Once upon a time, in the Land of Gir, a mother hurried along a home’s outside wall. “You wa-it ther-rre,” she spoke through teeth lightly clenched around her kitten. His name was Clyde, the third born after Abby and Bobbie, whom their mother already moved, by mouth, to under a porch across the street. When their mother returned Elizabeth waited her turn, while Davie was taken up and trotted across the street. Elizabeth, already porky, was next, though her mother kept dropping her. “Waaa-it riii-ght theerr-e,” she called back over her shoulder.
He waited, huddling behind one of the bushes. Already shivering from the cool evening, he jumped with every noise. He peered intently into the darkness, looking for his mom to rescue him. An owl nearby made a squeaky call. For a moment, he thought he heard his mother’s “mew”. He began to trill, wishing he would hear his mother’s [purr] (https://purrli.com/). He thought–for a moment-- he heard her chattering, but it was just an opossum with her kits. Discouraged, he crept closer to the walkway, then curled himself into a ball under a bush. Shadows mixed with shadows, as his eyelids flitted closed, opened, then slowly closed completely. He slept, amid worrisome nightmares that made his legs twitch as if running across air.
He awoke with a start! The world was silent, except for chirping that seemed to go on for hours The young kitten didn’'t know whether this was a friendly sound or one to fear. Slowly, he belly crawled until his nose met the sidewalk. “Mew,” he spoke softly. No one answered. As he stood up, he realized his belly ached-- from having to go potty and from hunger. He didn’t know how to fix either one–and both hurt! . His mom normally helped him pee… and provided him milk. He had neither. As the chirping increased, and the pain became unbearable, the young man began to beg-mew, an incessant plaintive begging for help and mercy. In his anxiety, he realized his back legs were now wet and cold. One problem solved, as he wiggled his belly around on the grass to dry himself. But he was still wet and cold —and very hungry!
Hunger makes brave kittens! He began to explore, cautiously! Remembering his mother’s warnings to “be quiet”, he only called out every once in a while, but softly. “Mew?” He investigated a bug in a hole, but got his nose wet for the effort. He sniffed a dark brown smelly spot–only to discover a dog had wet there. Phew! He sneezed-- but the smell was still up his nose! He inched toward a chain link fence that glistened in the light–but when he sniffed at it, the sparkly stuff wrapped around his whiskers! “Did you have to ruin my house?” a small spider demanded to know. As the spider walked off one of his whiskers, tickling as she moved, the kitten apologized. If nothing else, his mother taught him and his litter mates to have manners! “Can you tell me where my mother went?” the kitten asked. But the spider was already busy rebuilding her home. The baby kitten ran back to the bushes, where he began to cry.
He thought of the storybook his mother used to teach them about the world. In it was a zebra… and as he thought of his mother’s white and black stripes, he resolved to look for a zebra to ask after his mother. Maybe a zebra was his grandmother? But then, he remembered the tapir that looked like a pig! He hoped he wasn’t related to them! Just then, a very stinky skunk walked by with two of her children. He inspected his tail-- it was jet black, without a white stripe like their tails. He covered his nose and hid his eyes under his paws until they–and their stench—moved on by for the night. By then, the moon had risen, full in the sky overhead so he could see more. He thought about the penguins he saw in their storybook— but he decided his legs were too big for him to be one of them… and he was too small to be an Orca Whale! If anything, his sister Elizabeth was a Whale… or a Seal maybe? His thoughts still swirling, he realized he was very tired. He crawled under a low-hanging thick bush, and went to sleep.
And soon, he began to dream…
From the corner of the next house over, a 4-legged ball of dots came flopping around their sidewalk. He had such speed, he flopped right into the kitten’s camping site. The ball of dots, Sigmund, was followed by his sister, Edna. They stopped just short of stepping on the kitten. First, Sigmund sniffed him from head to toe… then Edna took over with her tongue, giving him a fairly thorough campside bath. She was so persistent, at first the kitten thought Puppy Edna was his mother. But wheh he managed to open one eye, and then the other eye, in between her tongue swipes, he realized both were Dalmatians like in his storybook. “Have you seen my mother?” he asked the pair. After considerable questions and discussion, the Dalmatian pups concluded the kitten should follow them to a nearby meadow where they last saw a B&W creature. They weren’t sure who she was, but they knew she had milk, for more than once she had obliged them when they were thirsty. She seemed to like orphans, which they all appeared to be!
Off the 3 ran, first Sigmund, then Edna, then the small kitten who only knew his family was B&W and that he, himself, had jet black paws and tail. He felt certain, if he could get a bath and see himself in a mirror, he would have white splotches or stripes like those of his mother and siblings. For several blocks, the kitten was so excited that he outran Sigmund who had to call out directions to the kit. “Go left,” Sigmund puffed. “Stop yelling at him,” Edna purred, “you’ll scare him!”
For the last bit, the 3 walked side by side, with the kitten tucked between them since the baby was only a few weeks old. A strong odor began to waft across their path, a smell the kitten never knew before, a pungent grassy-dirt phew! (The kitten called every awful smelling scent “phew”, for he had no other word for smells that burned his nose and eyes. His mother said he might have “aller-gies” but he didn’t know what that meant! He thought it might be like having fleas. The thought made him sit, turn his back leg, and begin to scratch his belly. Giving his leg a nip, he stood and tried to catch up with the Pups. It was hard to act normal when you think you might have fleas!!)
