10

How Dogs Solved the Cat Food Crisis

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We got a very unusual call recently. It was from a human. We almost never hear from humans; most of them assume we are a foreign-language publication. A very nice lady said that some neighborhood cats were very sick. The veterinarian said that it was probably just a virus.

The lady and her friends think it is a new food that they got for their furry friends. It’s supposed to have a special additive that would improve their immune systems. It’s called “Cat Power”. She wanted to know if there was a way for us to check it out. Our editor George said we would see what we could find out.

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We put one of our best reporters, Penelope Porcine, on the case. She discovered that “Cat Power” is sent out by a large distributor in the U.S. There was no information about who actually made the food. She decided to talk to the distributor. The closest distribution center is in the middle of the state.

Penelope drove up to Livingston and found the plant. She called, but only got a recording. She tried to see someone in person (so to speak). There was only one entrance, and it was guarded by a very large German Shepherd. The German Shepherd refused to talk to her. He said he couldn’t speak pig.

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Penelope decided that we needed to find a German Shepherd of our own to help. Not having one on staff, we thought it would be best to recruit one locally. It was a small town; they might even know the guard.

We posted a notice: “Looking for a German Shepherd. Temporary assignment. Must be fluent in several animal languages. The position requires persistence and a persuasive personality. Compensation will be discussed if you are called for an interview.”

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Apparently there is a shortage of positions for German Shepherds in Livingston. We immediately received more than 20 responses. Some of them we could delete right away:

“Speak several dialects: Pekinese, Beagle, and Chow. Have trouble communicating with other species. Once I misunderstood a mynah bird and ate him.”

“Experience speaking with other animals. Would prefer it not be any animals that I might consider as toys. Especially cats or squirrels.”

“I am qualified for your position. Compensation must include both kibble and meats of my choosing.”

We interviewed three candidates. We hired a wonderful dog named Lexi. She has a gentle disposition but is a very determined manner. Lexi speaks flawless pig, cat, mouse and hedgehog as well as a variety of dog dialects.

Penelope explained the situation to Lexi, telling her that we needed to find out where the food came from. Lexi was appalled and thought that humans had to be involved. She promised to call Penelope the next day after she had spoken with the guard.

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The next day Lexi said that she needed to meet with Penelope in person to tell her what the guard had said. Penelope wondered what could be so important that it couldn’t be told over the phone.

When she arrived at the restaurant, Penelope discovered that Lexi had two other German Shepherds with her. She hoped they were friendly. Three large dogs were a little intimidating.

The dogs patrolled inside the plant. The place was full of humans, but none of them had anything to do with making the food. The cans came in huge crates that the humans opened and put on conveyor belts. At the end of the belts were trucks that delivered the “Cat Power” and other foods to the stores.

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Penelope asked if they had any idea where the food came from. One of the dogs, Brutus, said that the crates were written in Shar-Pei. Brutus said that he hoped Shar-Pei’s were only clerks and not actually involved in poisoning anyone.

Penelope thanked Brutus and his friend. She bought dinner in appreciation. They said they had never met such a nice pig. Or any pig, for that matter.

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Later Lexi told Penelope that she had done further research on Shar-Pei’s and discovered that they specialize as guard dogs in Guangzhou, in southern China. She had also learned that there were two factories that made cat food in Guangzhou, both of them owned by the same company.

To be continued

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10

Davy Kitten, Superstar

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Davy Kitten fell asleep after his mother had read him several stories from his favorite book, 100 Cats Who Changed Civilization by Sam Stall. He began to dream about a beautiful cat. Her name was Colette. She told him that any cat as good-looking as he was should be a model. Davy blushed.

Colette told Davy to follow her. They went into a building and down a long hall. Davy was a little frightened. What if she was taking him to some big dogs who were going to eat him? He was afraid of dogs. Finally Colette slid through a crack into a large bright room.

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“Ah, Colette! You found me a model for my cat beds! He will be purrfect.” The man picked up Davy and cuddled him. Davy began to purr and rub his head against the man’s face.

