Kitten Academy Tryouts, by Wombat

My friend Wombat wrote this tale for me about the adventures of Skittles and Fisher.  I love it!

Mr A was playing cards and losing badly. Loganberry was an extremely good card player. Mr A had already lost two packets of Temptations and had bet his last pack and some lickable treats on his final chance to recoup his losses. Logie had an excellent poker face but Mr A was feeling confident. He was just about to reveal his cards when the words “Intruder Alert, Intruder Alert” sounded around the basement.

DJ looked at him and said “why are you the way you are? Why did you have to reprogram our doorbell to do that?”

Mr A just grinned, put his cards face down on the table and left to answer the door looking back at Loganberry as if he suspected the cat of cheating. When Mr A opened the door he was confused because there was no one there. Just as he was about to close the door he heard a meow and looked down, right into the eyes of a kitten. Mr A looked around his yard trying to work out how the doorbell had been rung and then looked down again at the kitten. Err make that kittens. There were two beautiful kittens staring up at him and for the first time in his dealings with kittens he had no idea what was happening. After another look around the yard he stepped aside and said “you better come in kittens while I work out where you come from. DJ could you please come up here” he called.

DJ arrived expecting to find a delivery person but instead found two very self-possessed kittens. Mr A said ‘they were at the door and I can’t see who rang the bell. I mean it obviously wasn’t them but I can’t see a human anywhere. I wonder who they are.”

“Look at their collars” said DJ. She bent down and pulled out one of the sheets of paper folded and tucked into the kittens’ collars. It contained stick drawings of the Academy and lots of kittens playing and litter boxes and scratching posts and cat trees and at the bottom was a tiny kitten paw print and a question mark. “Oh my goodness. I think they are applying to join the Academy. We have never had a kitten apply to join have we,” asked DJ.

“Yes this is definitely a first – we have never had a kitten apply directly. It is most irregular” said Mr A in his best headmaster voice to cover his confusion. “We can’t put them back on the street and On Angel’s Wings will not be open until Monday so we can’t scan for a microchip before then. We will just have to check their health and keep them isolated while we decide what to do”.

“So far so good,’ purred Skittles to Fisher ‘I told you the Academys would not turn away kittens in need. We watched them on the TV in the shelter long enough to know they are proper cat people.”

As DJ bent and picked her up Skittles sighed and said “now we just have to learn to be cats”.

An hour later Skittles and Fisher were waiting in the Spa when DJ came in saying “at least they passed their SNAP tests and are safe to be here”.

Skittles leaned into Fisher and asked “is that like a test to see if we can drive a human safely?”

“Must be Skittles, I am not sure how else we could be unsafe, I wash at least 30 times a day”.

“I can’t find any fleas on them” said DJ rifling through their fur “but we should give them a bath anyway”.

Fisher was deeply offended at the idea that he might have fleas but the water was nice and warm and DJ gave them a massage with a towel afterwards.

Mr A went back to his card game with Loganberry while DJ gave the kittens a snuggle and put out some food for them on the Spa floor. “Ooh KMR, yum” said Skittles. “I told you the KA kittens live the high life. I hope they don’t find us forever humans too soon.” The kittens snuggled together inside a giant red shoe as DJ left the Spa still no wiser as to why two kittens had turned up at her door.

Saturday morning at KA was Mailbag time and Mr A and DJ were very busy. They fed the new kittens and left them in the bathroom until after the mailbag. DJ had given them temporary names of Kazoo 2 and Hannah 2 because of their resemblance to the older kittens.

The kittens were playing and celebrating their arrival when a voice said “How’s it going kits?” and they looked up into the eyes of Professor Custard. The kittens bounced up and down with excitement. It was the most famous wrestling coach in all of kittendom and he was right there in front of them. The kittens wasted no time before diving on his back and belly and asking for a masterclass. There was nothing that Custaru was happier to do and he tumbled them around and around the bathroom through their food, sending DJ’s toiletries flying and ending up covered from ears to tail in talcum powder. The kittens shook themselves over and over till most of the powder was on the floor and they only looked slightly grey and a bit startled.

Custard looked at them and said “Not sure why but I have a feeling it is time to introduce you to Ari” and he pulled the door all the way open with his paw. The sweet smelling but slightly bizarre procession headed down the stairs past the Christmas tree to the kitchen. Mr A and DJ had returned from visiting Candy at the post office and were in the Annexe getting ready for the mailbag.

When Custard led them into the kitchen Logie was munching on one of his newly acquired packets of Temptations while holding off Eddie with a paw. Ari looked down and said “Hi cousins”.

