Share Button

A Most Unusual Cat

Professor Arnold was testing a new chemical in his basement lab. He hoped it would make plants grow faster. He was just about to inject some of the chemical into a row of seedlings when he heard the telephone ring. He raced up the stairs.

Princess, the family cat, slipped into the lab through the open door. She sniffed at a cabinet on the floor. Then she leaped up onto a shelf and walked along it, looking at all the plants. She stretched up to sniff at the shelf above. Suddenly her paws tipped it over. Pots of plants came toppling down and crashed on the floor. Professor Arnold's hypodermic needle rolled off the shelf and plunged downward.

Princess screeched. The needle had stuck her. Before she could shake it off, some of the chemical was injected into her. Princess leaped out through the open door and raced up the stairs. Professor Arnold never did find out what had caused the mess in the lab.

More than a month later, Princess presented the Arnold family with a surprise. "Princess has a kitten, Mark!" Marcy shouted.

"Only one?" Mark asked. 'Let's get a box for her. She'll be having some more soon."

But though the Arnold children watched and waited all afternoon, Princess did not have any more kittens.

They called the new kitten Sammy. He was a very strange kitten. Kittens are born with their eyes closed, and they stay shut tight for more than a week. But Sammy opened his eyes the very first day. And before he was a week old, he was scampering around the house.

"That's a most unusual cat," said Professor Arnold.

Unusual indeed. One day Mark was sprawled out on the floor doing his Social Studies homework. "What's that?" said a tiny voice behind him.

Mark turned around. But no one was there -- that is, except for Sammy. The kitten snuggled up to him. Mark scratched his head, and the kitten arched his back and purred.

"Did you hear somebody say something, Sammy?"

"When?" asked the tiny voice.

Mark blinked. Sammy was talking!

Mark raced downstairs to tell his parents about their talking cat. At first Professor Arnold thought Mark was joking -- until Sammy opened his mouth and said, in his tiny voice, "something smells good. I'm hungry."

In the weeks that followed, all of the Arnolds spent hours each day with their unusual kitten. Sammy learned quickly. Soon he knew as many words as Mark and Marcy. They read him stories from books and began to teach him to do arithmetic. When the children were in school, Sammy followed Mrs. Arnold around the house, asking "What's that?" or "What are you doing?" every other minute. Sometimes he went to the store with her. It was hard for Sammy to keep quiet. But the Arnolds had warned him never to talk when strangers were around. Professor Arnold did not want the newspapers to find out about Samy until he had had a chance to study the unusual kitten. So Sammy just listened and learned.

In the evenings, Professor Arnold often gave Sammy tests. But Sammy usually wound up asking Professor Arnold more questions than the Professor asked him. The one answer neither of them could ever find was how Sammy got to be so smart, for neither of them knew about the day Princess visited the lab. And Princess couldn't tell them.

Early in July, the Arnold family saluted off for a weekend trip to the mountains. They had left Princess with a neighbor, but they took Sammy with them. He rode in a cat carrier, on the back seat next to March and Mark.

It was a long drive to the cabin in the mountains. After a while, the children fell asleep. Even Mrs. Arnold was dozing when Mr. Arnold parked the car next to the general store to pick up some last-minute supplies. Perhaps he was a bit sleepy, too. For he forgot to set the parking brake.

The street was on a steep hill. Suddenly Sammy noticed that the car was moving. It was rolling down the hill.

"Wake up, everybody," said Sammy in his tiny voice. "We're moving!"

No one heard him. They were all sound asleep. The car was rolling faster.

Sammy scratched and bit at the wires of the cat carrier, talking all the while: "Wake up, Marcy! Wake up, Mark! Wake up, Mrs. Arnold. Somebody please wake up and do something quick, or we're going to crash!" But his tiny voice only made Marcy stir and curl herself up into a more comfortable position on the seat beside him. She and her brother and mother were still fast asleep.

The car hit a bump in the road and turned slightly. Now it was heading for the side. Sammy looked up and saw a telephone pole ahead. It was getting closer each second. He was so frightened, he forgot about talking. He just opened his mouth and screamed out the loudest Meow he had ever meowed in his life.

Inside the general store, Professor Arnold was just paying at the counter. He lifted his head suddenly. "Did you hear something?"

The storekeeper shook his head, but Professor Arnold went to the door to look out. His car was speeding down the hill, heading straight for a pole. He dashed out after it -- but he would never get to it in time. Then, at the last minute, the car suddenly swerved back onto the road and stopped sharply.

Sammy's meow had finally awakened the family. After one startled glance out the windshield, Mrs. Arnold had grabbed the wheel and jammed on the brake.

After they recovered from their fright, the Arnolds had to laugh. "We have a talking cat, and he saved our lives by meowing!"


©1973, 2013 The Silversteins