“Now, little one, all you have to do is lay in my beds and pretend to sleep. I will take pictures. You will be famous! And so will my beds.” Davy curled up in several of them. Finally, the man was done.

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Davy went home with the man, whose name was Bob. Bob gave Davy good food and a nice warm bed. Shortly after, Bob showed him a magazine with Davy’s picture in it. Davy thought that he actually did look pretty good. He purred at Bob.

Bob’s phone rang. He talked for a few minutes. Then he told Davy, “You won’t believe it! That was Mon Cheri Cat Food. They want you to be their spokescat. What do you think about that?” Davy wasn’t sure; he didn’t know what a spokescat was. He didn’t speak human.

They went to the Mon Cheri offices. The studio was huge. There were all types of rooms for Davy to wander through. Finally they showed him the food they wanted him to sell. “Eww! That’s awful! I can’t eat that.”

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Bob picked up Davy. “You don’t have to really eat it. It’s all pretend. I’ll see if they have another flavor.” They put another bowl in front of Davy. That one was yummy. Davy ate it all as the people took the pictures.

The cat food ads were a huge success. Davy began to get fan mail. They took pictures of him, made him put his paw in something gooey and press it on the picture. His fans loved it.

Finally the cat food people decided that he needed to go on tour. Davy didn’t like to travel. Bob said he’d be right beside him, so Davy agreed to go. He had a big bus with his picture on the side. Bob made him a special bed for the trip. Davy thought it might not be so bad.

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At the first stop, they put a harness on Davy and took him out to meet his fans. Davy had never heard so much noise. And they all tried to touch him! Nobody had said anything about sticky fingers in his beautiful fur.

The fans adored him and the tour continued. In California, he was set up with a cameo in a movie. They gave him a bath in some kind of stinky soap and blew his coat dry. He looked in the mirror. He was a ball of fur. He went on the set. There were so many people. And they all wanted to touch him.

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Davy couldn’t take it anymore. He ran away from Bob and out the door. Outside there were more people who wanted to grab him. He couldn’t get away.

“Davy! Over here! Davy! Davy!

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Davy felt someone pushing him. He opened his eyes. It was Mama!

“Mama, I had the worst dream! There were humans everywhere and they all wanted to touch me. I couldn’t get away. I never want to be a famous cat. It was terrible!”

Mama snuggled Davy next to her and started to groom him. She decided to read about historical cats that night.

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10

Clarice Kitten and the Dangerous Noms – Part 2

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So far – Clarice Kitten, who lives in the forest, got curious about some “noms” a woman offered her. Unfortunately, the woman used the food to trap Clarice and take her to the vet. Now the adults are trying to get her out. You can read the details here.

The three cats ran up to the house. They found Clarice asleep on a pillow on a back porch. There were screens around the porch and a screen door. Frank jumped onto one of the screens and looked in.

Frank (whispering): Clarice, wake up. We’re here to help. Wake up.

Clarice woke up and looked around. She ran to the window when she saw Frank. She started crying and tried to tell him what happened to her.

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Frank: Shhh. You need to be quiet so you don’t wake the humans. We want to get you out of there.

Clarice: Please get me out. I hate it here.

Frank: OK, your parents are out there. Let me talk to them and we’ll figure something out.

Clarice: Hurry! They want to spray me and give me to some humans. I want to be with you.

Frank: It’s OK. Try to be calm.  I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.

Frank jumped down. The three cats went back to the edge of the woods to try and come up with a solution.

Kate: How is she?

Frank: She’s fine, but scared. She says they want to spray her and give her to some humans.

Kate: Spray her? With what?

Tom: No human is going to take my kitten! What are we going to do?

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Frank: I don’t see any way in. I don’t think we can get through the screens without waking up the human.

Katie: Then we need to get her out the same way she got in.

Frank: What’s that?

Katie: The human has to let her go.

Tom: Do you have an idea?

Katie: Maybe. She saw me earlier, so she might expect me to come back.

Tom: Great. So you’re going to let her get you too?