“Wow, are we really cousins Professor?”

“Probably not but your coats are the perfect cat colour right now. Sadly you will not get to keep my magnificent colour once DJ sees you. If you don’t want another bath I suggest you find some clean litter and roll in it and then do a dance. You will be clean and fresh in a jiffy.”

“Where do we find the clean litter Professor?”

“There are about 75 million litter trays in this house. You will just have to follow your nose to the unused ones.”

“Stop teasing them Ari, you and Eddie take them to the meadow for a quick roll in the grass and have them back here in 10 minutes for an interview. I want to hear their stories” said Acro.

“We met in a homeless kitten shelter and we get on really well. We like to have fun and we like to eat and we like to sleep so we are of course good at being kittens but for some reason we have not found our forever humans yet. The people at the shelter were very nice though and gave us lots of cuddles. Then one day a lady put the TV in the kitten room so she could watch KA while she worked. We watched the kittens and the Faculty and the humans and we just knew this is where we were meant to be. We want to learn to cat so a human will risk their entire existence and their décor on us,” explained Skittles.

“So we came” Fisher beamed.

“Where was this shelter” Acro asked.

“That way” said both kittens, pointing in completely different directions.

“How long did it take you to get here” asked Logie, starting to take an interest now his stomach was full.

“42 baths,” said Skittles “but two of those we spent in the saddle bag pouches of a motorcycle club we hitched a ride from called Kitty Mayhem”.

“Well as you were in a shelter you will each have a microchip and On Angels Wings will find your home shelter on Monday,” intoned Acro.

“But we came all this way to learn to be proper cats” whined Fisher.

“Well proper cats don’t whine but I can understand your disappointment after such an effort. Would you be prepared to give them a crash course on being cats Faculty?”

“Ooh crashes” said Custard with a huge smile.

Everybody agreed including Eddie once he had gulped down a mouthful of the Temptations he had stolen from Logie the Card Shark.

“Going on the state you were in when you came downstairs you have already had your first wrestling lesson so perhaps Professor Custard you could take the kittens for your Grace and Dignity lesson? I would like to get as many lessons out of the way as possible during the mailbag and this afternoon’s adoptions so we can move onto the human related lessons this evening” explained Acro as he sent the kittens off to learn the delicate art of maintaining an aura of sophistication in a human world.

Humans and cats have a different view of dignity and the kittens were quickly taken through the specialty by Custard. “OK youngsters the first step to impressing your humans is to bring elegance to your bathing routines. Humans stand or sit to clean themselves and do not think to bring the grace of yoga to their cleansing routines. The most elegant move is of course to throw your leg over your shoulder as you clean your bum and your tail but don’t stop there. Find something to prop yourself against as you clean your belly and chest. Try your human’s head. Most human heads are firm enough to provide strong support as you lick but will also move sufficiently to allow you to lean back into your lick and provide a full body cleanse. A sofa or a bed is also a good base from which to launch an assault on the dirt between your toes. We all know that the proper approach to cleaning your toes involves a chewing process and your humans will look at you chewing your toes and be so overwhelmed by the grace of the moment they will need to look away.

Custard climbed to the top of the sofa to demonstrate some of the poses and promptly fell backwards into the Christmas tree. Ornaments and Mags, who had been following along, were sent flying in all directions. Custard simply climbed to the top of the sofa again and said “I don’t expect you to demonstrate such flair just yet kittens”. Custard then talked the kittens through a series of what he called ‘cuddle falls’. These were deliberate tumbles designed to elicit concern and cuddles from their humans and Custard then advised them to watch some of the educational videos available on the subject including a personal favourite where he jumped into a box toppling it over. He was particularly pleased because many kittens had contacted him over the Kazoo Network to thank him for the extra cuddles putting his advice into practice had earnt them. Custard then had to explain the Kazoo Network to the kittens as the KA Live Stream had not included any details of this extraordinary kitten collective.

Custard then led them into the kitchen for their next lesson just as Eddie asked “but what was the echidna doing there in the first place Acro?”

“A story for another time Eddie. It is time for Skittles and Fisher to learn the noble cat art of getting comfortable” replied Acro. Acro led them back into the living room and said “We will start you off easy kittens. Climb on to the sofa and get comfortable on the throw rug please”. The kittens quickly climbed up and got themselves comfortable. Acro said “that was fine as far as it went kittens but Skittles you forgot to knead the rug for at least 30 seconds and Fisher you only did one turn before you lay down. Try at least three turns before you settle on any surface. Now let’s try something less conventional. Try getting comfortable in the planter where the Kazoo Network Gnome is; over there.” The kittens put their newly acquired knowledge to good use kicking leaves out of the way and knocking the little fence over before Skittles settled her head on the Gnome’s feet.

