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STRAPS THE CAT
STRAPS THE CAT
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A STORY BY CLAUDIA LEWIS
ILLUSTRATED BY CORNELIS RUHTENBERG
NEW YORK: WILLIAM R. SCOTT, INC., PUBLISHER
For The Girl Who Loved Straps
COPYRIGHT MCMLVII BY CLAUDIA LEWIS
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 57-5553
MADE IN U.S.A.
Table of Contents
A Good Name For An Uncanny Cat 7
Like A Man Eating Spaghetti 19
Earless And The Milk 29
Guarding The Birds 43
Saturday Afternoon Game 61
Wild With Joy 75
The Tiger In The House 89
Sleeping Places 99
The Adventure 115
A Good Name
For An Uncanny Cat
Now once there was a cat named Straps.
"Straps?" you say. "That's no name for
a cat. Nonsense."
But it was the name of this cat, and it
was a good name and a right name. You
Did he wear straps? Oh no, of course
not! He only wore the grey striped fur he
was born in.
Did people beat him with straps?
Land o'goodness, no! A cat with such
a personality! The people he lived with
loved him, strange as he was. You will
see. He was strange.
Well, then, why was he called Straps?
All right, I will tell you. You won't
believe it, but you had better believe
it, because it's true.
He ate straps-the little cloth straps
on a lady's slips.
You think I am making this up?
You think I am just trying to tell you
a ridiculous story?
No, I am not.
Now this is how it happened. One day
the Lady of the house washed her clothes
and ironed them. When she had ironed
her slips and blouses, she folded them
and laid them on her bed. She planned
to put them away in the bureau drawers
Then she went about her business in
other rooms of the house.
Now remember, the cat of this house
had no name yet, for he was a new cat.
No one called him Straps. No one called
him anything but Kitty, or The Cat.
Every day when the Girl of the house
came home from school, she would say to
the Lady, "What shall we name this cat?
He must have a name that fits him."
Now this Girl of the house had had
many cats before, cats with fine names
like Gooseberry and Garibaldi and
Paulus. She was waiting to name this
new cat of hers. She was waiting for
the right name.
Good names like Gooseberry and
Garibaldi and Paulus do not come to
one's mind as easily as raindrops fall
from the sky. It takes time.
But we're wandering away from those
clean, ironed slips lying on the bed.
Remember them? There they lie. The
Lady of the house has gone out of the
room. The Girl of the house is at
Now here comes the cat. He walks
into the bedroom. He is just walking,
exploring around. He jumps up on the
bed and steps with his soft feet onto
the clean ironed slips and blouses. He
likes the silky feeling.
He nestles down on the bed, and
reaches out his paws and starts to paw
at the slips. He finds the cloth straps
that go across the shoulders. They are
little. He can get them into his mouth,
and can bite and pull on them without
He likes the taste of freshly-washed
cloth. He bites and tears on the little
straps. He chews the pieces with his
tiny teeth and eats them.
I cannot tell you why he does this.
He crouches there eating away at
the little straps on the slips, and who
comes to the door of the bedroom and
sees him? Yes, the Lady of the house.
He jumps up at once and leaps under
Of course the Lady is dismayed to
see the straps all torn and eaten off her
slips, but she is more surprised than
angry. Wouldn't you be dumbfounded
if you found a cat on your bed, eating
up your clothes?
"Why Kitty, what kind of a strange
cat are you?" she said. And she was a
little worried for fear that he would be
sick after eating cloth.
But he was not sick. He was never sick,
no matter what he ate-and he did eat
many strange things, from time to time.
You will see.
Now the Lady of the house and the
Girl, and the Man of the house, too,
talked about those straps. They talked
and talked about them and wondered
and wondered about them. And before
they knew it, they were calling the cat
His name grew, just like that. And it
was a good name.
But he might just as well have been
named Wool, or Raisins, or Rubber
Bands, because he liked to eat these
Oh yes, he was a strange, uncanny
cat. A cat with a personality. One cat
in a million. You will see.
