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The Cat Who Never Cried

On a sunny day in April, the Jones' calico cat gave birth to five kittens. There were two little girl kittens who looked just like their mother. Two little boy kittens were white with orange spots. The third little boy kitten was different. He had orange stripes like a tiger.

Many times a day the kittens drank their mother's milk. They grew quickly. Soon they opened their eyes, and then they started to crawl out of their box.

The Jones family noticed that the tiger kitten was different from the rest. when the other babies were hungry, they cried. But the tiger kitten never cried. When the other kittens got lost in a dark corner, they cried for their mother. But not the tiger kitten. Even when Mr. Jones stepped on the tiger kitten's tail by accident one day, the kitten did not cry.

When the kittens were two months old, their mother took them outside every day. All the kittens stayed in the yard, close by the Jones' house. All except the tiger kitten. He wandered up and down the street. He looked at the people, the houses, and the cars. Each day he went farther.

One day a big brown dog saw the tiger kitten. He chased him down the street and around the corner. The kitten stopped at the curb for a second. Cars were coming. But the dog was right behind him now. He slipped between two cars and raced across the street. He ran down that street and up another. Finally he stopped and looked behind him. The big dog was not there.

The kitten sat down to catch his breath. He washed his paws and looked around. The street was strange. The houses were strange. He was lost.

Most kittens would have cried. But not the tiger kitten. He wandered on, trying to find his way home.

It was getting dark now. The tiger kitten was tired and hungry. Then he noticed a delicious smell coming from the next house.

It was the Parker home. Mrs. Parker was frying hamburgers. Suddenly she looked up. There, sitting on the windowsill, was a small orange-striped kitten. He was sniffing the air. Then he leaped down onto the kitchen floor.

Cats cry when they are hungry. But the tiger kitten did not cry. He just rubbed against Hrs. Parker's ankles and purred.

"What a cute little kitten," said Mrs. Parker. She gave him some hamburger and a bowl of milk.

The little kitten now became a member of the Parker family. They called him Tiger. He loved Mrs. Parker, who fed him. He loved Mr. Parker, who played with him. He even loved the Parker baby, who sometimes pulled his tail.

The hot summer months went by, and then the fall. The winter snows came, and then the warm spring days melted them. Tiger was a big cat now. He prowled all over the neighborhood, looking for adventures. He had fights with other cats and narrow escapes from dogs. But he never cried.

The baby was bigger, too. He was almost ready to walk by himself. (He could walk if somebody held his hand.) He could say "Mama" and "Dada," and he called Tiger "Diddy."

One warm spring day, Mrs. Parker put the baby out in the playpen in the yard. Tiger curled up in a patch of sunshine next to the playpen and went to sleep.

Suddenly he woke up. Somebody was patting him -- somebody he didn't know. It was Mary Lou, a little girl who lived in the apartment house on the corner. Mary Lou had no one to play with.

"I have an idea," she said. "Why don't you and that baby come to my house, and we'll have a tea party."

So she lifted the baby out of the playpen and led him up the street. Tiger followed right behind them.

Up the elevator they went, to the third floor. Mary Lou's mother was not home. She took the baby and the cat out to the balcony and played with them for a while. Then she heard her mother calling from inside the apartment.

"Mary Lou, are you out there? Hurry, it's time to go visit Granny."

Mary Lou rushed in from the balcony. She was excited. Her Granny always gave her treats when she came to visit. She forgot all about the baby and the cat. She and her mother left the apartment and locked the door.

Tiger sat in the sun and washed himself while the baby walked around the railing, holding onto the bars. He looked out through the bars. It was a long way down. He did not realize how far it was.

Then the baby climbed up on Mary Lou's little chair. He leaned out over the railing. He tried to reach out to the cars below. They looked like toy cars.

Tiger saw the baby leaning over the railing. He knew the baby was in danger. He knew the baby might fall. He opened his mouth to cry. But no sound came out. He tried again. He made a tiny squeak. The baby turned around. Tiger tried again, and a big "Meow" came out this time. The baby was surprised. He had never heard Tiger cry before.

"Diddy, Diddy," he said. He climbed down off the chair and began to pat Tiger. But soon he climbed up on the chair again. Tiger opened his mouth and cried even louder. He howled and yowled. People in the street looked up. A man rushed over just as the baby toppled over the rail. He caught the baby in his arms.

Tiger had cried for the first time. And his meows had saved the baby's life.




©1972, 2013 The Silversteins