My Book: The Cats of Stony River


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
This is just a fun book about a nice little mountain town, great friends, and some very special cats. There's no romance or real violent junk, just a few cuss words, and it's all about life's ups and downs.

I wrote this in 2005 - 2006 so it's a bit dated.

Enjoy and feel free to comment!

Also I put it in bigger print so it's easier to read (at least for old buzzards like me).

Hugs, Saav


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
Chapter 1: Pook, Saav, and Bart

The tiny kitten lay in a sweltering fever, panting, so thirsty but unable to lift her head or even get up to drink from the puddle less than six inches away. She was dying, but she wasn’t afraid or sad. Anything would be better than this miserable, painful existence. She could hardly breathe; her chest felt full of water, as if she were drowning slowly. Cuts, gashes, and bruises burned and stung her whole body as the hard rain pelted the sore places and the harsh wind tugged and snatched at her scruffy fur.

“Come on,” whispered a voice in her ear. She felt fierce licking on her head but was too weak to respond. “Only about ten feet. You got to.”
“You go,” she rasped in a whisper. “Leave me. Just go.”
“I’m not leaving you,” said the other kitten stubbornly, frantically licking at the sick kitten’s face.
“Go,” she said.
“Not without you. C’mon.”
The sick kitten didn’t have time to answer as the world closed in, dark and silent, around her. She didn’t even have the time to say good-bye to her loyal friend.

A half-grown kitten awoke with a frightened start, and for a moment she thought she was again left out in the rain, abandoned, injured and ill, unable to help herself get to the safety of the small cottage that lay ten feet away.
“Saav, you had your bad dream again,” said her friend and sister, Pook. She looked up at the bigger kitten, also half-grown.
Her savior. The kitten who stood by her and yowled up a storm until the human in the house came outside to see what the noise was all about.
“Maybe,” Saav sighed, curling up next to Pook, “maybe someday the dream will go away.”

“When you finally convince yourself you’re really safe,” Pook said gently. “You went through an awful lot, trying to get well. Give it a little more time. More time to eat all you want, more time to sleep in warm places, more time for all the fresh water you can hold, and more time for these good memories we’re building today to take the places of the bad dreams of old yesterdays.”
“More time,” purred Saav sleepily. “Yeah. Just a little more time…”


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
Upon rising later that morning in the middle of July, Joyce Becker knew it was going to be another scorching, humid day in the mountains of western North Carolina, and on her way down the hall to the kitchen, Joyce paused at the thermostat and ratcheted the central air conditioning down a couple of degrees. She had two cats and a wolfdog, and she was constantly being reminded that her housemates wore fur coats, even in the summer, and not the kind to be taken off, dry-cleaned, and hung up in the closet wrapped in plastic during the warm months.

The two cats, barely a year old and still kittens, were sentient beings. They talked, read, used computers and telephones, had senses of humor, and definitely had ideas of their own while remaining fairly feline as well. Joyce had no idea where they had come from, but ten months ago, a strange band of feral cats had come through their tiny hometown of Stony River. It had been a strange time for the townspeople as stories and tales of the feral cats singing and telling stories long into the night in the valleys and ridges began to circulate.

Most of these stories had come from mountain campers and hikers at first, and then from the vacationers with remote getaway cabins in the mountains. Soon the townspeople became curious and decided to check out these tales, and several hiked the ridges and camped in the valleys, and heard the cats for themselves. A handful of people had seen them, and one got a couple of pictures of a group of cats sitting in a circle high on a ridge west of the town, but no one could tell whether they were singing, talking, or just yowling.

These two lost and hungry kittens had shown up in Joyce’s backyard, having been left behind when the clowder moved on further into the mountains. The grey and white one sat next to a nearly dead little black kitten, squalling, screaming and yowling as loudly as she could. From the first day, they made their speaking talents known out of necessity. Their other talents developed as they were taught how to read and use a computer and a telephone.

They weren't blood sisters, but they were born within a day of each other and had been raised together. The little black one, Saav, was the first to speak to her, delirious in fever, telling Joyce that she didn't feel well, and that she hurt all over. Pook spoke up at that point, figuring that the worst that could happen at this point would be this human possibly killing the kittens out of fear. She asked if Saav could get some help, as she was worried about her, and told the human she had watched as another, older cat in the clowder died painfully after making the same wheezing, rasping sounds Saav was making, and she knew her friend and sister was in trouble.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
Saav had been the one the band had left behind; Pook chose to stay with her and try to help her, and got her to the nearest house.
The only outward sign of alarm was the human’s hands shaking a little as she grabbed them up and tucked them inside her raincoat.
Pook, who had never been touched by a human before, trembled in terror. What have I done? she wondered. Have I killed us?

Joyce took both kittens to the vet immediately and discovered that not only did the scruffy little black kitten have pneumonia, she had wounds all over her from the clowder’s bigger kittens fighting her away from food and water. Pook was severely malnourished, and was put on vitamins and special food along with Saav. With medication and loving care, the frail little Saav recovered, but because of neglect and illness, the vet thought that her growth might have been stunted but otherwise would survive and even thrive. Pook, she felt, would do well and grow normally.

Joyce spent a few days in shock and disbelief with these two talking, sentient kittens, afraid to tell anyone, but she gradually got used to the fact that some cats were very, very different from others. It was such a shock that she took three days’ vacation from work, claiming a family emergency had occurred and she was needed. That excuse wasn’t too far from the truth. She closed herself up in her cottage and didn’t answer the phone or talk to anyone in the outside world. Well-meaning friends and relatives were politely turned away at the door, Joyce claiming stomach flu. That was pretty effective; no one wanted that.