Like A Man Eating Spaghetti
Now you are probably wondering, what
kind of people were they, this Lady
and this Girl and this Man. Didn't they
feed their cat good food? Was he hungry
all the time? Is that why he had to eat
such things as straps and wool and raisins
and rubber bands?
Not on your life! If you looked into
the kitchen of this house, you would
see a saucer there on the floor by the
stove, and it is filled with good milk.
It is Straps' saucer, just for him, and
the Lady and the Girl keep it filled
with good milk or other good food for
cats, all of the time.
In the morning they fill the saucer.
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At noon they put the good left-overs
from their lunch there-good meat,
good bread. In the afternoon, if the
saucer is empty, they fill it with milk.
After dinner they fill the saucer with
good left-overs from their dinner-
good food for cats, the kind of food
cats usually like, good meat, good milk.
But Straps says, "No."
He has a strange stomach. He likes the
straps of slips. He likes wool, raisins, and
The Lady of the house has to hide the
rubber bands in a little drawer in her
desk, so that Straps will not jump up
onto the desk and eat them.
She has to hide the raisins, so that he
won't find them and eat them up like a
human being eating chocolate drops.
She has to hide her wool yarn, so
that Straps won't gobble away at it,
like a man eating spaghetti.
One day he found a ball of her rose-
colored wool yarn in the bedroom. It
was just what he wanted.
He took it under the bed with him,
and there in the farthest corner, back
under the bed, he lay down and began
to nibble at the loose end, as if it were
He must have known he shouldn't be
doing this-or why would he have hidden
himself under the bed, just like a child?
Oh, he was a clever cat! Yes, often just
like a child.
The Lady of the house found him and
she saw him eating up her ball of rose-
colored wool yarn. Now she had to have
that rose-colored yarn to mend the Girl's
So she got the broom from the kitchen
and stooped down and swooped it under
the bed. She tried to sweep Straps right
out with it. She had to save that yarn.
Straps tried not to let her sweep him
out. He reached out his claws and tried
to scratch her-just like a little wild
animal, a funny little wild animal in
He wasn't dangerous, understand. He
never really hurt anyone. In fact, he
was a funny sight with his jungle ways,
like a silly little tiger in the house.
You will see later how he acted like a
tiger in the house.
Well, the Lady finally swept him out
from under the bed, and she rescued her
ball of yarn, but she left Straps a little
piece to gnaw on. "Poor funny old
Straps," she thought. "Might as well
let him have some yarn, since nothing
seems to hurt him."
Now isn't it strange? He liked wool
yarn, and raisins, and straps, and
rubber bands. This is queer food for a
cat-just as queer as sand would be for
you, or hay, or bones.
Sometimes Straps drank milk, as other
cats do, but often he just left the milk
standing there in the saucer, while he
went off to hunt for cloth or rubber-
or human beings' food like ice cream
and cake and raisins.
But do you think he would let the
Lady of the house give his milk to
any other cats? No indeed. He was a
jealous cat-a strange, uncanny cat.
Just like a child, just like a human
Now listen to the story of Earless
and the milk.
Earless And The Milk
Earless was another cat who lived in
that neighborhood and often lurked in
the bushes that grew beside Straps' house.
Earless, of course, was a cat who had
no ears. At least, he did not have ears
that stood up in two little points the way
cats' ears usually do.
His ears were just tiny little folded
places like two small shells. They were
so small that he looked as though he had
no ears at all, and that, of course, is why
the Lady and the Girl called him Ear-
less. Perhaps he was born that way. Or
perhaps he lost his ears in a cat fight.
It is hard to tell about these things.
Earless seemed to be just a neighbor-
hood cat, not a house cat. Always he
was lurking around in the bushes beside
One might almost call him a bush cat.
He was always there-peering out,
Are you feeling sorry for him? Poor
old Earless without any ears, lurking in
Don't feel too sorry for him. He was
a rather pathetic sight, to be sure, but
he was a strong, big cat who knew how
to take care of himself, and after all, he
didn't know about his ears.
How could a cat possibly know
whether he had ears or not!
One day the Lady of the house looked
down at Straps' saucer of milk on the
floor by the stove. He hadn't touched it
for hours. Then she looked out of the
kitchen window over the sink. She saw
Earless out there, lurking in the bushes.
