Santa Claus Eats Cats!
Matthew is a big orange tabby cat. He has a sweet face with wide, round kittenish eyes. Until recently he lived with three female cats, now two female cats. It's been a long time since Matthew had a few male buddies as housemates and he especially missed his all time favorite cat buddy, a big orange tabby like himself that humans called Bruiser. Bruiser did live up to his name as he was a big fellow, though as gentle as a lamb. Bruiser was the head cat of the then 6 cats living in the human household and Matthew adored him.
One day Bruiser was gone and recently, a female housemate cat, Lucy, also suddenly was gone. Matthew fretted about it all as co-cats seemed to come and go in the human household and Bruiser wasn't sure what it all meant. For the past several human months Bruiser has been feeling some aches and pains in his joints and it's all made him a bit grouchy.
And while Bruiser tolerates his female co-cats, the youngish Lily will pluck his very last nerve from time to time.
Matthew wasn't sure what happened to Lucy except she spent a few weeks under the couch while the humans called and cajoled her. Matthew, familiar with the ways of cats, knew that Lucy was sick by her behavior, so did the humans for that matter, but Lucy wasn't old, darn she was five years at least younger than Matthew. Matthew heard the humans fussing over Lucy, debating whether to take her to the Vet. Matthew hated the Vet and hoped Lucy wouldn't have to go. He wanted Lucy to get better and for awhile it appeared that she would. Finally Lucy evidently went to the same place as Matthew's hero, Bruiser, as well as some other co-cats that died of old age as all creatures do.
The humans have pictures of all the pets they've had through the years and while human written language is something beyond Matthew's ken, he's seen the humans' picture of something called Rainbow Bridge on their wall with pictures of the former co-cats who now live there, including Bruiser's picture. Matthew figured he would someday also go to this Rainbow Bridge place but he hoped it wouldn't be for a long time. For now he'll settle for a rambunctious life with Lily and a peaceful co-existence with Lisa. Matthew sure would like to know that his best buddy Bruiser is okay and waiting for him at Rainbow Bridge, maybe even say Hi to Lucy.
Lily is just an unbelievable cat, always getting into trouble, always declaring whatever suited her fancy as her domain. At times she demanded control of the communal food bowl and jumped on everybody that tried to get around her for a bite. Lily teased poor Lisa so much, at times even causing the long-haired black cat turmoil as she used the litter pans, something considered forbidden in the world of proper cat protocol.
It was when the humans put up what they call their Christmas tree that Lily got totally unbearable.
All the cats get a bit excited when the humans go changing things as a house cat's life can be very routine, some would say dull. Cats are creatures that mostly like routine being creatures that sleep over 20 hours a day. Still a change in scenery and routine is most welcome if not too often or disrupting, the change from the normal being the sort of thing that makes the routine more precious when normal returns.
Indeed Matthew too got excited when the humans got out the Christmas tree thing. Whatever the thing was for, it always had flashing lights and hanging things and boxes all around it. Everything a cat loves can be found around or on a human Christmas tree. And when the humans got out the Christmas tree they also added lots of things around the house, pretty colorful items of red and green, sock things to hang on a door frame, stuff with bells, shiny objects….a cat's love.
Of course Lily considered it all for her and this just made Matthew mad. What with Matthew being so much bigger than Lily Matthew could slap Lily back to her unrestrained senses and at times, in complete exasperation, he did. Lily would run screaming from Matthew's big swatting paws and too often the male human would yell, his yelling directed at the frustrated Matthew. Matthew was, after all, just fighting for his right to sit by the human Christmas tree, to swat at a hanging bell, to lay upon an opened gift.
"Santa Claus eats cats!"
This phrase shouted by Lily during one swat session that Lilly needed for her refusal to allow him access under the human Christmas tree caused Matthew to stop in shock.
As Matthew figured, this Santa human was a jolly guy, a big human but that didn't bother Matthew. He was, after all, a big cat. The thought of the Santa person eating cats scared Matthew more than he ever wanted to let Lily know. But Lily sensed that her words somehow scared Matthew and in the days leading up to the expected Santa visit Lily repeated the warning that Santa ate cats over and over.
Matthew has lived many of the human Christmas' for his years but so far as he knew Santa never visited his humans' home. Or if he did, Matthew slept right through it. This year was different in a way because the human girl grandchild and her parents would be spending Christmas eve with Matthew's humans. As Matthew heard his female human explain to his male human, they don't want to be driving far on Christmas day as there's an expectation of a bad snow storm. So the plan was for them all to come to Matthew's house and Santa would somehow be directed to deliver the human grandchild's gifts here.
Matthew tolerated all the human uproar once the human girl grandchild and her parents arrived, their loud talk, the little girl looking for him like she always does and Matthew, like he always does, hid under the bed, safe from small hands. He did hear all the talk about this Santa human coming down the chimney and Matthew decided he would stay far away from any human who ate cats. Not that Matthew believed that lying Lily but just in case.