Saav was very ill, and required nearly round-the-clock care. It was so surreal to Joyce that at first that she went through a bottle of wine in the first four days of sentient kitten ownership. It was impossible to fathom. And who would ever believe her? And if this news got out, what if the kittens fell into the wrong hands? She had never told anyone, and cautioned the rambunctious, impetuous and mischievous kittens not to speak to anyone else, for fear that someone might take them and exploit them…or worse. And so the secret remained confined within the walls of the little cottage, keeping the kittens safe.

As the days turned into weeks, Saav got stronger. Pook began improving immediately, but the weaker, sick Saav took quite a bit longer to recover. After almost a month of care, she began to run and play with the others, who were careful to be gentle. Joyce introduced them to books during their recovery, a quiet activity that kept them alert and learning but not so physically active until they were stronger.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
When Saav could finally sit up for longer periods, she taught them how to use the computer, and set up
learning programs for them, much like home-schooling for young human children.
At night, tucked in her double bed, hearing the whispering, keyboard noises and mouse clicking from the computer room across the hall, Joyce often shivered with amazement, praying for their continued safety.

"Morning, Mom," said Pook, sitting on the counter in the kitchen. At first the kittens had called their owner by her name, but after learning to read and then learning about and understanding human families, they asked if they could use “Mom.” They liked the idea that human families stayed together, instead of the feline way in which kittens were almost always separated from their mothers before they were full-grown and very few, if any, ever knew who their fathers were.

"Morning, Pooks," she answered, finding her way to the coffeemaker. Saav came in from the living room and greeted them. It was a favorite morning ritual; greetings, followed by oysters or sardines and warm milk for the kittens’ breakfast, and a visit with Joyce as she got ready for work. This before-work visit was actually a romp, as the kittens tried to make it as difficult as possible for the hapless human to get dressed. Joyce called it “PookandSaavotage.”

The routine was going to be interrupted by one thing today, though. Pook and Saav were going to work for a friend, Carrie Sullivan, who had a rodent problem in her antique shop downtown. The kittens would spend the day there ridding the building of the unwanted pests, and the little cats were looking forward to something new and different. They had known Carrie all their lives, and were excited to finally see her shop.

"I like Carrie," smiled Saav as she pawed Joyce’s pen out of her tote bag and whacked it across the bed.
"I do too, Saav," she said. "She is a wonderful person."
“I like her jewelry,” Pook commented. “She wears pretty stones.”
"You girls are going to have a blast there," said Joyce, putting on her shoes. She was a part-time newspaper photojournalist in the nearby larger town of Albemarle, and luckily, was able to dress casually, which included tennis shoes. Her newly-syndicated editorial column was taking off now, allowing her to slow down to three days a week at the paper.
"It'll be fun," smiled Pook, batting Joyce’s watch off the nightstand.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
Joyce had known Carrie for five years, ever since she had moved to Stony River. She had been the first friend she made here, and she loved the gentle, kind, and loving Carrie who had shown her around, introduced her to wonderful people, and even helped her find her tiny two-bedroom home just three blocks from downtown.
"How often will we get to go there?" asked Saav, cramming the pen under the pillows.
"I'm not sure. We'll let Carrie tell us when she needs you and for how long, I guess. Would that work?" Joyce suggested.
"Sure," agreed Saav.
"Depends on how bad the vermin are," said Pook, pouncing on Joyce’s ID card. "If there's tons of em, we're looking at some considerable time. Those suckers reproduce fast and furious!"
Joyce smiled. "Yep, they sure do. Worse than rabbits, I guess," she said.
She snagged her blue cotton jacket out from under Pook, sending her rolling, and tickled her little grey and white belly. Pook giggled and sat up, swatting at Joyce without claws.

The ride in Joyce’s car was as usual, Pook sitting in the passenger side seat looking out the windows, Saav stretched out on the rear window deck between the speakers, baring her fangs at drivers who got too close behind them. Joyce had considered trading in her decade-old Chevy Monte Carlo, but Pook and Saav complained so bitterly about everything she brought home to test-drive that she gave up and decided to keep it. Pook and Saav, this morning, probably wouldn’t have objected to riding in a cart behind a horse, for they were going to see Carrie and her shop for the first time. It was typical of their first year of life; so far, it had been one “first time” after another, and all of them had been exciting.


Pack Leader and Lover
Mar 28, 2012
I'm so happy you decided to share your book with us Saav, it's definitely a fun and entertaining read! :thanks:


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
Great story Saav! Is that why your user name is "Saav"?
Sure is! Pook and Saav are my real-life cats, the inspiration for my book. Thanks!

when do we get to see more of the book? I like it
Thanks! Coming right up!

I'm so happy you decided to share your book with us Saav, it's definitely a fun and entertaining read! :thanks:
Thanks Alpha 1! I loved writing it and I love sharing it.




Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
The two kittens entered Sullivan’s Antiques and Gifts, dutifully following Joyce. Carrie, the short, slightly chunky brunette with the big brown eyes looked up when they came in. She looked as radiant as usual this morning, dressed in a pretty cotton multicolored paisley sleeveless sundress that reached almost to her ankles. Her shoulder-length curly brown hair was swept away from her temples and clasped in the back with a turquoise and silver barrette, and at her throat was a lovely matching choker. Her tanned skin was flawless, and she wore very little makeup. Joyce always thought she was one of the most striking women she'd ever seen, and constantly teased her about using her as an armrest, as Joyce was 5’11". Her friendship with Carrie was deep and lasting.

Carrie greeted her cheerfully. “Hey there, Joyce, how’re you doing?”
“Hi, Carrie. I’m great! I brought your rodent patrol team,” smiled Joyce, setting the frail little Saav up on the counter. The bigger, green-eyed Pook jumped up next to her sister, and yowled at Carrie to be petted. Saav batted her golden eyes at Carrie and purred loudly.