Frank: I don’t think we have to get inside. I think we need to get the human to open the door to let Clarice out.

Tom: OK. So how do we do that?

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Frank: Katie can go up to the house and start crying. Hopefully the human come outside to see what is going on and open the door. Clarice needs to be ready to race out the door when that happens.

Kate: I guess it’s worth a try. Go tell Clarice the plan.

Frank climbed back up and told Clarice to be ready to run if the woman opened the door to see what was going on outside. Clarice hid under a chair by the door and waited.

Frank: OK, Kate. Let’s try it.

Kate sat outside the porch and cried and cried. Clarice began to cry too. Frank and Tom waited. And waited. Nothing happened.

Frank: It’s not working.

Tom: I have an idea.

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He let out a yowl and ran toward the house. Frank followed. Tom turned and hissed at him. They started to circle each other and growl. Soon they were hissing and spitting. It turned into a full cat fight. Finally a light came on in the house. The woman came to the porch.

Woman: What on earth is going on out there?

Kate continued to cry, and the male cats were fighting loudly.

Woman: For goodness sake, be quiet!

No one was really paying attention to her, except Clarice, when she opened the door. Clarice raced out and ran to her mother. Kate saw her.

Kate: Run, Clarice!

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Kate took off after Clarice. Tom and Frank were still at each other when the girls ran by. Kate came back.

Kate: Get going! She’ll come out if you two don’t quiet down.

The three adult cats raced into the woods. They found Clarice. When she saw her mother she started crying again. Kate licked her and calmed her down. They headed for home. The two male cats looked at each other.

Frank: What was that all about?

Tom: It was the only way I could think of to make more noise. No hard feelings?

Frank sat down and bathed himself. After finding no damage from the fight, he calmed down.

Frank: I guess I understand. But next time, let me know what’s going on. I could have killed you.

Tom: Not much danger of that.

They looked at each other again and started walking home.

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11

Clarice Kitten and the Dangerous Noms

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Tom and Kate lived in a nice section of the forest with a group of other cats. There were humans close by, but otherwise the location was perfect. Lots of food and a clear stream. One day, they had a litter of kittens.

They were typical kittens, playful and curious. One kitten in particular, Clarice, was into everything. One day, she ran home, all excited.

Clarice: Guess what! I discovered a different kind of food!

Kate: Really dear? And what is that?

Clarice: I’m not sure. But it’s really yummy!

Kate: Why don’t you show me this food. Maybe I’ll know what it is.

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Clarice led Kate to where she had found the food. It was at the edge of the woods near a house. She pointed to an old log.

Clarice: It came from under there.

Kate: What did it look like?

Clarice: It was small and furry. It had a long tail and sharp teeth.

Since that described the majority of the food Kate had been teaching Clarice to catch, the description wasn’t very helpful.

Kate: I guess I’ll have to see one to let you know. But you need to find one closer to home. This is too close to the humans. They might see you.

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Clarice: What’s wrong with that? Will they hurt me?

Kate: You’re such a beautiful kitten, they might want you to live with them instead of here with us.

Clarice didn’t understand why her mother would care about that. Of course Clarice would never leave her family. Then she heard a strange sound. Her mother became fully alert.

Human: Oh look. The pretty kitty came back! And she brought a friend! Wait right there and I’ll bring you a treat.

Kate was horrified. She had been right. Clarice had gone too close to the humans, and now the woman had seen both of them. Before she could tell Clarice to run, the woman was back.

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Woman: Here kitty, kitty. You must be hungry. Look at the tasty noms I brought you.

Kate was offended. How dare that woman imply that she let her kittens go hungry. But Clarice was fascinated.

Clarice: Mama, what’s a nom? Maybe it’s one of the animals I caught earlier. Let’s go see.

Kate: Clarice! Run!

Kate raced back into the woods. Clarice was confused, but ran after her. When they reached home, Kate finally stopped to explain.

Kate: Clarice, you can’t ever go back there. Noms are what humans call the food they use to try to catch cats.

