The Tale of Miss Kitty Cat
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Miss Kitty Cat is a great hunter, and the farm rats and mice are on the farm are on the menu. Everyone is terrified of Miss Kitty, and she's definitely not very popular. Still, she has a unique talent useful to the entire farm. What's so special about Miss Kitty? Read The Tale of Miss Kitty Cat by Arthur Scott Bailey to discover what becomes of Miss Kitty and the farm.

The Tale of Miss Kitty Cat

Arthur Scott Bailey

The Tale of Miss Kitty Cat

I. A Terrible Person

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.

II. Dog Spots Plans

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!”

Old dog Spot tucked his tail between his legs and crept through the doorway, keeping one eye on the broom that Mrs. Green held in her hand. And as soon as he was safely outside he gave two or three sharp yelps, telling Miss Kitty Cat that he would watch for her the very first time she set foot in the yard.

Somehow Miss Kitty Cat wasn’t specially worried. She knew a thing or two about dogs; and she didn’t intend to let old Spot bully her. It took her a few minutes to get over her anger. And then she came out from beneath the table and lapped up the milk that Mrs. Green had set temptingly on the floor, in a saucer.

When Miss Kitty had finished her meal she washed her face — a duty that she performed with great care, for she prided herself on always looking neat.

Watching her, no one would ever have guessed what was in her mind. “I’d like to wash that dog’s face for him!” Miss Kitty was saying to herself. “He’d have some reason then for yelping and whining.”

Having completed her toilet Miss Kitty jumped into a chair that stood in the sunshine, near a window. And there she composed herself for a nap. When she was well fed and well warmed she liked nothing better than to curl herself up and doze and dream.

Meanwhile old dog Spot was telling everybody in the farmyard about the new cat and the fun he intended to have with her.

“There’ll be lively times around here when she comes outside the house,” he chuckled.

III. Chasing Miss Kitty

When Miss Kitty Cat awoke from her nap she got up and stretched herself. In her opinion, a nap was no nap at all if one didn’t stretch after taking it. “There’s nothing like a good stretch to make a person limber,” she often remarked.

Of course, in order to climb trees, or spring successfully at a rat or a mouse, Miss Kitty had to keep her muscles supple. And since it happened, now and then, that others jumped unexpectedly at her, she believed in always being ready either to chase or to be chased.

After she had smoothed her fur to suit her, Miss Kitty went to the door and mewed patiently until Farmer Green’s wife opened it. Then Miss Kitty Cat slipped out of the kitchen and found herself in the woodshed. A highly interesting place, it seemed to her, with any number of crannies to offer lurking-places for mice. She decided at once that the woodshed would be a fine spot in which to hunt in stormy weather.

Feeling much pleased with her new home, Miss Kitty hopped down upon the great flat stone that served as a step from the woodshed to the ground. She couldn’t help thinking, as she sat there, what a pleasant yard Farmer Green had. She noticed that there were trees enough about the farmhouse to furnish homes for plenty of birds.

And if there was one thing that Miss Kitty Cat liked it was to visit birds right where they lived.

Seeing a faint stir in the grass not far away, she began to creep towards it. Miss Kitty had found that it paid to look into such things. Often she had surprised a meadow mouse in just that way.

This time, however, it was Miss Kitty Cat herself that was surprised. She was so intent on her own important business that she never took her eyes off that spot where the grass had moved. And that was why she didn’t see old dog Spot when he stuck his nose around a corner of the farmhouse.

Now, Spot’s ways were quite different from Miss Kitty’s. Whenever he set out on a hunt he never could keep still. So the moment he caught sight of Miss Kitty Cat he gave a joyful bark. At the same time he bounded towards her.

Of course Spot’s yelps warned her to run. The moment she heard his first bark she forgot all about her own hunt, being herself the hunted. She scurried off across the farmyard, with Spot tearing after her.

If she had had time enough Miss Kitty would have climbed a tree. But Spot was altogether too near her for that. And being a stranger about the farmyard, she hadn’t learned all the fine hiding places. Since Spot was between her and the house, she made for the barn and sprang through the open door. Inside Spot quickly cornered her.

With her back arched and her tail almost as big as Tommy Fox’s brush, Miss Kitty Cat turned and faced her pursuer.

IV. A Tender Nose

“Hurrah!” old dog Spot barked. At least, what he said sounded a good deal like that.

He had cornered Miss Kitty Cat in the barn. And there was nothing he liked more than teasing anybody that was short-tempered as she was.

Tchah! Miss Kitty hissed.

Now, that ought to have been warning enough to Spot to keep a good, safe distance from her. But he was one of the sort that never knows enough to take a warning for what it is worth.

“Wow!” he chuckled. “You needn’t think I’m afraid of you. If you ran from me once, you’ll run again.”

He didn’t intend to hurt Miss Kitty. All he wanted was to get her to run across the yard again, so that he might have the sport of chasing her. So he edged nearer and nearer her, thinking that she would dodge past him and run out of the barn.

But Miss Kitty Cat had no relish for that sport.

“Keep your distance, sir!” she cried. And though she spoke plainly enough, old Spot paid no heed to her words. Instead, he gave a quick spring at her, just to worry her a bit more.

To his great surprise, almost at that same instant Miss Kitty Cat sprang at him. And as she jumped, she flashed one of her paws out and struck Spot on one side of his long nose.

It was not just a gentle tap with a soft, well-padded paw. She thrust her claws well out from between her toes. And jabbing them deep into Spot’s tender nose, she gave a sharp downward pull.

All at once old dog Spot thought of the time when, as a puppy, he stuck his nose into a hornet’s nest. His joyful bark changed suddenly to a shrill ki-yi of pain. And at the same time he became angry.

“You don’t know how to have fun,” he growled at Miss Kitty Cat. “Just to teach you better manners I’m going to take you by the back of your neck and shake you.”

It appeared that Miss Kitty herself had quite a different notion. At least, she went through an entirely different motion, which was not at all like offering the back of her neck for old Spot to seize. When Spot reached for her she clawed him furiously, with one paw after another, while she told him what she thought of him.

He did not wait to hear everything that Miss Kitty had to say to him. Spot thought too much of his nose to linger in the barn any longer, but turned tail and hurried into the yard.

Miss Kitty Cat chased him as far as the door. Taking one quick backward glance at her as he went, Spot noticed how fiercely her eyes glared. It was a terrible sight. And it made him hasten all the faster.

“My goodness! What a temper!” he said under his breath.

Loping across the farmyard, he looked about him uneasily. He hoped nobody had seen Miss Kitty Cat driving him out of the barn. He knew it would be a hard matter to explain to any one. All his farmyard friends would be sure to think it a great joke.

Luckily there was no one in sight except Henrietta Hen.

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