And so Matthew waited nervously after all the humans finally went to bed. He couldn't resist a peek out from under the bed but he was a bit scared. He actually began to shiver when he heard the loud "HO! HO! HO!" coming from the roof for it would seem that Santa would be visiting his house this year as promised to the human girl grandchild.
Matthew did his best to stay hidden under the couch as the Santa human placed those present things under the tree. It’s a cat curiosity thing. For even though Matthew feared this Santa human who eats cats, he couldn’t help but be intrigued by the big red human. The Santa human, however, saw Matthew’s orange paw and before Matthew could run he was being held by the Santa human.
“My aren’t you a big boy?” the Santa human said, stroking Matthew in a way he quite liked. Matthew shivered in his fear that he would soon become Santa’s snack that the human girl grandchild said she had to leave for Santa.
With a booming voice that again startled Matthew, the Santa human bellowed a Ho! Ho! Ho! “Who told you that I eat cats?” Santa asked Matthew, only the Santa human didn’t quite “ask” in the same way Matthew’s humans asked what he wanted when he meowed. In fact, the Santa human’s mouth didn’t even move but somehow, to Matthew’s surprise, the Santa human knew of his fear of being eaten and told him about it without making a human sound.
“Hmmmm,” the Santa human said in muse, still stroking Matthew until, with no power left to resist, Matthew began to purr, “I see you’re worried about your co-cat Lucy and your buddy Bruiser”. Matthew purred on as the Santa human stroked, still amazed at how this Santa human “spoke” to him.
“Come on,” the Santa human said, “let’s go for a ride”. And before Matthew could utter a meow of protest he was soaring through the sky on the Santa human sled that didn’t resemble his humans’ cars in any way. The Santa human talked to his reindeer in the same way he talked to Matthew.
“Yes, Matthew, Lucy and your buddy Bruiser, and Liberty, and Ernie and Julio, and Gloria, and Jimmy, and Phantom, and Pinky and Cleetus and Herb and Liberty, they’re all here.”
Matthew did remember some of the names the Santa human mentioned. Some of the pets Santa named were the human pets before Matthew came to live with them. Matthew didn’t know this but he sure knew the big dog Gloria and Jimmy and a couple of others. Some of them were playing, some were drinking from the sparkling stream running under the Rainbow Bridge. Matthew tried to catch his friend Bruiser’s eye but couldn’t.
“No, Matthew, you can’t talk to your friend Bruiser,” the Santa human said, again surprising Matthew who was trying to grasp a concept of reading minds, much less with a cat brain at that. “But you can see them and you can only see them because I brought you here. See, I can ride up in the clouds in my sleigh. So for all your fear that I eat cats, you’re kind of lucky I came to your home tonight.”
Matthew settled in the Santa human’s arms and purred as he watched his former co-pets frolic in that place called Rainbow Bridge. Evidently his own humans knew about this place judging by the pictures on their wall. Matthew paused his purr as he considered when it might be his time to go to Rainbow Bridge.
“You still have quite a few years before you’ll be joining your friend Bruiser, Matthew. Your co-cats now, Lily and Lisa and that new black kitten coming to your house tomorrow morning all need you around for your comfort and great head-lickings. And don’t forget that dog which you adore. Just know that you will be with them all again when the time comes.”
The Santa human settled down again in the driver’s seat of the sled-car and Matthew gazed in wonder at the stars and clouds passing by his kittenish eyes. Matthew also wondered what the Santa human meant by his reference to the new black kitten.
“You shall see tomorrow morning, Matthew. And tell that Lily that the only cats I eat are calicos named Lily,” the Santa human said.
The next thing Matthew heard was the shouts of the human girl grandchild shouting to her parents to come see the gifts Santa left under the tree. All of the humans came out from their bedrooms and Matthew looked around for the human Santa.
Then Matthew heard a small meow. “A KITTEN!” the human girl grandchild shouted and to Matthew’s surprise there was, indeed, a small black and white fellow walking out from under the human Christmas tree. Matthew heard his human female tell his human male that the kitten was a gift for him, that the house needed the joy of a kitten after losing Lucy.
Matthew’s eyes followed the kitten as he played with the wrapping paper stuff torn off with vigor from the human girl grandchild’s gifts. Matthew listened to the sounds of the humans, he watched the kitten play, he smelled something good being cooked by his human female.
Matthew settled down in his private nook and began a good nap.
“Lucy's at Rainbow Bridge,” Matthew heard the human girl grandchild say.
“Now, now, there’s no such place,” Matthew heard the human girl grandchild’s father say. “But it’s a nice thought,” the man finished.
“You don’t know that there’s no such place, Daddy,” the human girl grandchild told her father. “It’s a part of heaven only it’s a place where pets to wait for their humans to get them before they all go to heaven.”
Matthew saw the human girl grandchild’s father pat her on the head indulgently. Matthew settled down for his nap in his private niche, a feline smile tugging at the corner of his mouth.
This time Matthew knew more than the humans around him. He also knew way more than that silly Lily will ever know.