Clarice: Why would they want to catch cats?

Kate: I’m not sure, but we’ve lost a few neighbors that way. And they particularly like kittens.

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Clarice went to bed soon after the conversation. She had nightmares about humans chasing her. In the morning, she vowed to never go near the humans again.

But soon her curiosity got the better of her and she went to the edge of the forest. After a couple of days, the woman saw her again. The next day, there was a bowl of food just out of the forest. Clarice tried it. It was delicious. She ran home.

Clarice: Mama! Mama! I knew you were wrong!

Kate: Clarice! What are you talking about?

Clarice: The human! She left food out and it was delicious. And she didn’t come near me.

Kate: I told you not to go near the humans.

Clarice: It’s OK. She won’t hurt me.

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A few days later, Kate heard a terrible yowling and crying. She ran to the edge of the woods in time to see the human pick up a cage with Clarice in it. She watched in horror as Clarice was carried into the house. All night, the cats could hear Clarice crying.

In the morning, Kate watched as the human carried Clarice’s cage and put it in some kind of machine. The human got in too, and they disappeared. Kate sat there for hours wondering where they had taken her kitten.

Finally, the machine returned. Kate was relieved to find out that the woman had brought Clarice back. Clarice was still crying, but she sounded tired. Kate ran back to the other cats, determined to find a way to rescue her kitten.

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Kate: They still have Clarice. We have to save her.

Tom: How are we supposed to do that?

Kate: I don’t know. But we have to do something. Let’s ask Frank. He knows a lot about humans. He can help us.

Kate and Tom found Tom, and Kate explained what has happened to Clarice. Frank listened with a worried expression.

Frank: That’s terrible. You know, the humans think they know more than we do about what is best for our kittens. Let’s go see what we can do.

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To be continued…

(Ed. note – Cat Forum with Alberto from Feline Opines was supposed to run next week. However, Clarice’s story turned out to be longer than we expected. Not to worry. Alberto will get his full say in two weeks – August 19)

all pictures courtesy of Google Images

18

A Kitten of Great Price – Conclusion

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By archy cockroach and mehitabel cat, City Desk

You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

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We saw a long building with three pens attached. In the first one, there were probably 8 adult cats, male and female. The second pen had pregnant females, and the third had nursing mothers with kittens. They had access to the building for shelter, but couldn’t roam free.

mehitabel immediately went up to the first pen and started talking to the cats. He noticed that they were all beautiful long-hairs. Strangely enough, the males all appeared to be Angora and the females were Himalayan. Five were female and three were male.

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mehitabel: We’re reporters from the Cheeseland News. We heard that humans were holding some cats captive out here against their will. Can you tell us what’s going on?

Tom 1: That’s right. They’re breeding us and then selling our kittens. These are lovely ladies and don’t deserve to be treated this way.

Female 1: Thank you Thomas. That’s very kind of you. But all of the adult cats were stolen from their homes and brought here, even the males.

mehitabel: How long as this been going on?

Female 2: Well, let’s see. The first batch of kittens were taken to be Christmas presents, they said. So that would be about six months.

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archy: That’s awful! Are they still stealing cats?

Female 2: No, we’re the last.

Tom 2: They said they were done after each of these ladies had two litters. They thought they’d have enough money by then.

Female 3: And they’re afraid of getting caught.

mehitabel: So each female is let go after having two litters?

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Female 1: They said they want a variety of kittens.

Tom 1: But not too varied. So everyone’s an Angora-Himalayan mix. They think the kittens look exotic enough to be sold as purebred.

mehitabel: So what happens after a female has two litters?

(The cats look at each other.)

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Tom 3: We don’t really know. They say the humans release them at the edge of the woods. Of course, none of them would ever come back here, so we don’t really know. You might want to talk to some of the females with kittens. They probably know more.

mehitabel: Thank you for your time. And try not to worry.

We continued to the next pen. There were three pregnant females in that one.

mehitabel: Hello ladies. We’re from the Cheeseland News and we’re trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on here. How long have you been captive?