"Maybe Earless is hungry," she thought
to herself. She picked up the saucer of
milk and walked out to the back porch
"Earless is a shy cat, always lurking
in those bushes, but maybe I can tempt
him out with this milk. I'll go slowly,
so that I won't scare him away."
She took a few steps, looking the other
way, to make Earless think she was not
bothering about him at all.
Then she set the saucer of milk down
in the grass, where he could see it, and
called him gently with her inimitable
Now I must tell you more about this
inimitable kitty call or you will not be
able to imagine it.
Perhaps you have heard people call
cats before. Perhaps you know how they
say, "Here, kitcy-kitty-kitty."
But the Lady of this house put her
voice up high, high enough for singing,
and when she said, "Here, kitty-kitty-
kitty" the words came so fast that they
sounded like music from a little machine:
In fact, when she said, "Here, kitty-
kitty-kitty-kitty," she made her tongue
go as fast as a kitten's tongue goes when
he laps up milk-and you know how
fast that is!
Oh, you could practice for years and
never say "kitty-kitty-kitty" as fast as the
Lady of this house could say it.
When the Lady went out on the back
porch and called Straps, he always came.
Often he would pay no attention if
the Girl of the house called him in her
"Here, kitty kitty kitty."
Often he would pay no attention if
the Man of the house called him, even
though he called quite rapidly:
"Here, kitty kitty kitty kitty."
But cats always came when the Lady
of the house called them. Gooseberry
always came, and Garibaldi, and Paulus.
All cats loved her kitty call and knew
what it meant. They came running.
Would Earless come?
Gently the Lady of the house put the
saucer of milk down on the grass. Gently
and softly she called, in the fast, pretty
Now Earless, remember, had little
shell-like ears. He could hear.
He stood up!
He stepped out of the bushes!
Gently the Lady of the house called
him again, in a voice like little
She stepped back a few steps, so that
Earless would not be afraid of her.
One step. Two steps. Slowly, out of
the bushes, peering around, slowly
toward that saucer of milk, step, step,
The sweet voice called him and the
good milk stood there in the saucer.
Yes, he would be brave, he would leave
He came-he had almost reached the
Who was that springing out, with his
back all arched up and his eyes staring
Who was that springing out and
crouching there between Earless and
the milk, ready to fight?
Oh Straps, you mean, jealous cat!
You don't want that milk, so why not
let Earless have it!
The Lady of the house was disgusted
with him. She picked him up and carried
him to the back door and just dumped
him in the house.
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Earless took a few sips of the milk
and then slunk back into his bushes. He
probably didn't want the milk very much
anyway. He was a bush cat, remember.
But was there any excuse for Straps to
act like that? Jealous and selfish. Just
like a human being. Yes, like a human -
being in many ways.
The Lady of the house, and the Girl
and the Man almost forgot that he was a
They loved him, as if he were another
person in the house.
Now let me tell you another story
about this "person" in the house.
One day a family of baby birds hatched
out in a nest in a tree right in Straps'
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Do you know that baby birds cannot
fly without a little practice? When they
begin practicing, they spend quite a
lot of time down on the grass, and they
can't always fly out of the way quickly
if a dog comes near, or a cat.
A cat-yes, if a cat comes near. You
know, of course, what cat I am referring
to. No doubt about it at all, Straps was
mighty interested in any little baby birds
hopping around in the grass in his back-
Cats go after birds as naturally as
children go after candy. That's just
the way it is.
Now that was quite a problem to the
Lady of the house. She loved the birds
and had no intention of letting Straps
chase them and hurt them.
The Lady was not angry at Straps for
wanting to chase them, because she knew
he couldn't help it any more than he
could help being born with striped fur,
and two pointed little ears, and a
stomach that loved wool and cloth and
"Well," she said to the Girl, "we'll
just have to guard these birds till they
learn how to fly. Straps will have to
stay in the house."
It was Saturday afternoon in the
summertime. The Lady and the Girl
decided to sit out on the grass in
the backyard and guard the birds all
Do you know what it is like in a back-
yard in the summertime? The grass
smells sweet, when it has just been cut.