“Good work kittens. Now you can try a real challenge” said Acro as he took them to a collection of cat toys in the corner of the living room and told them to settle in. Skittles went first and tried to get comfortable on a Mylar ball and a pile of flat mice. After a false start she wrapped herself around a tri-level ball track and rested her head on a treat dispensing ball. Acro smiled and nodded and sent Fisher in to join her. Fisher remembered to do his circuits this time and apologised to his friend for stepping on her head each time he did a turn. Eventually Fisher used an overturned arch shaped back scratching bristle as a pillow and lay his body across his friend’s back legs. “Excellent work kittens and remember no matter how absurd the surface you can always make yourself comfortable.”

The next lesson was on begging and Professor Loganberry took them through a range of beseeching looks, leg rubs for humans and plaintive staring at the dinner bowl. “The most important method my friends is quiet persistence. Wait till your human is in the vicinity of your food bowl and sit in front of it. Do not meow, do not make a sound. Just build up a sense of foreboding in your humans. Ignore all attempts to distract you or to pretend that you are not pointing out the non-existence of food in the bowl. Humans range from the weak to the strong but few can resist a sense of expectation. Expect them to fill your food bowl and they will find themselves compelled to do so.”

Ari then collected the kittens for their cat independence lessons. Ari explained “humans sometimes forget that we felines need some time alone and want us with them all the time. There is a quick method available to you to break them of that belief and it is by monitoring your humans to the point they become uncomfortable and feel happy for you to do your own thing. Start by following your human everywhere and I mean everywhere. Monitor them in the shower, in the bath and even in the toilet and say nothing. Not a meow. If necessary use a judgmental face. Within a few days you will find they are happy for you to disappear to the top of the linen cupboard for a few hours nap.”

“And the top of the linen cupboard is a good place for beginners to hide” chimed in Eddie, taking over on his favourite subject. “It is however only for beginners. Over several years of study I have determined the best place to hide from a human is where they just were. Humans have linear minds and they often forget to look back unless it is on their time as a dance teacher in a disco, so going into the room they just left is a safe method of staying out of sight”. The kittens were confused by the notion of dance and disco but they already knew how to stay out of sight. It had gotten them to KA.

The kittens’ final lesson for the day was with Elsie. It was how to ignore humans. Elsie does not ignore her humans. She is a dog. But Elsie had been subjected to more than 100 cats in the last decade and she has the ability to ignore things down to a fine art. Only special kittens like Baba ever get through to Elsie. Elsie started their lessons by having them lie on the living room floor and stay still while she and the Faculty tried to distract them. Dog and cats booped their noses, sniffed at them, walked by with toys in their mouths and food smeared on their whiskers until eventually the kittens were able to ignore the passing parade and fall asleep next to Elsie.

Now they just needed some humans to apply their arts to.

By Saturday evening the kittens were feeling much more like cats and Acro told them they should enjoy Sunday as a day of fun before their return to the shelter. The kittens spent the day rumbling with Custard, playing in the cat run with Logie and Eddie and occasionally finding an Academy lap to lie on. Sadly though Monday morning came way too quickly and they had to say fond farewells to the Faculty when DJ put them in a carrier and took them to OAW on her way to work.

At the front desk DJ was explaining to the shelter worker how her husband’s game of cards with one of their cats had been interrupted by the arrival of two strange kittens when a lady behind her saw Skittles and Fisher. It was love at first sight. Well it was for the kittens and the woman but when she said her name was Beth and she was transporting rare spiders DJ beat a hasty retreat to deal with creatures with two legs.

When Beth said she was interested in adopting a pair of kittens Skittles and Fisher sat upright on the desk. When she mentioned she lived in sunny and warm California Skittles and Fisher immediately climbed all over her like she smelt of tuna. Beth was besotted and the kittens were hopeful and all three spent the time while OAW scanned the kittens and made all the necessary phone calls getting to know one another. As each check was made Beth and the kittens became more and more anxious. Were they going to be a family? When Vee finally smiled and said “they’re yours” one human and two kittens leapt up and high fived each other. Skittles missed but Beth figured it would not be the last time she got a cat’s paw up her nostril and just hugged Vee. Soon Beth and her clan were on their way with Skittles and Fisher settling into their carrier and sending off loving vibes to the Faculty and to the humans who had such an amazing and generous family of cats.

The End

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