“Aww,” Carrie cooed, petting them. “They are just adorable. Hard to believe these sweet little things are really killers in disguise.”
“They’re good at seek and destroy, too,” sighed Joyce. “You should see my house. It's scary."
Carrie laughed. “I HAVE seen your house, many times. It looks like cats live there! Why do you think I love coming over?"
Joyce laughed. "Because of my spaghetti?
Carrie poked Joyce's shoulder. "No, it's your animals. I could care less about you."
"Oh, thanks, now I know," smiled Joyce.
"Really, though, I appreciate this so much. So do the Lowerys. There’s a door between here and the restaurant we’ll leave open so they can get back and forth. The Lowerys have promised plenty of treats for every rat or mouse caught.”

Pook and Saav perked their ears forward at this. What luck! The Lowerys owned Lowery’s Porch, the finest seafood place in town, a cat’s heaven. This was going to be fun! Unlimited hunting and treats. They traded a wink and an expectant smile.
Carrie leaned forward and lowered her voice. “I’ve heard something about your cats. Is it true that they can talk? Didn't they come from that weird feral band of cats you could hear singing at night?"

Joyce stared at her friend, alarmed and frightened. She trusted Carrie implicitly, but this question from Carrie was completely unexpected, and something to which she had not considered an answer. Joyce had no idea these kittens would ever be associated with the feral clowder.
“Who spilled?” asked Pook sharply, looking at Joyce. Saav bristled.

The two humans froze, staring at Pook.
Joyce’s heart nearly stopped. Carrie’s eyes went wide and her hand flew to her cheek.
Joyce looked daggers at Pook, and shook her head quickly.
"Well, too bad!" Pook said. "We know we can trust Carrie. Cats KNOW these things. So! Who spilled?"
This outburst from Pook was a complete shock. Joyce couldn’t believe this was happening.

The two women looked at each other, and finally Joyce shrugged. "Well, Carrie, now you know. Just don't tell a soul, please. If this got out --"


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
“Oh my God!” Carrie exclaimed. “It’s true. Wow! Actually somebody who works out there at the paper with you said he distinctly saw and heard both of them talk to him when you brought them to work. Said it scared the hell out of him, and he had heard about the feral cats singing months ago. I think he quit when the cats talked to him, thought he was going crazy. Of course I won't say anything. You have my word on it."
Joyce glared at Pook and Saav. She was upset and frightened, but not angry at the willful Pook and the easily-led Saav. “You girls weren’t supposed to talk at work,” said Joyce sternly. "You knew better."

Pook blinked. Saav washed a paw. On the day they had gone to work with her, they had spoken to a few people briefly and disappeared, making one quit, another take a quick vacation, and yet a third man become extremely nervous around cats. The place never sponsored a “Bring Your Pet To Work Day” again, and Joyce never knew why these three had been upset. Until now, that is.

“We were just bored and decided to mess with a couple people out there. No one believed it anyway,” Saav admitted with a sigh.
“Lucky for you two. And lucky for all of us,” Joyce said firmly. “Remember that article about those specially-trained dogs being kidnapped and held for ransom with no food or water for days and days? You want that to happen to you?”

“We didn’t know people would really do that back then, Mom. We were only messing around, and we really didn’t know how serious our situation was. Not till later, really, when we started reading more about what people can do to animals,” said Saav.
“We know now,” said Pook earnestly. “We do understand how bad things could be for us. It’s just that we knew we could trust Carrie. Please believe us. And we won’t do it again.”
“No, we know now. We haven’t spoken to anyone but you two since,” Saav added. “That’s the truth.”
Joyce, torn between amusement, love, frustration and fear for the kittens could only accept what had just happened. She slowly nodded.
Carrie shook her head in amazement. “Kitties, you can talk to me all you want. Just don’t talk to the customers or in front of them, okay? It might scare them or give somebody a heart attack...or a very dangerous idea about you two. Deal?"

Pook looked truly sorry now, and Saav sighed. For almost a year, they had been wanting to share their secret with someone besides their owner, and they had decided upon Carrie months before. But this should have been discussed with Joyce first, and they knew their mistake. At least she knew now. That was good enough, as they couldn't think of anyone else they wanted to tell.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
“Okay,” said Saav. Pook nodded, and turned her attention to inspecting the counter and the cash register. Saav spied a large glass bowl full of hard candies, and promptly set to exploring it. The people talked as the feline girls checked out the counter and its contents.
"You don't seem all that surprised," Joyce said to Carrie.

Carrie shook her head. "I heard the feral clowder singing, and one time I was walking in the woods and saw them in a circle, and I heard their voices. I thought if they sang like that, they spoke, but I didn't get close enough to hear what they were saying because I didn't want to scare them." She shrugged, and gave a chuckle. "I always figured animals are smarter than we think they are, anyway."
Suddenly there was a loud thump and everyone looked around.

Saav, exploring the candy bowl, had slipped over the edge of it and landed headfirst in the middle of the peppermints. “Gaaaaahh!” she grumbled, scrambling out backwards and landing on her rump on the counter. She righted herself, her tail lashing, and glared at Pook.
“Dummy,” giggled Pook from on top of the antique, 50s-style cash register that was the focal point of the counter.
“Nobody asked you,” growled Saav, then saw both women looking at her. “What are you people staring at?”
“Nothing,” laughed Carrie.

“You two be careful in here,” admonished Joyce. “Don’t break anything, there’re some very beautiful and fragile things in here.”
“Looks like the only thing that we have to worry about is Saav breaking her head,” snickered Pook.
“Oh ha ha,” snarled Saav, baring her fangs at her sister.
“Are they always like this?” asked Carrie.
“No. Sometimes they’re worse,” Joyce replied.