The trees and bushes are thick with
green, green leaves against the blue
sky. The shady places on the grass are
dark and cool. A little breeze blows,
and keeps the sun from shining down
too hot. Roses and hollyhocks bloom.
The Lady and the Girl brought some
cushions out to the shady places in the
backyard, and books, and tall glasses of
cool lemonade. Doesn't that sound like
a lovely afternoon-with the new baby
birds hopping and flopping around in
They put Straps in the house, and
settled down to guard the birds.
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Of course, Earless was lurking
in the bushes as usual, but he never
bothered the birds. He was just one
of those cats who wouldn't leave his
bushes, even for birds.
Now I have just said that the Lady
and the Girl put Straps in the house.
But it was not as simple as that-no,
not by any means! The story is just
For Straps, as I have said, was like
a human being.
He did not want to stay alone in the
house, when the Lady and the Girl were
out in the cool backyard, watching the
birds, and drinking the lemonade, and
smelling the sweet grass and the sweet
Straps always wanted to be where the
rest of the people were.
Now he was determined to find a way
out. I warn you, he was a very clever cat.
First he just ran to the bedroom
window and looked out at the Lady
and the Girl.
Then he ran to the bathroom window
and looked out. Then to the kitchen
"Poor Straps," the Lady and the Girl
said, when they saw him looking out of
the windows. "He's trying to get out.
But he'll soon find that he can't, and
then maybe he'll just lie down and take
But not Straps!
They heard him scratching at the
"Oh, he won't get out," the Lady
said. "I closed the kitchen door
tight and locked the screen on the
You see, it was necessary to lock
screen doors. Straps was a very clever
cat. He could open unlocked screen
doors, even if they opened inward.
They were just as easy for him to open
as for you or for me.
"Pooh!" he'd say, and just take his
little paw like a hand and pull the door
"Oh no," the Lady said. "He won't
get out. I closed all the windows and
locked the screen doors. How could he
So she read her book and drank her
lemonade, and the Girl drank her lemon-
ade and guarded the birds.
Pretty soon they forgot all about
Straps. They thought he had stopped
looking out of windows and scratching
on doors. They thought he was taking
What do you think? Was he asleep-a
cat who loved the Lady and the Girl and
wanted to be out in the backyard with
Of course he was not asleep. He was
prowling around inside of that house,
hunting for little openings, looking for
cracks where he might squeeze through.
Can't you see him crawling around at
the bottoms of all the doors, reaching
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out his paws to try to pull them open,
flattening down his body to try to
squeeze under? Can't you see him
jumping up on every window sill, to
try the windows?
Do you think maybe he even tried
to crawl up the fireplace chimney? I
wouldn't be surprised, but still I don't
think he actually thought of that!
Well now, did he find a way out or
Yes, he did!
The Lady was sipping her lemonade
and the Girl was lolling under a tree,
guarding the birds when ...
Lickety split! Flash! Dash!
A cat tore across the backyard and
leaped up on the fence and disappeared
Of course it was Straps.
"For goodness sake!" the Lady said.
She jumped up. "Run after him and
catch him if you can," she said to the
Girl. Then she went into the house
to find out how on earth Straps got
Was it through the screen door? No,
because it really was locked tight.
Did he tear a hole in the screen?
No, his claws weren't sharp enough
and strong enough for that.
Was there any window in the house
left open just an inch? Any window any-
The Lady went from the bedroom to
the bathroom to the kitchen. All the
windows tight shut. Then to the dining
room. All the windows tight shut.
"Oh, this uncanny cat," she muttered.
Then she went to the living room.
Ah, there it was.
In the living room there were some
little windows over the couch-windows
that open by being pushed out, not the
kind that slide up and down.
Straps had jumped up on the couch and
had been able to reach these windows.
He had found one of them that opened
a little bit when he pressed against it. The
Lady had not fastened it tightly shut,
though it looked shut.
Straps could press it open far enough
for him to squeeze through.
