The rats and the mice thought that Miss Kitty Cat was a terrible person. She was altogether too fond of hunting them. They agreed, however, that in one way it was pleasant to have her about the farmhouse. When she washed her face, while sitting on the doorsteps, they knew — so they said! — that it was going to rain. And then Mrs. Rat never would let her husband leave home without taking his umbrella.
As a rule Miss Kitty Cat didn’t look at all frightful. Almost always she appeared quite unruffled, going about her business in a quiet way and making no fuss over anything. Of course when old dog Spot chased — and cornered — her, she was quite a different sort of creature. Then she arched her back, puffed her tail out to twice its usual size, and spat fiercely at Spot. He learned not to get within reach of her sharp claws, when she behaved in that fashion. For old Spot had a tender nose. And no one knew it better than Miss Kitty Cat.
Around the farmhouse she was politeness itself — when there was anybody to observe her. If her meals were late she never clamored, as Johnnie Green sometimes did. To be sure, she might remind Mrs. Green gently, by plaintive mewing, that she had not had her saucer of milk. But she was always careful not to be rude about it. And though Miss Kitty liked a warm place in winter, she never crowded anybody else away from the fire. She crept under the kitchen range, where no one else cared to sit. And there she would doze by the hour — especially after she had enjoyed a hearty meal.
On summer nights, however, when she loved to hunt out of doors, Miss Kitty Cat was far from appearing sleepy. She roamed about the fields, or crept through the tree-tops with a stealthy tread and a tigerish working of her tail. Folk smaller than Miss Kitty never cared to meet her at such times. They knew that she would spring upon them if she had a chance. So they took good care to keep out of her way. And if they caught sight of her when she had her hunting manner they always gave the alarm in their own fashion, warning their friends to beware of the monster Miss Kitty Cat, because she was abroad and in a dangerous mood.
Johnnie Green liked Miss Kitty. Often she would come to him and rub against him and purr, fairly begging him to stroke her back. Unless he pulled her tail at such times she kept her claws carefully out of sight and basked under Johnnie’s petting.
If he had been her size and she had been his, Miss Kitty Cat might not have been so harmless. She might have played with Johnnie, as she sometimes played with a mouse. But Johnnie Green never stopped to think of anything like that. And if he had, he would have thought it a great joke. He would have laughed at the idea of Miss Kitty Cat holding him beneath her paw.
Somehow old dog Spot and Miss Kitty Cat never became good friends. By the time Miss Kitty Cat arrived on the farm in Pleasant Valley Spot had lived there several years.
From the first day he met Miss Kitty in the kitchen Spot hadn’t liked her. Yet he claimed at the time that he was glad to see her. He said that he could tell at once that he was going to have great sport with her. He knew it would be fun to chase her!
Inside the farmhouse old Spot was careful how he behaved. The moment Miss Kitty first set eyes on him she scurried under the table, where she crouched and glared at him. That was scarcely what you might call a friendly greeting. And Spot would have barked at her had he dared.
Since he didn’t, he only whined a bit through his nose. You couldn’t have told what he meant by the sound.
Miss Kitty Cat didn’t like his whining. She even opened her mouth wide and said as much. She made an odd hissing noise, which amused old Spot greatly. And he told Miss Kitty, in what was almost a growl (except that it wasn’t loud enough for one), “Wait till I catch you out of doors, my lady! I’ll have some fun with you.”
Then Farmer Green’s wife opened the door and told Spot to be gone.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself — ” she scolded — “teasing a poor little cat!”