“Oh dear,” said Carrie, raising an eyebrow. “This will be interesting.”
“I’m afraid ‘interesting’ is rather optimistic. I hope you survive it,” Joyce sighed.
“Oh, we’ll be fine,” Carrie assured her. “Won’t we, girls?”
Pook twitched her whiskers and Saav blinked innocently.
“Oh geez, I know that look. Usually when they do that, I come home and discover lamps overturned and my earrings in the litterbox. Good luck, Carrie, I’ll pick them up at five,” said Joyce. “If you need me, you know where I am.”
“I sure do. See you then, and thanks!” Carrie smiled.
Pook and Saav watched her leave, and Carrie put a bowl of fresh water down for them under the counter.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
“Saavy, did you want a peppermint?” Carrie asked.
“I don’t know. Do I?” asked Saav. She’d never had a peppermint before. Pook came over and sniffed at the candy dish.
“Smells…different,” Pook said, frowning. “Kinda like Mom’s toothpaste stuff she uses all the time.”
“Want to try it?” Carrie offered.
Pook and Saav nodded. She took two pieces out, unwrapped the red and white candies, and set them in front of the cats.

“Just lick it,” she advised. “If you bite it, it will splinter and you might not like that much. Those splinters could be sharp for little cat mouths.”
“Hmph,” said Pook, deliberately biting hers into pieces. “Yow! That’s some stout stuff!”

Saav, who had only licked hers a couple of times, backed away a bit. “Phew, that’ll clean your clock. No offense, Carrie, but I don’t think these were made for cats.”
“Absolutely not,” agreed Pook. “But thank you for letting us try them.”
“Yes, thanks, Carrie,” nodded Saav. “It was worth it.”
“It was,” Pook smiled.

Carrie laughed at them as she put the candies in the trash can. “I agree, Saav, I don’t think cats’ tastes were taken into consideration during the making of these things. Go get some water, it’s nice and fresh, and it will help get that taste off your tongues.”
“Okay,” said Pook, and the kittens jumped down and headed for the water bowl.

“So where’s the vermin at?” asked Pook, looking up from the bowl when she was done. “I don’t see any in here.”
“Mostly in the back storage area,” said Carrie, “and in back of the kitchen. The adjoining door is open, and you can go back and forth. They know to expect you.”
“Okay, we’ll go see what we can find. C’mon, Saav, let’s get to work.” The kittens bounded through the shelves and furniture and together with tails high and ears perked, they trotted through the back door of the showroom.

“I don’t know how to hunt,” said Saav as they entered the dusty storage room. She sneezed.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
“Sure you do. It’s an instinct that you just never learned to use because you never were able to. You were too little, then you got too weak and sick. Once you get the scent of a mouse, it all wakes up and it will come naturally,” Pook assured her. They kept going toward the back of the storeroom, and sure enough, one scurried across the floor.
“Aha!” said Pook. “Smell that?”
“Wooo, yeah, let’s go get em,” said Saav, her whiskers and tail twitching.

Pook was the first to corner it and charge, and in two violent shakes, the mouse was limp and still between her teeth.
“Dang,” marveled Saav. “What kind of neighborhood did you come from, anyway?”
Pook dropped the mouse. “Same as yours, silly. See how that works?”
“Um, I think so,” said Saav, frowning.
“Okay, good. You get the next one. Where are we supposed to put these?”
“Hmmm. I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Carrie? She might want them in the trash or something,” Saav suggested.
“I’ll do that. You go find the next victim.”

Amazed at the instincts waking up in her, Saav realized the sentient and the feline sides of her were much more different from each other than she expected. However, spoiled by treats and very good food, she had just never developed a taste for mice or rats. Perhaps that would have been different, had she been healthy and remained with the clowder, she wondered.

She looked around, sniffing, as Pook left for the front. Soon she caught the strong smell of mouse…or what she thought might be a mouse. She tracked it and soon, she found herself face-to-face with a snarling, angry wharf rat almost as big as she.
Gathering up her courage, Saav charged. The big rat fought back, but Saav held her ground. Clawing and biting, she and the rat rolled around the floor under and over each other when suddenly something heavy came down on them and the rat went limp. Saav looked up and saw Pook’s teeth had gone through its neck.
“You okay?” asked Pook after tossing the rat aside.

“Gaaahhhh,” said Saav, licking at a bite on her left front paw. “That little monster put up a fight.”
Pook laughed. “You would find a huge one your first time out. Good job, though.”
“Couldn’t have done it without you, Pooks. Good thing I don’t have to feed myself by hunting, I’d starve.” Saav spat out a chunk of rat fur and skin, shuddering. “Wooooo! Those things taste gross. Now where are we supposed to put these things?”
“Actually, they taste good. That is, if you aren’t used to eating really good stuff like we do. Then you’d have to develop a taste for them. Carrie’s coming back with an extra mop bucket she’s putting outside the door. We’re supposed to drop them in there. She seemed surprised we weren’t interested in eating them,” replied Pook.

“Eat them? Eww! We don’t know where they’ve been!” exclaimed Saav disgustedly, spitting out more skin and fur. “But that’s what I wondered, if you had to develop the taste. I’d rather stick with our cat food and our people food Mom gives us. Was she disappointed?”
“No. I asked her if raw rodent meat was one of her favorites, and she didn’t seem to think so. Here she comes with the bucket. We’ll put these two in there, go get another one, and see if we can go scratch up some seafood,” said Pook.

Carrie put the rusty metal bucket outside the back door, and propped the door open. “There you go, kitties,” she smiled, then saw the big rat. “Yuck! That was a big one!”
“Yeah, he was,” Pook agreed, digging a clump of rat fur out of her teeth with a claw. “That was Saav’s first one. She did good, didn’t she?”
“We got two so far,” said Saav, grimacing.
Carrie bent down and petted them. “You did beautifully. I’ll go let the Lowerys know you’ll be in soon. Not bad at all for your first ten minutes.”
She stroked Saav’s back, and felt something wet on her hand. Inspecting her hand, she saw her palm was smeared with blood.