“There she is!” Sigmund was saying as he loped through tall grasses. With Sigmund and Edna making the stems slap the kitten in the face, he could not see anything but green (and red from irritation). “Hey!” he yelled (as loudly as a baby kitten can yell), “slow down!” “Watch it!” “I can’t see!” Just then, he heard it just as strongly as he smelled it.
“Mooooo!!!” The bellow sounded deafening.
“Look UP,” the Pups instructed in unison. The kitten did as instructed. There, like a Willy Wonka giant candy, hung a milk bar on tap. One dripped, sending a splatter into the kitten’s eyes and one ear. He sat down, using one paw to wipe his face, just like he saw his mother do to clean herself. MILK! How lovely. Sweet! “When will she lay down?” he squeaked excitedly.
The Pups looked confused, then admitted, “She doesn’t. We just waited for a calf to get her started… then, we stepped in.” They realized this would never do for a tiny kitten! Just then, the Holstein bowed her head and snorted right into the baby’s face. “A runaway, are you?” she asked.
“No,” the kitten whispered in fear.
“I don’t know,” he whimpered. “The Pups brought me here, hoping you are my mother. But… but–”
The cow let out a long chuckle. “Moooooooo! Mooooooo!” The herd began to close in around them, all using deafening voices as the kitten’s plight spread through their group. Some were even laughing at him! Holly the Holstein had to silence them, as she nudged the kitten away from a fresh pile of cow dung. "Look, Sonny, I’ve never seen you before. No one is as beautiful, but many of us are Black, White, or Black AND White. By now, “Sonny” was truly crying. He just wanted to return to his bush, the last place he saw his mommy. As his small legs carried him through the trampled grass, she called after him, “What’s your name, in case I see your mother?”
“I – I – I dunno,” he cried as the three dejectedly walked back to the neighborhood. He never heard his mother call him anything at all. This worried him all the way back to where they began. There, the Pups, uncomfortable with the growing lack of light, decided they should go. They tucked the kit back into his campground under the bush, then trotted down the street, their legs flopping under them.
The kitten slept fitfully. With only a drop of milk-- admittedly a big drop-- he was still hungry. And thus, his rambling dreaming continued…
A blue eye peered through the branches, then two deep blue saucers. A nose poked at his neck, then nearly sucked all the air from his tiny nostrils!
“No. What a tiny thing you are,” the Siberian Husky remarked. He lifted his back leg—then thought bitter of it, and walked off to do his business. The kitten looked-- yup, he was a boy, at least he knew that much. Henry the Husky returned. “What you laying here for? You shouldn’t be out after dark!” When Henry lifted his head and sat, he towered high above the small kitten. “I lost my mom-- er, my mom lost ME,” the kitten told him, as he repeated his story once again.
“Left you, eh?” Henry growled.
“All I know is my mother and siblings are black and white… or white and black. I know my siblings’ names, and mom moved them under that porch over there. But when we checked there, they were gone.” For the umpteenth time, the kitten began to cry, then sob.
“Black and white, eh?”
He sniffled, “Or white and black,” he told Henry.
“Well, there, don’t cry. I saw a W&B–B&W momma over near the zoo just today. She had one youngin that I saw. Let me go track her down and bring her back here. Now don’t you move!” With that, Henry ran off, his tail standing straight up. The kitten, feeling a bit hopeful, snuggled down and watched for Henry through the bushy branches.
When he opened his eyes, he wasn’t sure if he was awake or dreaming. Or perhaps he fell into the open pages of his story book. For in front of his face was a rolly-polly something-or-other, with black circled eyes and black tipped ears. She looked just like the first B&W–W&B animal from his storybook
“Lemme introduce you,” Henry barked. “This here is Pan and her baby Pan-pan. Seems they hail from The Land of Nod, which can only be reached by floating on clouds! Pan here fell through when it rained last night. Now, even though she’s not your mom, she’s happy to take you to The Land of Nod where people called Nodders live and work. They will keep you safe and protect you. Plus, you can travel the world with them and get your kitten-hood ed-u-ma-cation!”
Pan peered at the kitten. The young guy stood and smelled her fur, which felt velvety soft. He crawled up on her, and sat next to Pan-pan. The three thanked Henry for his help, before Henry gave the kitten a parting lick.
Pan-pan entertained the kitten, as Pan summoned a cloud to drop toward the ground… then rise. The white billowy cloud carried them off to the land of Nod, in the Universe of Tomnod. On the way, Pan asked if the kitten’s mom ever spoke about playing it cagey? The kitten had never heard of the word. “Did she tell you to be cautious? That the world is big and wonderful, and so exciting, but to be watchful and careful too?” The kitten nodded. “Perhaps you are of the lineage known as the Cageycat Coat of Arms? Do you think?”
But the kitten had fallen asleep… dreaming of meeting Nodders in the great Land of Nod…
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