Female 6: Almost three months. This is my second litter. They’re going to release me after my kittens are weaned.

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mehitabel: Do you know where they are going to release you?

(She motions with her head to the woods.)

mehitabel: Is that where you live?

Female 6: No. I have no idea how to get home from here. I hope someone in the woods can help me. Or maybe I can find some of the other cats from here. We’re all going to be out soon.

(She motioned to the others in her pen and the nursing mothers. Then she started to cry. mehitabel tried to comfort her before moving on to the final pen where two nursing mothers were laying. Once again he introduced us.)

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Mother 1: Can you help us? They’re going to take my babies away next week, and I’ll never see them again. And then they’re going to throw me in the woods. I’ll probably get eaten by something. I’ve never been in the woods before.

(She finally caught her breath. We looked at each other.)

Mehitabel: Ma’am, we’re on our way to do just that.

We ran to the house. Fortunately it was still night, and the men were asleep (very noisily.) Our luck held, and we found a computer. mehitabel quickly sent a message to George and Lenny (our editors). As quickly as possible given that he had to use two paws.

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We raced out of house to try and find our own way home.

 

Follow-Up

George immediately called the local police and told them what was going on with the cats. By morning, the police were at the farm with people from the local shelter. The men were arrested and are in jail. They have to pay back all the people they cheated when  they sold them mixed breed cats as purebred.

It turned out that the humans who had adopted the kittens had already fallen in love with them and had no interest in turning them over to shelters. The kittens were equally happy with their homes and wanted to stay. The humans know that they will be waiting a long time for their money, but are happy the scammers were caught.

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The shelter took in the pregnant females and nursing mothers to make sure everyone was healthy and safe. They weren’t sure what to do with the adults. No one knew how to get home. Finally the cats agreed to be matched with humans, but only if they had the right of refusal on the human.

The shelter wasn’t sure how easy it would be to find homes for 8 adult cats who were rather grumpy after being penned up. But they took pictures and put them on the website. Within a week, they all had forever homes. It turned out that they weren’t as difficult as they pretended once they were cuddled and petted.

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The humans never found the cats who had been released. But after a little digging, we discovered that they had formed their own family. They settled near a human artists’ colony where they could come and go as they pleased. They artists considered them furry muses. The cats considered the humans providers of treats and shelter when needed.

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(All pictures courtesy of Google Images)

 

5

A Kitten of Great Price – Part 2

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By archy cockroach and mehitabel cat, City Desk

Recipients of a Bullitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting for their three-part story Bedlam in New York (part one here, part two here and part three here)

They hung around the harbor, waiting for the next truck. In the meantime, mehitabel talked to some of the local cats to seen what they knew.

Every cat told the same story. Early the morning of the delivery, the truck would arrive with the kittens. The men would disappear for a few hours, leaving the kittens alone in the locked truck. When the men returned they would put up a nice display, fluff up the kittens, place each of them in a nice cage with water and toys, and wait for the buyers. When the people arrived, the men would match them with the kittens and the kittens went home with their new human parents.

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The cats had never seen the kittens or the truck anywhere near the water. In fact, they came from the opposite direction. So the kitten was right!

Finally a truck arrived with kittens. They set up in the same place as before. mehitabel could hear the kittens crying while the men went off to eat. He’d never had a mate or kittens but thought that he should do something.

mehitabel jumped up into the truck. It was filthy. Even archy was appalled. The kittens were together in one cage. They looked terrified and wanted their mothers. When they saw mehitabel, one of them asked if he was going to eat them. He was somewhat offended.

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mehitabel assured them that they were perfectly safe with him; he was there to make sure they were OK. They were hungry and tired, but otherwise fine. They wanted to know what was going to happen to them. mehitabel told them that they would each go to their forever home where humans would love them and treat them well. He didn’t tell them that because they were so expensive, they would be living in some of the nicest places in the city.

mehitabel heard the men and hid in a dark corner. He watched as they brushed the kittens and put each one into a spacious cage with food and water. The kittens ate ravenously. The name of the human parent was attached to the appropriate cage.