“Saavy!” she exclaimed, snatching the kitten up and racing to the showroom. Pook, alarmed, scooted along quickly behind her.
“Ack!” Saav squirmed in Carrie’s hands. “What did I do?”
“You’re bleeding, Saav,” Carrie said, plopping her on the counter.
“Well, you would be too, if you picked a fight with a wharf rat as big as you,” grumbled Saav. “Put me down. I’ll live.”
“Hush. Just let me stop the bleeding and clean it out,” Carrie said firmly as Pook inspected the two-inch-long gash on Saav’s back. Saav twisted around, trying to see it.
“Oh, it’s not that bad,” Saav told them. “I’ve had worse. I’ll be fine, really.”


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
“Hush,” Carrie repeated, pulling a first-aid kit from under the counter and opening it up. “That rat might have diseases and germs that could get into this cut. You think that pneumonia you had was bad? Try rabies or blood poisoning. Now hold still.”
She held some wadded-up gauze against the cut, while Saav sat still, fuming.
“I’m not going to get sick,” Saav argued. “Cats catch rats all the time and don’t get sick.”
“Well, I understand that, but I’m going to make sure you don’t have any problems. Now quit squirming, wigglebutt. This might sting a little,” she said, dabbing at the gash with an alcohol pad.

“YOWWWW!!” Saav howled, and hissed.
“Don’t you hiss at me. Hold still, Saav!”
Saav growled, but held still. “What IS that? Battery acid?”
“Noooo, silly. Just a little alcohol,” Carrie said with a smile.
“Phew! That’s worse than that flea stuff,” Saav grumbled.
“Yeah it is,” snickered Pook. “Yuck, Saav, you reek.”
Saav frowned and growled at her sister. Pook crossed her eyes and wrinkled her nose.
“Okay, just a little antibiotic cream, down the cut, there we go….and you’re done,” said Carrie, looking at the scruffy kitten closely and feeling her skin. “Looks like that was the only bad one.”
“It wasn’t that bad, really,” Saav insisted.
Pook shrugged. “I dunno, Saav, it looked a little deep to me.”
“Did it? I couldn’t really get a good look at it.”
“Yeah,” Pook assured her sister. “It did.”
“Pook, you help Saav keep an eye on that and make sure it doesn’t get infected. If it does, let your Mom know. These alley rats really are full of germs and nasties,” said Carrie.
“I will. We always look after each other,” replied Pook, winking at Saav, who finally smiled.
“Thank you, Carrie,” said Saav.
“You’re welcome. C’mon, let’s get you back to the storeroom,” Carrie said, picking Saav up again. Pook followed them to the back, where Carrie put Saav down on the floor. “I’ll run next door and let them know you’ll be in soon.”

Pook and Saav smiled at her, just as another mouse ran across the floor. The cats took off and dispatched the unlucky mouse quickly, then put all three of them in the bucket.
"Bleah, these things taste awful. I think we’re spoiled,” said Pook.
“No kidding,” Saav agreed, flattening her ears.

Pook washed a bit of mouse blood off a white paw. “Let’s go find some real food. Enough of this fresh-meat-on-the-run thing for now.”
“Good idea, Pooks.” Saav gave her whiskers a quick clean-up.
“Mmmm….I smell shrimp,” Pook said, nosing toward the restaurant.
Saav laughed. “Maybe we should give fishing a try sometime.”
“As long as I can do it from a boat and not get wet,” replied Pook, turning toward the restaurant door.

The girls trotted across the storeroom to the kitchen and walked through, sniffing the tempting aromas of broiled salmon and steamed shrimp.
Ralph Lowery looked down and saw them. “Ahh, and who do we have here?” he boomed. Ralph was a very energetic man with a kind heart in his late forties, who loved people and life. He and Carrie went back over fifteen years as friends, fourteen of those years as building co-owners and businesspeople.
The cats sat at his feet and he gave them a pat on their heads. “I’ll have something downright delightful for you in just a second,” he told them, reaching for two plates. He loaded them up, and put them on the floor in a corner. The cats ran eagerly to the plates, finding a fabulous selection of broiled salmon, fried red snapper, steamed shrimp, crab cakes, and hush puppies.

They dove in as if they were starving. Ralph laughed at the sound of cats smacking their lips and purring at the same time. “I’ll keep those full for you,” he said, and went back to the stove smiling.
Saav belched. “Woooooo, this is good stuff,” she whispered to Pook.
“Mmmmfffppp,” said Pook, her mouth full of crab cake.

They snarfed up everything on their plates, then licked those clean. With a thank-you pass around Ralph’s ankles, they went back through the door into the back room of the store.
“Gaaahhhh,” said Pook, sinking against a box. “I ate too much.”
Saav burped again. “Me too. I need a wash and a nap.”
Pook sighed. “I guess we’d better get back to work,” she said, getting up slowly.
“Ugh,” groaned Saav. “Do we have to? That means I have to move.”
“C’mon, Saav, I think we better.”
“Slavedriver.” Saav sighed and hiccupped.
“Yeah, yeah,” Pook said listlessly, rolling her eyes. “C’mon.”
Saav turned, and saw a shadow around their mop bucket outside in the back. “Wooooo! Someone’s messing with our bucket!”


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
The two cats ran outside, and a big-boned but rather thin orange tabby tomcat had his head in the bucket, sniffing. He looked up as they charged through the propped-open door.
The two girls stopped short when they saw him.
Pook and Saav stared at him, as a sense of knowing passed between them. They recognized each other vaguely, possibly from the feral band, as an orange tabby had been good to them, helping them find food and water. It was nearly a year ago, though, and those memories were fading.

