When Jay woke up it was raining. It wouldn’t be a good day to be outside working on trucks, and if there were no calls, he thought he’d take it easy today. Well, at least from work. He had other things that needed to be done, and he’d take care of those. As he went to the kitchen to make coffee, he saw LT sitting on the table, waiting for him. Again, LT was inside. Yes, it was raining, but not hard enough to keep LT indoors. In this type of weather he often prowled the wooded areas around the house. He seemed to like a certain level of rain. Maybe it made it easier to smell the mice? Jay didn’t know.
He made his coffee and served LT his breakfast on the table. As Jay ate his toast and marmalade, he talked to LT. “Those cats are really bugging you, aren’t they, LT? You haven’t spent this much time indoors since last winter when it was really cold. When I finish my breakfast, I’ll see if I can find out whose cats they are. I saw a moving van going into a driveway a ways down the street – that’s probably the house with the new cats. I’ll have a talk with the owners. I don’t know if it will help, but I can at least try.”
LT purred at the Daddy, secure that he’d figure out a way to keep them safe. Jay wasn’t so sure. When Fuzzy had been attacking his cats he hadn’t been able to stop him. It was the combined efforts of LT and Rudy that convinced Fuzzy to leave them alone. Maybe this owner would be a bit more responsive. He couldn’t imagine people who didn’t care if their cats hurt others, and Jay didn’t think the police would care if cats were hurting other cats. If they attacked people, that was significant. He sighed. In the minds of the law, cats didn’t matter, only people.
Jay decided to drive, since it was raining pretty hard. He found the driveway where he’d seen the moving van pull into, and drove into the yard. It was a nice house, not as old as his, and larger. He didn’t know what to expect, but figured he needed to give this a try. He went to the door and knocked. Belatedly, he wondered if he should have brought a welcome to the neighborhood gift – food or something. Well, it would be kind of phony if he did. Welcome to the neighborhood, by the way, your cats are the spawn of Satan and you need to stop them. It was probably better that he didn’t bring anything.
The door was opened by a woman in her sixties, dressed in a flowered dress. “Can I help you?” she asked.
“Hi, I’m Jay and I live down the street. Just these past few days a band of cats has been harassing my cats, and I’m wondering if perhaps they were your cats?” It wasn’t a great opening, but he thought it was best to get straight to the point.
“My cats? Oh, you can’t mean my little darlings! Come on in and I’ll introduce you to the crew.” She held the door open and Jay entered into a foyer that opened into a cozy living room. The furniture was comfortably old and there knick-knacks on every available surface. Most of them featured cats. He could see several cats lounging on the rug, and none of them looked particularly dangerous. On the other hand, three of them did look like the cats that had attacked Fuzzy.
“Here they are. They are the dearest cats possible. They barely fight among themselves, much less fight with any other cats. The brown tabby is Mr. Snuggles, the calico is Ladybug Delight (but I just call her Ladybug), the black and white is Snoogums, and the all white one is Fluffy Bunny. Aren’t they adorable?” She went to each cat as she named it, patting heads and fluffing their fur.
“They are rather attractive cats, but they do look like the ones I saw in my yard. Have they been outside a lot since you moved in?” Jay couldn’t figure out how he could convince this woman that her cuddly kitties were monsters. Then again, with names like those, they might have gone the cat equivalent of postal.
“Well, they have been out quite a bit, but I figure they’re just exploring their new neighborhood. I can’t see making cats stay inside all the time. They enjoy roaming the woods so much. That’s one of the reasons we bought this house.” She went to Mr. Snuggles, picked him up and rubbed his face against hers. “You’re Mommy’s little sweetie, aren’t you Mr. Snuggles?” The cat looked a bit disgusted, but rubbed his face against hers.
“Maybe my cats are just trying to get to know the other cats in the neighborhood and they’re fighting back. I can’t imagine them being mean to anyone. There were lots of cats where we lived before and they all got along beautifully. Can I offer you a glass of tea?” She put Mr. Snuggles down and gestured for Jay to sit.
“Thank you, I’d like one.” She got the tea for Jay and they spent a pleasant ten minutes discussing the town of Jackson and their cats.
“Well, I need to get back to work. It was nice to meet you. Your cats are charming; I hope I was mistaken about them.” Jay got out of the house and shook his head as he got in his truck. Who would ever give such silly names to cats? Well, Peep wasn’t a particularly serious name, but Peep did, well, peep. Her single meow sounded very much like the peep of a baby chick.
Jay went home and found the three cats sitting in the living room. “Well, I found those cats, and you won’t believe their names. Mr. Snuggles, Ladybug Delight, Snoogums and Fluffy Bunny. Oh, and Ladybug Delight is usually just called Ladybug. I guess Fluffy Bunny is called by her full name, because she didn’t say that she was just Fluffy or Bunny. The house is just full of cat knick-knacks. China cats, crocheted cats, stone cats, wood cats, you name it. I think she’s a real cat lady. Unfortunately, she didn’t believe that her little darlings could be the ones terrorizing you three. Maybe she’ll at least give them a talking to.” He stroked Peep’s head and went into his office, chucking over the cat names.
The three cats looked at each other. LT spoke first. “I thought the names they told me were a bit odd for people to give cats, well at least nice people. Scratch, Claw, Gouger and Shred. Nope, they’re Fluffy Bunny, Snoogums, Mr. Snuggles and Ladybug Delight.” LT just sat there and giggled. “How about when it stops raining we all go sit in the woods and call them by their real names?”
Rudy looked eager, but Peep was a bit skeptical. “I don’t know about that. It might just make them angrier, if we know what their person calls them.”
“Oh, I don’t know. If my name was Snoogums or Fluffy Bunny, I’d be too ashamed to show my face in public!” LT just kept giggling.
“Well, my name is Peep, and that’s a soft, silly name. I’m not afraid to show my face, because the Daddy gave me that name, and I love the Daddy!” Peep stood up in his defense and looked sternly at LT.
LT backed down quickly. “Your name isn’t silly. It just describes how the people hear you when you talk. You have a quiet voice and it’s got a very sweet sound, like a chick.” This mollified Peep somewhat, and they waited for the rain to stop.
Late in the afternoon the sun came out, and all three cats headed for the woods. They sat down and waited. After further consideration, they decided that it would be too much to go calling the silly names. They’d just wait and see what happened.
It wasn’t long before the four new cats approached. They didn’t look mean this time, and in fact they looked a little ashamed. The tabby spoke first. “Well, I guess your owner told you what she calls us since you’re all out here. Sorry. It’s really hard being called those…names.” The tabby shuddered.
“Well, do you really call yourself Scratch?” asked LT. If you want us to call you some other name we can, but Scratch is just as silly as whatever your name is.”
The tabby looked amazed. “You mean you don’t know our names?”
“Well, I know what all the names are, and can guess that you’re not Fluffy Bunny, but that’s about as far as I know.” LT decided to play it cool.
“Oh. I’m Mr. Snuggles. Ahh, what the heck. Just don’t call the white cat Fluffy Bunny. She prefers Bunny. Forgive us?” The tabby lay down in a submissive posture.
“No problem from us. I can’t speak for Fuzzy – I think he’s a bit defensive about his name himself. Friends?” LT walked over and began grooming the tabby’s head.
“Friends,” all seven cats said in unison.