Drat the Cat

For Bess

by Jean Chatson Parks

I dreamed that I was standing at the gates of heaven looking in. What did I see? Well, Mother and my sister Bess were there, sitting on a golden bench, having a conversation with Paul and Silas about their adventures on earth. Now Martha joins the group and Bess is giving her the recipe for butter tarts.

But, what is that on Mothers lap?

OH NO! It cannot be.

It is the CAT!

Mother is stroking its back and Cat is purring with contentment. Cat opens a sleepy eye and sees me standing at the gate. He gives me a grin that is pure evil. It is a grin I know so well.

How did that despicable, evil cat get into heaven?

I am ninety years old. I am planning on joining the heavenly family soon. Conversing with saints and listening to Angle choirs. But Cat is there and we do not get along!

Cat came to live with us in 1937. At that time, we were living in the parsonage of the Free Methodist church in Uxbridge Ontario Canada. Father brought him home, after making a pastoral call with a farmer, who was a church member.

He arrived as a scrawny little kitten. A Barn Cat, descending from a long line of Barn Cats. No fluffy soft fur, no smiling blue eyes, no pedigree, no manners, no kindred spirit, no lofty character, no anything!

He was an ugly grey and black stripped kitten with mean little eyes.

Mother and my little sister Bess fell in love with the ugly little beast the moment they saw him.

Mother would place Cat on a stool in the kitchen. Then whenever she would pass by, he would reach out and pinch her with his paw. “Oh, you’re a naughty kitten” she would say as she stopped her work to lovingly pat him on his head.

Bess, who was four years old, claimed this Cat as her very own baby doll. She dressed Cat in baby clothes complete with bonnet. Then she would place him in a doll carriage and cover him with a blanket. There was no sidewalk on our side of the road, so she dragged her buggy across the rough gravel road to where there was a nice long stretch of sidewalk. Now Cat could have a smooth comfortable ride.

One day I joined her and Cat on a carriage walk. A woman was walking towards us, she stopped by the buggy and asked if she could see our baby doll. She was a pleasant lady with a smiling face. She bent down and pulled the blanket back from the baby doll only to find an evil eyed cat in a bonnet staring at her. Startled, she jerked herself upright and started to laugh. We left her laughing on the sidewalk and went on with our carriage walk.

The year of 1937 I was six years old and was in first grade at Uxbridge school. One winter day I walked home from school in a raging winter storm. The fierce wind cut right through my little cloth coat. I was so cold. The back door of the house was locked and the car was gone. I went to the front door and it was locked. Now I was crying.

The front porch had a solid wall railing around it. So, I sat down and scooted up into corner of the porch to get out of the wind. Suddenly out of nowhere appeared the Cat. He too had been locked out of the house. Cat came and laid down close to my legs. He was cold too. Cat let out a loud angry meow. Sobbing, I said “the house is locked Cat, I can’t let you in”. Cat let out another mean and fierce Meow and then sunk his sharp teeth into my ankle. Blood spurted out making a large red stain on my stocking.

My parents arrived home shortly after the incident and Cat and I were ushered into the house. My parents would have been home on time, but the storm had created whiteouts on the road, reducing their speed to a crawl. They treated the wound and Cat found a warm spot by the stove. No one said “bad, bad, naughty cat”. Now, if I had bitten the Cat, I would have received a spanking and a hell fire sermon.

I was six years old and I knew something that no one else in the family knew. Cat was a dirty rotten, sneaky, evil sinner and we would be enemies forever.

The church moved their pastors every three or four years. So here we are in 1940 moving once again. This time to the Orillia Ontario church, of course Cat went with us. Any cuteness that Cat had as a kitten was gone. He now resembled an alley cat. In fact, he was an alley cat. He stayed out all night in the summer howling and yowling, living a life of debauchery and sin. Our home was a parsonage, a holy home. Yet my parents allowed it to be defiled by this evil Cat.

The Orillia parsonage stood beside the church. There was only a few feet between the buildings. One hot summer Sunday morning, the church was so warm that the front door of the church was left open to let a breeze come through. We were seated in our usual pew (two rows from the front of the church). Father started the service by having us stand to sing the first hymn. We were well into the last verse of “Standing on the Promises” when Mother saw Cat. He had sashed down the center aisle of the church and was almost to the alter. Father saw Cat too and immediately called for everyone to kneel in prayer. I knew that Cat had no intentions of stopping at the alter for forgiveness. He was headed for the platform where he would roll around and scratch himself in gross places. Mother whispered to Bess to retrieve the cat and take him out of the church

Four years later we moved again. This time to Gravenhurst Ontario, a beautiful little town in Muskoka. Of course, Cat went with us.

A church friend who kept birds gave us a gift of a Mountain Hearts Warbler. It was a gorgeous looking bird with a song that would light the room. I loved that classy bird. He came in a nice cage which Mother placed on top of the refrigerator. The next day I hurried home from school to see the warbler. I rushed into the kitchen to find a crime scene. The cage lay on the floor. Its door was open and a handful of feathers were scattered about. The beautiful bird was gone. A wooden chair had been left beside the refrigerator. The evil cat had jumped on the chair seat, then to the chair back, then one final leap to the top of the refrigerator knocking the cage to the floor.

I spotted the Cat hiding in a corner of the room licking his paws. “MURDER, KILLER” I screamed. Now the family would see that the Cat was completely wicked and they would throw him out. Justice would finally be done!

Later that evening I walked into the kitchen to find my mother seated in a chair. The Cat, (with a belly full of Canary), was sprawled in her lap, she was stroking his back and cooing sweet nothings to him and Cat was purring sweet nothings back to her.

Mother” I shouted “what are you doing? This Cat is a killer. How can you love this murderer! We must get rid of him”. Mother hung her head and kept on rubbing the Cats back. Cat turned his head slightly toward me, gave me an evil smirk and went on purring.

There is no justice.

Years have passed and I am very old. My dream was so real! I would not put it past mother and Bess to either sneak or pray cat into heaven.

What am I to do?

Was it only a dream?

What if it’s not?

Please pray for me. My name is Jean Chatson Parks.

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