“These yours?” he asked politely.
No surprise there. Pook and Saav traded a look: He is one of us from the clowder! Pook thought he was the one who had helped her to get the sick Saav to food and water. What even better luck!
“Um….not really. You want those?” asked Pook.
“If they don’t belong to anyone, sure,” he smiled. “I wouldn’t want to take your lunch.”
“Help yourself,” replied Saav. “You that hungry?”
The tomcat nodded. “I don’t have a home. I'm always hungry."
Pook and Saav looked at each other again. They knew what that was like, and although they found their home at about six weeks old, they had never forgotten. He looked like he had spent a lot more time on the streets than they had.
“Just a minute,” said Saav. “Come with me, Pooks. We’ll be back, uh…do you have a name?”
“No,” he said sadly.

“We’ll be back,” Saav promised. “Stay right there. Don't go anywhere. I’m going to bring someone back you can talk to. I mean, talk to. Okay?”
“No way,” snarled the tom. “I don’t speak to humans. Only other cats. I will not converse with humans, it is too dangerous. I hope you girls aren’t trying to do that.”
“We talk to the lady we live with and with a lady in there. That’s all. You’ll know when you see her. We did. We’re safe. We wouldn’t do anything to hurt you,” Saav promised. “You’ll feel it down to the tips of your claws. If I’m not right, when you meet her, don’t speak. If you feel what we feel, talk to her. Fair enough?”
He looked from one to the other. “You’d better be right.”
“I am. I promise,” Saav assured him.
“Okay,” he said finally, and sat next to the bucket, curling his tail around himself, and gave them a frown.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
Pook and Saav trotted back inside. “What’s up?” asked Pook. “You look like a cat on a mission.”
“I have an idea. He needs a home, Carrie and Ralph need a mousecatcher. I think the two needs can be met,” Saav explained as they went to the showroom. “What do you think?”

“Now there’s an idea. Plus, he’d eat what he catches, and maybe Ralph would give him leftovers and stuff,” nodded Pook. “Also, he talks. He’d be safe with Carrie.”
“Exactly,” Saav nodded.
The two cats entered the showroom, and found Carrie alone, rearranging a display case of little porcelain figurines.
“Carrie?” Saav asked timidly.

She turned around, and instantly smiled. “Well, there’s my two little mousetraps. What is it, Saav? Is that gash bothering you?”
“Oh, no, it feels all better now. But there’s a cat outside…” Saav began and explained the tomcat’s situation. “We thought maybe you might give him our jobs and maybe he’d have a home.”
Carrie looked at Saav thoughtfully. “Hmm. Where’s the tomcat?”
“Outside, in the back, next to the bucket,” Saav said.
“He’s real nice, and he’s one of us. He talks too,” Pook added.
Carrie put a figurine down on the counter.

“You spoke to another cat this time?” She did not look amused. “Didn’t your Mom and I discuss this with you two just this morning?”
“Carrie, he’s a cat. Not a human. Didn’t we just know with you too?” asked Pook.
“Another one?” she asked a little nervously. “Is he another one of those singing feral cats?”
“We think so, but we don’t know if he was one of the singers, though,” said Pook. “We ran into him briefly, I think, when we first came to the town and found our home. He led us to food and water the other cats didn’t know about. It was the last thing Saav ate or drank for two days, before she almost died on us.”
“He won’t talk to me. He doesn’t know me like you do.”

Saav shook her head. “We knew the moment we met you. I was still real sick, and I felt it. He’ll feel it. I think he’ll talk.”
“This is a little much, girls,” Carrie replied, worried.
“Carrie, he’s hungry. He wants our mouse bucket,” Pook pressed.
Carrie sighed. “Okay. Let’s go see what we have.”
They led her through the back room and out the door. The tom still sat there, and looked up at Carrie with intelligent yellow-gold eyes.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
“Ohhh, you are a handsome kitty,” she told him.
He stared at her. She watched him.
The tomcat took a step toward her, then recoiled back two steps.
“Don’t be afraid, kitty.” She knelt and held her hand out to him.
He just stayed where he was, watching her. Pook and Saav held their breath.

Carrie reached next to her and picked up Saav, cuddling her. “Did you help this one when she was tiny and so sick?”
The tomcat flinched as if Carrie had tugged on a hurtful memory.
“Ah, so you know this one, don’t you?” Carrie said softly.
He twitched an ear but didn’t move.

She reached for Pook, petting her. “Did you help her find food and water? Or did you perhaps find some water somewhere and maybe had something to do with the food getting there, too? Did you?”
His yellow-gold eyes grew huge. Pook and Saav saw him shudder almost invisibly.
“I see,” said Carrie. “So you did. I admire kindness.”
Saav looked pleadingly at the orange tom. Pook gave him an encouraging little smile.
Speak up, dammit! Saav thought with all her might.
Carrie reached out to the tom again, putting Saav down. “I won’t hurt you.”
He froze.
“I know,” he blurted suddenly, looking away.
Carrie jumped a little and laughed. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to talking cats, she thought.

“Well, good. That’s a start. And you are quite handsome,” she smiled.
He sniffed at her. “You smell nice.”
“Why, thank you. You have nice manners, too. I understand you need a home.”
He shrugged and looked at a weed poking through a crack in the pavement.
“Well, how about we work out a business arrangement?” Carrie asked.
He perked his ears up. I like this lady, he thought. “Okay.”