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"Oh, that cat!" the Lady said to her-
Just then the Girl came into the
house carrying Straps. She had caught
She sat down in a rocking chair with
a book to read, and she held Straps on
Pretty soon he fell asleep.
And the Lady went back to the yard
by herself, to guard the birds for the rest
of the afternoon.
Saturday Afternoon Game
Now do you think life was always
hard for Straps?
Does it sound as if people were
always shutting him up in the house,
and scolding him, and dumping him
inside doors, and muttering about him?
Oh no. He had a fine life.
Let me tell you about his Saturday
This was not the Saturday afternoon
when the little baby birds were hopping
and flopping around in the grass. This
was another Saturday afternoon later on.
The birds had grown and flown safely
away. Earless was nowhere to be seen-
possibly lurking in someone else's
bushes on this afternoon.
The Man of the house decided to
mow his lawn. Now his lawn mower had
no grass-catcher attached to it. When
he mowed the grass, it simply fell and lay
there like fringe all over the lawn.
When he finished mowing, he had to
take a rake and rake up the cut grass.
He raked a huge pile of it, right in
his front yard.
And where was Straps all this time?
Never mind, I don't know. It is not
quite time for him to come back into
the story yet.
Now you can't leave a great pile of
raked-up grass in your front yard, can
you? Of course not. But the Man had a
He knew what he'd do with the grass.
He went back to his garage where he kept
odds and ends like cardboard cartons.
He picked out a big carton-big
enough for you to sit down in, if you
wanted to-and brought it out to his
His plan, of course, was to fill the
carton with grass and then carry it into
the far corner of his backyard, where
he had a dumping place for old grass
and old leaves.
He began to fill the carton with
great armloads of grass from the big
And now Straps is right in the midst
of the story-because he jumped right
into the midst of the grass pile and
began leaping around and grabbing at
the Man's hands.
"Oh ho," he must have thought, "what
a fine place to play!"
The Man gave him some playful knocks
and went on filling his carton.
"Oh! A great game!" Straps thought,
and, Leap! he jumped right into the
cardboard carton on top of the grass.
Now Straps was used to sitting inside
of cardboard cartons. He thought they
were made for him to sit in.
Whenever he found one, he'd jump
into it, or if it was lying upside down,
he'd crawl under it.
He loved to crawl into things.
If you left a big brown paper bag
lying on the floor, Straps would come
along and just walk into it.
So he thought he belonged in this
cardboard carton full of grass. He
thought it was His Place.
"Come on now, Straps, out you go,"
the Man said. He was ready to carry
the carton to the backyard.
But Straps just sat there in the
carton with no intention of moving-
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sat there smiling, as much as cats can
"Out you go now." The Man reached
out his hand to lift Straps out of the box.
"Oh ho!" thought Straps. "What a
game! Now we'll have a little boxing
So he reached out with his sharp
little claws and batted at the Man's
hand, defending himself. Oh, he was a
good boxer! He didn't let that Man's
hand come anywhere near him.
The Man didn't know what to do.
He couldn't get Straps out of that box
without getting all scratched up.
So he just hoisted up the box of
grass on his shoulder and marched
away to the backyard with it, with
Straps sitting there having the time
of his life.
A little like riding on a hay wagon,
When the Man got to the dumping
place in the backyard, he dumped the
grass, Straps, and all, right out onto the
Can you see the grass flying, and a
bouncing kitten scrambling around in
the midst of it, his legs and tail going
What a game! As much fun as you
would have bouncing around in a snow
pile. Or maybe you would like to bounce
around in a big soft grass pile yourself?
When the Man had finished dumping
one load of grass, he went back to the
front yard to get another load, and of
course Straps raced along ahead of him
and beat him to the grass pile. Into the
carton he leaped again.
"Oh boy! What a game!"
The Man didn't care. He just threw
the grass in all around Straps and then
hoisted up the carton again, and gave
Straps another ride to the backyard.
After all, Straps wasn't heavy, you
know. Not much heavier than a couple
of fistfuls of grass.
The Man walked along whistling the
tune of his favorite song:
"When I was a little boy
I lived by myself,
And all the bread and cheese I had
I kept upon a shelf."
