By Larry, California
Something smells funny, Whiskers thought.
My pets are up to something. Whiskers was annoyed to be woken from his afternoon nap by sounds of loud human meowing coming from the other room. Curled up under a ray of sunlight streaming through the bay window, Whiskers had been daydreaming of past victories against neighboring rivals. His prowess defending the lemon tree was his favorite dream, but that sort of pleasantness would have to wait for now. I'd better go and see what trouble my pets are getting themselves into.
Whiskers stretched his large tabby frame and pranced into the dining room where his human pets, the tall furry male one and the female one, were sitting at the table with another - sniff, sniff - female human. Whiskers hated when the pets had visitors over, what with their droning and caterwauling for hours. When that happened, dinner was usually late. Now where was the younger one? He's always good at feeding me snacks.
Whiskers looked around. He tested the air again.
The scent hit him like a brick wall. What the Dog is that! He followed his nose into another room and found the younger one, who really wasn't that young anymore, sitting next to an opened travel cage. And there he sat, playing with another animal! Whiskers was devastated. His pets had betrayed their loyalty to him. Would I have to share my food supply?
Horrified, the worried Whiskers wandered hesitantly into the room for this situation demanded closer inspection. He approached this strange beast with caution and let loose a loud "Meow."
The boy looked up and said, "Whiskers! Let me introduce you to Ninja. He'll be staying with us for a week. He's a ferret."
Whiskers hissed to Ninja, "Stay away from my pets."
"Chill, mate," Ninja chirped back. "I'm only hanging for a bit. It happens all the time. Summer vacation, you know. My pets drop me off at some cronies while they go sport around for a few. Before ya know it, I'll be gone lickety-split."
"You talk funny," Whiskers meowed, but added sternly, "This is MY house so stay away from my food!"
"Don't be so tense, mate," Ninja chittered back. "I've got me own grub, so I won't be chowing on your stuff."
"Good. You said your pets do this a lot, but I've never seen you before."
"The last place didn't work none too good, I'm afraid," Ninja explained. "It seems that I may have I bit the dog on the nose."
Whiskers studied Ninja, now even more curious. "Go on."
"Well, in my defense, he was nosing around a bit in me privates and I don't like that. Besides that, dogs smell funny," Ninja said.
Whiskers thought that maybe, just maybe, this "ferret thing" might be okay after all.
* * * * *
Sitting on the back porch steps, Dirty Face, Whiskers' small calico girlfriend, greeted him with a purr and a rub. The warm summer evening seemed to reflect his somber mood. When a cool breeze gently ruffled their fur, Dirty Face broached the subject. "What's on your furry little mind that's got you so quiet?" she asked him.
Whiskers told her about the new houseguest. "He's not much of a bother, but he's, well...He's there nonetheless."
"Oh dear," Dirty Face said. "What's he like?"
"Well, he talks funny and he smells different. I don't like him."
"Well, you smell different today and I still like you," Dirty Face teased.
Whiskers was having none of it, though. When Dirty Face tried to lighten the mood by purring and rubbing against him, Whiskers nipped at her and immediately regretted it.
"Well, act like a big kitten then. But don't come mewing to me until you solve your little problem," Dirty Face said as she strutted away, her tail stuck up straight into the sky as she headed toward the lemon tree in the neighbor's yard and away from Whiskers' foul mood.
A noise behind startled him, causing him to jump to his feet immediately, but it was only the back door opening. It was the woman of the house calling him to come in. Even the scraps of chicken in his bowl weren't enough to raise his spirits. He ate it all anyway though. He was only irritated, after all, not stupid.
* * * * *
Ninja kept to his cage area, but his chittering while he played with the boy rubbed Whiskers' fur the wrong way. This had continued off and on all day long. It was only the second day. How am I going to make it for an entire week? Whiskers thought.
Finally, the boy went out for a bike ride. With the parents out doing whatever humans do during the day, Whiskers found himself left alone in the house with that "ferret thing". It was time to let this Ninja character know who was boss around here.
"Ay, so you decided to pop yer head in and see me, then, did ya?" Ninja said as Whiskers strolled into the room.
He noticed that the ferret was locked in his cage. "What are you in prison for?" Whiskers taunted Ninja.
"No need to be rude. It's me home. I'm a wild animal, you know. Humans are afraid of what I might do when they're not around," Ninja said.
"And what might that be?" Whiskers asked suspiciously. Now he had to protect his pets from this wild creature? he thought to himself.
"Oh, I steal things. I like to forage. Me nose is good at that kinda stuff. The last place I was at, the missus got all bent out of shape when she found her diamond brooch in me cage. I claimed innocence, but she was having none of it. It's just me. It's me nature, I tells ya."
Whiskers tried to peek into the cage to see if Ninja had hidden anything back there, but the ferret blocked his view. Ninja continued, "Ay. I haven't taken anything from you. Haven't been out of the cage long enough. Don't know what kind of shiny things you got laying around here yet. Mind you, my best score was a diamond dog collar. Taken right off a big ol' fluffed up and pampered poodle while she slept," Ninja chittered with that annoying laugh of his.