“I need someone to catch mice and keep them out of here and the restaurant next door. I can put in a cat door for you back here, and you can live here in the store. I’d take you home, but I have three dogs that don’t like cats. I’ll make sure you get good food, plenty of fresh water, and all your shots.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
"I’ll be here during the day, six days a week, and on the day I’m not here, I’ll come by and check on you. In return, you keep the rodents under control. How’s that sound?” she said.
He put his head down, and Carrie thought she saw a tear slide down his nose.
“For real? Forever?” he asked in almost a whisper; as if he were afraid to ask.
“For real. Forever. I promise it.”

There were several long seconds as the tomcat and the human regarded each other.
“Thank you,” he replied quietly, finally smiling up at her. “I think that sounds perfect.”
“Wonderful!” Carrie reached down and petted him. “My, you are pretty thin. How old are you?”
“I think I’m almost two years old.”

“Oh, good. When was the last time you ate?” she asked, scratching his head.
“Yesterday, a little.”
“Well, that won’t do. Come along with me,” said Carrie, turning and going back inside. The tom looked at the bucket longingly, but followed her in.
She headed for the door to the kitchen. “Ralph, you got any more leftovers? We have our own cat now,” she said, pointing to the tom. “He needs a home. I thought I’d let him live in the shop and help with the rodent population.”

The tomcat sat in the doorway, practically drooling over the aroma of fresh seafood.
Ralph looked down and laughed. “He’s a pretty one! Sure, let me get him a nice plate.”
He went to the other counter, got out a plate and put the same leftovers from the night before on it that he had given Pook and Saav. “Here you go, fella,” he said, putting the tomcat’s plate next to the girls’ plates in the corner. The cat trotted over, and with a thank-you swish against Ralph’s leg, he dove into his plate, savoring every bite.

Ralph and Carrie watched him. “Have you got a name for him?” asked Ralph.
Carrie shook her head. “Not yet. Any ideas?”
He looked at the cat thoughtfully. “He’s a little thin. Where’d he come from?”
She shrugged. “He showed up in the back, wanting the mice in the bucket,” she said. “I’ve never seen him before. Maybe that feral band.”


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
“Could be. The ones I’ve seen back there won’t come near me.”
“He’s certainly different from the others,” Carrie agreed.
“Bart. How’s that for a name?” Ralph suggested.
Carrie thought about it. “Yeah, Bart. That’s a cute name for him.”
The tomcat lifted his head and looked at Carrie, his eyes lighting up. I like that name, he thought.
“Bart he is. Thanks, Ralph. I better get back to work,” Carrie said, going back through the doorway.
“See ya,” smiled Ralph. He stooped over to pet Bart. “Eat up, good buddy. There’s plenty more here to stick to those bones.”
Bart purred loudly at him.

Pook and Saav, watching from the doorway, looked at each other.
“Dang,” said Saav. “I think we got fired.”
Pook laughed. “No, just replaced.”

“Maybe Mom can bring us back to visit. We’ll see Bart and Carrie, and get more goodies from Ralph,” Saav mused.
“Yeah, maybe she’ll do that,” nodded Pook.
Bart reluctantly stepped away from his half-finished plate. His stomach wasn’t used to a lot of food, and he felt stuffed. Padding over to Ralph, he gave him another thank-you swish, and went through the doorway to find his new friends.
“I couldn’t eat it all,” he told Pook and Saav. “You little ladies are welcome to the rest of it if you like.”
“Thanks, but we’ve already eaten. You’ll want it later,” said Pook.

“C’mon, we’ll show you the water bowl,” Saav suggested, and turning, the three cats went into the showroom. Pook nosed toward the bowl, and Bart went to it, enjoying the taste of the fresh, clean water. The girls and Carrie watched him drink gratefully.
“Poor thing,” sighed Carrie. “He probably has only been drinking dirty water out of puddles.”
“Yuck.” Pook made a face, screwing up her nose.

“I got a guy coming to put the cat doors in this afternoon, and a vet appointment scheduled day after tomorrow,” she added.
Bart looked up from the bowl. “Is that going to hurt?”

Carrie smiled. “Yes. But only for a few days, and you’ll be fine. If you’re good and don’t scratch or bite the vet, she’ll give you treats.”
Bart looked alarmed. “Days?” he repeated, his eyes wide. “What’s going to happen to me?”
“Well, Bart, I want to get you fixed. It’s so that you’ll live longer and not stray away so far,” Carrie explained.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
“Fixed? What’s broken?” he asked her.
“Well, nothing, really, but usually when a cat gets a home, the owners usually like to prevent unwanted kittens,” she replied kindly.
Bart flattened his ears. “You’re going to – oh, no, I’ll be a sissy!”
“No you won’t,” said Pook. “Our neighbor’s cat is fixed, and he’s a terror.”

“We’re fixed, Bart, and we’re okay,” Saav added.
The orange tabby didn’t look convinced. “That’s not exactly something to look forward to,” he said warily.
“You’ll be sore for just a few days, is all. It will help you be healthier and you’ll live longer,” Carrie smiled at him.
“Here? With you and them?” he asked hopefully.
“Here with me,” she said. “The girls don’t live here.”
“Oh.” He looked disappointed, frowning.

Carrie walked over and petted him. He was so thin. “Don’t worry, Bart. And if you’re nice and don’t scratch or bite the vet, she’ll give you real nice treats.”
“But I just got treats,” he said.
Pook, Saav, and Carrie traded a look. “Those were scraps, Bart,” said Saav. “Carrie’s talking about real cat treats, like what candy is to humans.”
“Well, it seemed like a feast to me,” replied Bart. “I couldn’t even finish it all.”

“You haven’t been eating regularly or well, Bart,” said Carrie. “Your tummy isn’t used to being full, and it’s probably shrunk. Don’t worry, you’ll be eating like a pig soon.”
“Oh,” he said, and went back to the water.
Carrie studied him, deep in thought.