And he gave Straps three rides that
Wild With Joy
Now Straps had other pleasures, too.
And one of them, I would say, was his
greatest joy in life.
It was something he liked so much
that it almost made him turn into a
wild animal for joy.
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I have told you, remember, that
sometimes Straps was like a little wild
animal in the house, a little tiger.
This is one of those times. There is
still another time that I will tell you
Now what would make a cat turn into
a little wild animal for joy?
A toy of some kind? No.
Another cat to play with? No.
Remember, Straps had no use for
Earless but he certainly could have
gotten acquainted with him if he had
wanted to, with Earless lurking around
in the bushes all the time.
A game like riding on the grass?
Did this make him wild with joy? No,
not Straps. He loved this game, but
not that much.
You give up?
Well, I will tell you.
It was a special kind of food, not
straps on slips, not wool or rubber
bands, not ice cream or raisins, but a
kind of food that really is good for
cats, a kind of food that most cats do
But Straps liked it so much that he
simply went wild with joy when the
Lady gave it to him.
A It was raw liver.
Now I'll have to describe this wild
little cat to you, with all his jumping
and scratching and his leaping up like
lightning and dynamite.
But don't worry. Remember, he was
wild with joy, not anger.
Now if you gave him a big piece of
raw liver, without cutting it up first,
he was so crazy for the taste of it that
he would not even wait to tear it apart
with his teeth.
He'd grab it up in his hungry mouth,
and, Glup! swallow it almost whole.
"Mercy!" the Lady said, in amazement,
the first time she saw this. "That can't be
good for him. How did he ever swallow
such a big piece whole? We must cut up
his liver for him."
So the next time she got liver for him
she began to cut it up first, on the kitchen
But Straps was there in the kitchen,
smelling it, and the wild look came into
his eyes, and the wild strength into his
haunches, and up he jumped onto the
kitchen table with a great leap, and
Gobble! Gobble! with his hungry mouth
and teeth, he snapped the liver right
up and swallowed it before the Lady
could move a finger.
You couldn't have stopped him.
You couldn't have brushed him away.
He was like steel, like a strong
little steel animal, shot through with
"Mercy!" the Lady said. "When we
give him liver we'll have to keep him
out on the back porch while we're
cutting it up for him."
So the next time she had liver for him,
she put him on the back porch and
locked the screen door between the
kitchen and the porch.
Then she took the liver out of its
package and started to cut it up.
And what do you think Straps did,
with the delicious smell of that liver
floating through the screen door right
into his little nostrils? Did he sit there
waiting patiently on his haunches?
"Get it! Get it!" That was his only
"Mai-ow! Mai-ow!" he called out,
like a tiger yowling.
There he landed right on the screen
door, his four paws reaching out and
clinging to the screen, spreading out
his body until he looked like a little
bear rug stretched out there.
Scratch! Scratch! He tore at the
"Mercy!" the Lady said. "We'll have
to really shut the doors when we give
him liver. This is terrible. What makes
him so wild? I never saw such a cat!"
So the next time she had liver for
him, she put him out on the back porch
while she cut it up, and she shut the
screen door and the wooden door too.
Then she worked out a careful plan.
How would she keep Straps from jumping
up on her and just pouncing on the whole
plate of liver the minute she stepped out
on the porch?
Quite a problem, wasn't it?
Yes, a cat who gets so wild can be quite
Well, here was her plan.
She took a fork and put one piece of
liver on it.
She held this in one hand.
The plate with the rest of the liver
on it she held in the other hand.
Then the Girl opened the doors for
her, and the Lady stepped out onto the
porch, holding the fork right out to
Straps, and the plate high above her
Snap! Straps grabbed the piece of
liver off the fork.
Glup! He swallowed it, without any
chewing, swallowed it faster than you
could swallow a drop of water.
Quick as a flash the Lady jabbed the
fork into another piece of liver on the
plate, and held it out to Straps. But he
was too quick for her.
He gave a great steel leap up toward
that plate and only missed it by an inch.
