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)

0

Back to the Forest for New Year’s Eve

Daisy and Daphne are twin does who were born last year. Daphne is the more outgoing of the two and usually speaks for them. They are part of a close-knit herd of deer. They still live with their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Buck.

One day at the end of December, they return home very excited.

Daphne: Guess what, Daddy? Stag is having a New Year’s Eve party and we’re invited! May we go? Everyone’s going to be there.

Mr. B: No, you may not.

Daphne: Why not, Daddy? He seemed so nice at the Grizzlies’ party. I’m sure nothing bad will happen.

Mr. B: I happen to know that the reason he was so well-behaved was because Mr. G threatened to eat him in the spring is he wasn’t.

Daphne: You don’t really believe that silly rumor, do you Daddy? Please? We’ll be the only young deer who won’t be there. Everyone will laugh at us and call us fawns.

Mr. B: The answer is no, and that’s final.

The girls go to their bedding places in tears.

The next day when all the young does get together, Daphne and Daisy find out that none of the others could go either.

Violet: This is so unfair. They’re treating us like fawns.

The others nod in agreement.

Daisy (timidly): Maybe we could have our own party.

Jasmine: Wow, Daisy. You never say anything. That’s a great idea!

Daphne: No one can object if it’s just us.

Daphne’s right. All the fathers agree it was the perfect solution. Being the most assertive, Daphne plans everything and hands out tasks.

Meanwhile, Stag finds out that the does would be having their own party rather than coming to his. What was the point of a party with no does? He had to find a way around the problem. But what?

New Year’s Eve arrives. The does get to the meadow and set everything up. They have grass and berries to eat. There’s a stream nearby to drink from, and lots of space to run around in.

Violet: This is perfect. I’m glad it’s only us. We don’t have to worry about impressing the boys.

Daphne: But Stag is so handsome! Did you see his antlers?

Jasmine (giggling): You know what they say about the size of a buck’s antlers.

Daisy: Jasmine! How could you say something like that?

Daisy lowers her head in embarrassment. The other does laugh.

Jasmine: Besides, Daisy, you might be the first one of us to find out. You know that Billy likes you. He spends all of his time watching you.

Daisy: Really? I hadn’t noticed

Daphne: She’s probably telling the truth. She doesn’t even know I’m there half the time.

Daisy: That’s not true!

Daphne (laughing): What about the time you were looking all over for me, and I was asleep in bed?

Daisy: I guess I do daydream a lot. Do you really think he likes me?

All the other does laugh.

Violet: Apparently you’re the only one who doesn’t know. (Pauses) I wonder if we can jump over the stream.

Amber: I bet I can.

She takes off running and lands on the other bank. The dirt gives way and she lands in the water. She looks at the others; they shake their heads “no”. Each one takes a turn. The only one who can land on the other side is Daphne. The other does are jumping around and splashing in the water.

Daphne: Shhh! I think I hear something in the bushes.

The others get out of the stream as quietly as possible There is definitely something behind the bushes. Panicked, they try to decide which way to run. As they start to run away from the bushes, they hear a familiar voice.

Stag: Girls! Don’t run away! It’s only us. We got bored by ourselves and decided to come over to see what you’re doing.

He looks very handsome, standing there and tossing his head. There are several young bucks with him. They have food and something to drink. The girls aren’t sure what to do.

Daphne: Stag! You can’t stay here. You know we’re not allowed to be with you.

Stag looks at her with big brown eyes.

Stag (sounding hurt): Are you kicking us out? We won’t hurt you. I promise. And I want you to try my special party mix. I think you’ll like how it makes you feel.

Stag wasn’t really sure what the special ingredient was. He had been in the forest and saw a field with some type of grass he couldn’t identify. He started to eat some of it and a human came out of the woods with a gun. He was waving the gun around and said. “Deer, you eat my weed and I’ll shoot you. Get out of here!” Stag had been very confused. He thought humans didn’t like weeds. In a few minutes he felt so relaxed he fell asleep. The next time he didn’t eat as much and just felt calm. He thought the girls might let them stay if they ate some.

Daphne: I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try it. But after that, you have to leave.

 

The elder Bucks were relaxing at home. Suddenly they heard a crashing sound. Startled, they looked up and saw Violet’s father, Tiny. He was called Tiny because he was the largest deer in the forest.

Tiny: Hello, neighbors! I was out getting a snack and thought I’d stop by to see the girls. It’s getting dark, and I thought an escort home might be a good idea.

Mr. B: Excellent idea! I’ll come with you.

With Tiny stopping to graze regularly, it took the bucks a while to get to the meadow. When they arrived, they found the bucks and does sitting in a circle talking.

Mr. B: I thought we said no bucks.

Tiny: Actually we said no Stag. Let’s find out what’s going on. (Steps in.) Hi girls, how’s it going?

Violet (startled): Hi, Daddy. What are you doing here? (Looks at the bucks.) We were just talking.

Billy (stands up): Yes, sir. We heard the girls having fun in the water and came over. I hope we didn’t get anyone in trouble.

Mr. B: I guess there’s no problem. You boys are all part of the herd. (Looks around) Daisy, where’s Daphne?

Daisy (vaguely): She around here somewhere.

Mr. B: WHERE IS SHE?

Daisy points her nose toward the river. Mr. B walks over and finds Daphne and Stag nuzzling by the river.

The other deer can’t make out what is being said, but Stag comes crashing through the meadow into the woods. Daphne and Mr. B join the others.

Mr. B: Tiny, would it be OK for Daisy to walk home with you? I need to speak with Daphne privately.

Tiny nodded and all the other deer left the two of them in the meadow.