by Neva Bodin
This story tickled my memory recently after listening to a cat conflict story by friend Gayle Irwin. I had submitted this to Chicken Soup for the Soul with no acceptance. But I choose to share it with you now:
Perhaps the two hated each other because one was born into the family, and one was adopted. For whatever reason, the staring, stiff posturing, and howling growl would commence when the two were near each other, and sometimes the nearness was planned.
This bothered the other resident and guardian of our farm yard—a Blue Heeler/Shepherd mix known as Smoky Blue. He considered himself in charge of all farm animals.
The two grumps were the feline inhabitants of the yard. Penny, the calico couch potato, was born into the family, as her mother’s family had belonged to the farm for generations. Bitzy, the tiger and white hunter, was dropped off as a very tiny kitten by someone passing by, and showed her gratitude for being adopted into the family by catching all manner of vermin, bringing them proudly to the front door and meowing until noticed. (She finally started eating the birds under the steps and not showing these conquests to me after I scolded her a few times.) Once she even brought two small weasels to the front door for me to admire.
The cats’ bickering was too much for Smoky Blue, the cow-dog. He wanted peace in the family.
I didn’t realize how much it bothered him until one sunny morning, I looked out the kitchen window, and noticed Penny slowly, and obliquely, picking a path that headed toward Bitzy, who was daring Penny’s continued approach with a sizzling stare of hate. Trouble was brewing.
After studying the situation for a minute, Smoky began walking slowly toward the converging path of the two cats. As they got within a few feet of each other, Smoky walked between them.
Both cats began walking also, giving each other the evil eye, and Penny tried to edge closer, perhaps planning to add a slapping paw in Bitzy’s direction. Smoky was having none of it.
As they moved across the yard, Smoky’s black nose started nudging Penny away from Bitzy. Not giving in easily, it took him a walk of about 50 feet before the cats realized they’de been out-maneuvered, and the plan for a fracas would have to be abandoned for now.
When the dog realized he’d succeeded, he stopped and watched as the two headed in opposite directions, then trotted back to the house to lay by the front step.
I couldn’t resist going to the front door to pat his velvety, black head and praise his accomplishment. He probably didn’t know what brought that on, as he was only doing his job as he saw it. But he looked up with a doggy grin, and I could imagine him saying, “Aren’t they ridiculous?”