When he saw the second piece of liver
on the fork, though, he was content with
The Lady had to stab another piece
In fact, she had to work mighty fast
jabbing liver on the fork, to keep Straps
from leaping up to the plate like a tiger.
But the plan worked. Forkful by fork-
ful, Straps took the liver-
Grab! Glup! Gone!
I must say the Lady was exhausted
when the plate was empty. It is not easy
to feed liver to a cat who acts like a wild
But on the other hand, it was nice to
know that Straps was enjoying himself so
And by this time no one expected him
to act like an ordinary cat.
Now I have said that I would tell you
about another time when he was like a
little tiger in the house, not wild with joy,
but still, just like a little tiger.
We have come to this time.
The Tiger In The House
One afternoon a lady came to visit
with the Lady of the house.
They both sat down in rocking chairs
in the living room, and talked of this
and that, and rocked away.
Suddenly the lady visitor saw Straps
crouching on the floor across the room.
"Well I never!" she said. "What's
the matter with that cat?"
The Lady of the house looked at
Straps, and then she said:
"What on earth! What is the matter
Now the Lady of the house had lived
with Straps for months, yet she had
never seen him like this.
She had seen him crawling into paper
bags, and eating a ball of yarn.
She had seen him wild with joy over
his liver, and fierce with jealousy over
But she had never seen him like this.
He had changed himself into a little
wild jungle animal!
He was crouching there on the floor
as if he were about to spring on another
He had made his body long and low;
his yellow eyes stared and stared ahead
of him, like little pieces of glass with
flashlight batteries behind them.
He dug his claws firmly into the rug;
he got himself into a good crouch
He looked as if he were just waiting
for the other wild animal to make a
move, and then, Spring! he would leap
He was so ready-get-set as he crouched
there, that he looked as if he might spring
all the way to the ceiling, if you touched
just one hair of him.
He was crouching, stalking, like a
little tiger in the jungle.
Now was there another wild animal in
the room? Or was Straps just pretending?
Just making up a game?
No, there was something else in the
"The lady visitor!"
No, you are wrong. Straps was not
looking at this lady visitor. He was not
interested in her. He knew that she was
just a lady.
But he was looking at Something.
His yellow eyes stared and stared at
it-something on the floor beside the
lady visitor's chair.
Had she brought another kitten into
the room with her? Or a dog?
Had Earless slipped in through an
Had a bird flown in?
Oh no. There were no animals, no
birds or beasts in the room.
But there was something that Straps
thought was an animal, a strange and
wild jungle animal, there on the floor
by the rocking chair. It was ....
Only the lady visitor's pocketbook,
a new leather pocketbook with a nice
Now do you think Straps was very
stupid indeed to mistake this leather
pocketbook for a wild jungle animal?
No, he was not stupid. As a matter
of fact, he was astonishingly clever.
For you know, don't you, that leather
comes from the skin of an animal?
Is it any wonder that he thought the
strong and strange leather smell was the
smell of a strong and strange jungle
"Poor Straps, you are very clever,
but for once you are working yourself
all up over nothing," the Lady said.
"Come, come, calm down!"
The lady visitor and the Lady of
the house could not help but laugh
at Straps, yet still they felt a little
sorry to see him going through all
these jungle antics so needlessly.
There was no jungle in the room;
there was no wild animal beside the
chair; and yet they couldn't explain
this to Straps, much as they wanted to.
Straps did not relax and turn him-
self back into a house cat again until
the lady visitor picked up her pocket-
book and went home.
Then he was sure that he had won,
and he got up and wandered into the
kitchen to look for some raisins, no
I .,, 1-. I eI 1
Now I don't want you to get the
Straps was a strange, uncanny cat,
but most of the time he did not act like
a tiger in the house.
Most of the time he acted more or
less like other cats.
If you will stop to think about cats,
you will realize that they love to sleep
in the daytime. Almost any time of day
you can find a cat sleeping somewhere,
his four paws tucked under him and
his tail curled around.
Now Straps, too, loved to sleep in
the daytime. In this way he was just
like any other cat.
Yet I must say there was one strange
thing even about his sleeping.
He almost never slept in the usual
cat position, flattened down against
the floor, with his four paws tucked