Courtney said. “I don’t think cats like baths.”

“Mom isn’t home,” Brittney answered. “She said you were in charge.”

“Well, if I’m in charge I say don’t bath it.”

“It’s such a small cat, how could it be any trouble?” Brittney asked.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Courtney insisted.

“Please?” Brittney begged. She put on her most pleading look. It nearly always worked, even with Courtney.

“Well,” said Courtney. “Maybe...”

That was all Brittney needed. She raced to the kitchen and began to fill the sink with warm soapy water.

“I wouldn’t just dump the cat into the water,” Courtney began, but she was too late.

The cat’s feet touched the water.

The cat exploded with a YOWL!

Brittney dropped it.

“Hang onto it!” shouted Courtney.

“Grab it!” shouted Brittney.

But there was no grabbing that cat. In the twitch of a whisker it had leaped out of the sink and streaked into the living room, trailing soap and water in a river behind it. It circled the living room twice, then rocketed into the dining room. It leaped onto the dining room table and skidded the length of it.

“I told you,” Courtney said, “I told you. That’s not a cat, it’s a cat-astrophe.”

This time Brittney thought she knew what Courtney meant.

It took a long time to clean the mess up. When they finished, they went looking for the cat. They found it back in the family room, sitting in a patch of sunlight, licking itself dry.

“I’ll bet it’s hungry,” said Brittney. “I’m going to feed it.”

“We don’t have any cat food,” said Courtney.

“I’ll find something,” said Brittney. She rummaged around in the cupboard and brought out a can with a picture of a fish on it.

“Caviar,” Courtney read. “I think that’s something special. Maybe you should ask Mom.”

“Mom’s not here,” Brittney said. “You’re in charge, remember? Can I give him this?”

“I don’t think so,” Courtney answered.

“Please?” begged Brittney. “How special can a can of fish be?”

“Well...” said Courtney.

“Great!” said Brittney. She opened the can. It smelled awful. “Yuck,” Brittney said, “there’s nothing in here but fish eggs. I don’t think even a cat would like it.”

But the cat had pricked up its ears the moment the can was open. It stalked into the kitchen. Brittney spooned some of the smelly stuff into a bowl and put it down. The cat lapped it up and meowed for more. As Brittney scooped the last bits into the dish, Courtney caught sight of the price on the can.

“Oh, no,” she said. “We’re in trouble! Those fish eggs cost a pile of money. They must have been really special. That’s not a cat,” she wailed, “it’s a cat-astrophe.”

Brittney looked at the price on the can. This time she knew what Courtney meant.

They were in disgrace from the moment their mother opened the door. Mrs. Edwards saw pieces of a broken vase in the trash. Then she saw the empty tin of caviar.

“That was going to be my special treat for your Grandmother’s birthday,” she said. “Why in the world would you girls eat that?”

Just at that moment, the cat walked in.

“A cat!” Mrs. Edwards exclaimed. “Where did that come from?”

“I found it,” Brittney answered. “It was lost and I rescued it. We bathed it...”

“So I noticed,” her mother said.

“And we fed it...”

“Ah,” Mrs. Edwards said. “My caviar. That explains it.”

“Can we keep it?” Brittney asked.

“Certainly not,” her mother answered. “That cat has caused enough trouble already. It’s a regular...” she stopped, at a loss for words.

“Cat-astrophe,” Courtney said.

“Exactly!” her mother said. “First thing in the morning, that cat goes to the animal shelter. I’m sure it will find a good home,” she added.

Brittney hugged the cat to her and carried it up to bed. She was trying hard not to cry.

In the middle of the night, none of them heard the sound of dripping water. The kitchen tap had sprung a leak and the plug was still in the sink.

Around about midnight, the cat woke up. A little rumble of hunger stirred in its stomach. The memory of caviar sifted through its mind. Its tongue flicked out and tested its whiskers to see if any trace remained. Not a bit. It stretched, then leaped off Brittney’s bed. It padded down the stairs, through the living room, through the dining room, and into the kitchen. Straight into a puddle of water!

The cat exploded with a YOWL!

Brittney shot up out of bed. Courtney flew out of her room. Mrs. Edwards stumbled out of hers. The cat streaked past them all and made for the safety of Brittney’s bed.

Then they heard the water.

“If we hadn’t turned it off when we did, the whole downstairs would have been flooded,” Mrs. Edwards said the next morning. The floor was mopped up and the cat had calmed down and found another patch of sunlight to curl up in.

Mrs. Edwards looked at it.

“It’s really quite a good-looking cat,” she said slowly.

Brittney turned the full force of that pleading look on her mother. “It’s a wonderful cat, Mom,” she said. “Couldn’t we keep it?” she begged. “Please?”

“It did save us from getting into a lot of trouble last night,” Mrs. Edwards said even more slowly.

Courtney couldn’t believe her ears.

“Maybe...maybe we could...” Mrs. Edwards said.

Brittney didn’t wait to hear another word. She scooped the cat up into her arms.

“Thank you!” she cried. “Oh, thank you! Now...what shall we call it?” she asked. “Fluffy? Mittens? How about Boots? How about Princess?”

Courtney shook her head.

“I can’t believe it,” she said.

“How about Cat-astrophe?”

But she was smiling.