Whiskers almost laughed at that, but regained his aloofness quickly. "Don't go taking stuff from here or you'll have to answer to me! Besides, I don't think you can take anything while you're locked in your little jail there!" Whiskers let loose a derisive meow.
"Ay. It's no problem, mate. I just do this." Ninja demonstrated by squeezing his paw partially through the front of the cage, lifting up, and the latch opened. "See? If I had wanted your stuff, I would've had it by now." It was Ninja's turn to laugh.
Whiskers bumped the front of the cage and the latch fell back in place. "Stay in there or I'll make you wish you had never left your home!" Whiskers hissed at him.
Ninja backed away without saying anything, and curled up in the back of his cage. Whiskers strutted out of the room, but decided not to go far, instead settling down near the door, where he could keep an eye on things.
* * * * *
The boy came in from his bike ride, walked right past Whiskers and started playing with Ninja. This went on for several days, annoying the fur out of Whiskers as he sat by, listening to the sounds of laughter and chittering. Sometimes Whiskers thought the ferret was being overly playful with the boy just to annoy him.
Finally Whiskers had enough of this nonsense. He got up from his spot just outside the room and snuck into the parents' bedroom. Usually they got mad when he did that, but they were distracted watching the big window-type thing in the living room. Something they called a "Teevee" in human-speak.
The closet door was open a crack, and Whiskers slid through. The playful noises from the other room were finally muted. He leapt up onto a box, climbed his way up some clothing, and pawed his way to the top of the shelf. He found a small spot in the back of the shelf where some old shirts were stored, curled up, and took a nap.
It was a fitful rest, without the dreams of past glories, but it was a rest nonetheless. No ferret sounds made it to his ears. I could stay here forever, he thought, right up until the point his stomach growled. Oh. It must be dinnertime!
Whiskers stood up and realized he was trapped. The door had been shut, blocking his way down and out of the closet. He meowed for someone to open it, but nobody could hear him through the thick door. He was stuck with no way out.
Whiskers cried for help, but it was to no avail. He was getting hungrier and hungrier and there was nothing to eat. He didn't feel like sleeping anymore, so he began pawing at the walls. His de-clawed paws were no match for the hardened plaster though.
Hours passed, but it felt like days to Whiskers. Every now and then he'd let loose a meow, but his throat was getting dry so the volume was pretty low. He was sure nobody could hear him.
Meanwhile, in the other room, the boy had stopped playing with Ninja, having put him back into his cage. Ninja noticed that Whiskers was no longer at his usual spot and sensed something was amiss. He chittered loudly, but the boy ignored him. He chittered again, and the boy threw a blanket over the cage. "Hush," the boy said. "I'm watching TV."
Ninja popped the latch on his cage, and poked his head out from under the blanket. Catching the movement out of the corner of his eye, the boy saw Ninja sprint across the floor to the hallway. He screamed to his parents, "Ninja's loose!" and pandemonium broke out as the three humans tried to catch the ferret as it ran through the house.
Ninja evaded capture long enough to catch a recent scent from Whiskers and perked up his ears to listen. Was that a meow? Ninja thought to himself. He ran down the hall, through the legs of the boy, and into the parents' bedroom. Stopping at the closet door, he clawed at it, and allowed himself to be captured by the tall male human.
"Gotcha!" the male said. "Don't do that again!"
As he lifted his hand back to smack the ferret, the female said, "Wait! What's that noise?" She opened the closet door to see two wide eyes staring back at her from the top of the shelf. "What are you doing up there? Poor kitty!"
Ninja was placed back into his cage and the family gathered around Whiskers. They petted him and fed him. Whiskers was a happy cat again, and felt that his pets were finally behaving as they should.
* * * * *
The rest of the week flew by. Even though he thought the ferret smelled different, Whiskers and Ninja became the best of friends. They played and told stories of adventures to each other. When it was finally time for Ninja to leave, Whiskers was surprised that he was sad to see the ferret go.
"It's going to be strange not waking up to your strange scent in the house," Whiskers told him.
"Ay, mate. It's been a blast. I'm glad I didn't have to nip your nose," Ninja joked.
"You take care. I look forward to your next visit," Whiskers purred.
Finally the ferret's lady picked up the cage, and in one last act, when no one was looking, Ninja dropped something out of the cage, onto the ground, right at Whiskers' feet. Ninja waved goodbye and was out of the door before Whiskers could see what it was. When he finally looked down, he saw it was the lady of the house's diamond necklace.
Why, that scoundrel! Whiskers thought. Laughing to himself, he dragged it back to the bedroom and left it near the night stand where the lady could find it later. She'll just think she dropped it. Next time, I'll keep a closer eye on him!
* * * * *
That evening, sitting on the porch, letting the summer evening breeze cool his fur, Whiskers recounted the adventure to Dirty Face. She purred at the telling, and concluded, "So even though he smelled different, you still became good friends."
"Yes, but in our own way, we all smell a little different from one another. That's what makes life interesting, after all."