We watched as the humans came for their kittens. They all looked like they would make good parents. They cuddled the kittens and told them about their new homes. The kittens snuggled and purred. Then they were put in carriers and on their way home.

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But where had they come from? Since the humans had lied about where the kittens came from, what else had they lied about? We decided to take a trip with the truck drivers. We returned to the dark corner until the truck started to move.

It wasn’t a very long ride. And it definitely wasn’t anywhere near the water. In less than an hour, we smelled the unmistakable aroma of cows. Lots of cows. Then we were on a very bumpy road. Finally the truck stopped and the men got out. We could hear several voices.

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Man 1: How’d it go?

Man 2: Same as always. They just loved their “exotic” kitty.

(They all laughed.)

Man 3: How do you think they’d feel if they knew those cats came from here and aren’t even purebred?

Man 1: They better not ever find out. Do you know how much we’re making off of those little furballs?

Man 3: Sure beats working for a living.

(They all laughed as they walked away.)

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We looked at each other. We definitely had to get to the bottom of this. These men were taking advantage of cats!

Unfortunately we couldn’t do anything until someone came back so we could get out. Finally someone came for the cages. We heard him before he got to the truck and were waiting. As soon as he opened the back end, mehitabel jumped out with archy holding tight. Luckily it was dark, and the man was busy with his work.

We took a walk around the place and couldn’t believe what we saw.

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Conclusion coming.

10

A Kitten of Great Price

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By archy cockroach and mehitabel cat, City Desk

Recipients of a Bullitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting for their three-part story Bedlam in New York (part one here, part two here and part three here)

We had noticed a sudden influx of very expensive kittens in the city. The sellers said that they were a special breed from the Far East. There were no licensed breeders in the United States, so they had to be imported. The transportation costs were part of the reason they were so expensive. There’s only one facility that handles the kittens, and there are no current plans to allow the cats to be bred here.

We have a friend at a shelter who was concerned that the pricey kittens were taking forever homes away from local kittens. He asked if we knew anything about the cats.

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It was all very strange. Why would someone be shipping kittens overseas on an ongoing basis? Why weren’t they allowing the cats to be bred in this country?

Being a mixed breed, mehitabel is not a fan of breeders. If two Siamese cats got together, they’d have a purebred litter. If a Siamese chose a Korat, there wouldn’t be a pure bloodline. So what? The humans needed to keep their hands off cat business. Especially baby cat business.

We decided to investigate. Being a cat, mehitable stood the best chance of being able to get near one of the kittens. We discovered when a litter was scheduled to arrive at the harbor. When we arrived, we had no trouble finding the kittens. One of the new human parents worked for a local news station. A crew came along to get the story.

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mehitabel had to admit that the kittens were very cute. But he really didn’t see the difference between them and some of the other kittens in the city.

Once the kittens were connected with their human parents, archy jumped into the cage with the one who had seemed to be the leader. The kitten was very friendly and tried to help archy. archy was surprised to find that they had no trouble communicating. The kitten seemed smart enough, but archy couldn’t make sense of what she was saying.

She said that the kittens had left their mother that morning. For the first few weeks of their lives they had lived on a farm. It was beautiful, but they were kept in a pen and couldn’t explore it. The mother cats were released after a few litters. She didn’t know what happened to the father cats; she never saw them.

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archy asked why they were put on a ship rather than an airplane to come to the U.S. It seemed like a huge waste of time. The kitten said that she didn’t know what he was talking about. They traveled in the same truck she was in when she met her forever humans.

archy noticed that they had stopped in front of a very nice apartment building. He thanked the kitten for her help. She purred good-bye. He jumped out of the car when the door opened. He knew cockroaches weren’t welcome in that type of building and knew what would happen to him if he stayed.

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We discussed what archy had learned. We were sure we had met the right truck. And they were by the harbor. What was going on? We needed to look further into the matter.

To be continued…

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(pictures courtesy of Google Images)