“I’ll get him a nice warm cat bed, and put a soft blanket in it and put it over in the corner close to that heat vent.” Carrie was thinking aloud. “Then he’ll be comfortable.”
Bart’s ears perked up. He lifted his head from the bowl again to look at Carrie. She wasn’t watching; she was making a list of things to get for him, but the thoroughly grateful look he gave her made Pook and Saav smile. He was going to be well taken care of now.

I guess the fixing thing will be worth it, he thought, and returned to the bowl of fresh water.
“Girls, what cat food does your Mom feed you?” she asked.
“We’re on adult food now,” said Pook, giving her the name brand and flavor. “You can get it at the vet’s or at a pet supply place.”
“Do you like it?”


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
“Well, I prefer what I got next door, but actually, it’s pretty good,” Saav replied.
“Just get the cheap stuff,” said Bart, coming from around the counter. “Really, I’ll eat anything. That would be fine.”
“Ehh….just what I was afraid of,” laughed Carrie. “Not anymore, big boy. You’re going to eat good stuff now, and regularly.”
He smiled and washed his whiskers with a paw. “I thought of something else I can do. I can deter a burglar pretty well.”

“Oh?” said Carrie.
Bart extended his claws at her and bared his fangs. Carrie raised an eyebrow.
“Ohhh, I see. Rip one to pieces with teeth and claws, huh?”
The orange tabby nodded and went back to washing his face.
“That would deter me,” Carrie agreed. “Okay, just don’t get hurt doing that.”
“I won’t.” He finished washing his face, and looked toward the back room. “Guess I’d better get to work now.”
“We’ll go with you,” said Saav.

The kittens trailed after him, and soon Carrie heard the three cats tearing after another mouse.
The morning and early afternoon passed peacefully except for the mouse massacre in the back until a handyman showed up to install the cat doors in the back door to the storeroom and into the showroom. The moment he cranked up his saw, the mice hid and the cats came flying into the showroom.
“What’s that?” asked Pook, her eyes wild.

“He’s going to have to cut holes in the doors for Bart’s cat doors,” Carrie explained. “That is a saw.”
“Sounds more like a war or something. That thing’s loud!” exclaimed Bart. “Garbage trucks are quieter.”
“How long will this take? The mice got scared, too,” said Saav.
“I don’t know. Probably no longer than a few minutes,” Carrie answered.
“Gaaaahhh! We’ll be deaf by then,” complained Pook.
“I’m getting there already,” frowned Bart.

Carrie smiled at the complaining cats. “I know what you three need. I’ll be right back.”
She went into the back, closing the door behind her, which cut down on the noise and made it a little more bearable on sensitive cat ears.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
A moment later, she returned with three little custard bowls on a tray, and set the bowls on the floor next to the water dish. The cats went to the bowls eagerly, and each found some vanilla ice cream. Pook and Saav immediately began slurping, but Bart sniffed, winced, and looked at it suspiciously.
“What is it? It’s cold,” he said.
“Ice cream. Try it,” Carrie encouraged him.

He cautiously tried a taste. “Hey, that’s good!” he exclaimed, and dove into it. The three cats finished their ice cream a few minutes later and began washing up. Bart looked at the two girls, and then at his own fur. He suddenly realized he was rather dirty and began washing much more vigorously, going after the dirt and grime with a vengeance. Carrie watched him as his colors began to brighten and his stripes began standing out more. The creams and golds lost their dullness and stood out beautifully. His fur became much fluffier, and by the time he was almost through, he looked healthier and fuller. He is a beautiful cat, she thought. Put a little weight on him, he will be even more beautiful.

Bart felt her watching him, and he paused and looked up at her, gave her a wink, and went back to finishing his bath. She smiled.
The racket from the saw stopped. Saav looked toward the door.

“Hope that’s over with,” she muttered, pawing at her ear. Just then a customer walked in, a large, frowsy-looking woman wearing too much makeup, large, gaudy pieces of costume jewelry and a fur coat. Her blue-white hair was done up in a huge bouffant style, which made her head and body look too small for the hair, and she was clutching a huge black purse.

A big fur coat in the middle of July? She’s got to be kidding! thought Carrie. A coat like that? In this weather? What had the police said?
Shoplifter, Carrie realized warily.
Something about this woman made the cats’ own fur coats crawl. Bart flattened his ears, and Pook hissed. Saav fluffed up. Carrie started around the counter to greet her, but Bart got in between them. The woman glared down at Bart and drew back her handbag to hit him.
“Get outta here, cat!” she yelled.

Bart shifted his weight and hissed, his fur standing straight up. She drew the purse back farther.
“You touch my cat and you’ll find yourself arrested,” Carrie said in an ice-laden tone that chilled the cats’ spines from their heads to their tails.
Both Pook and Saav began growling, baring their fangs at her in evil grins.
Bart decided that since he actually lived there now, he didn’t have to put up with this woman, and neither did Carrie. He turned around, backed up to the woman’s feet, hiked his tail high, and sprayed.


Author of The Cats of Stony River
Apr 20, 2016
Western NC
Original Poster
Carrie’s eyebrows disappeared into her hairline and her brown eyes bugged. The woman was aghast; horrified, she fled out of the showroom as fast as she could go, yelling something about evil cats.
There was a moment of stunned silence in the room, with three pairs of eyes on Bart, sitting there nonchalantly smoothing his whiskers. Suddenly he realized he was being stared at and looked up.
“What?” he asked innocently.
The other three broke out laughing. Pook and Saav had never seen feline spraying used as a weapon before, and neither had Carrie. Then the door opened again, and in came Ralph. He had been sweeping the sidewalk in front of the restaurant and saw the woman launch herself out the door shrieking.
He looked at Carrie. The cats dummied up quickly and began washing again. “What’s so funny? What are you laughing at? Sounded like someone else was in here. What happened to that woman?”

“She was going to hit Bart with her purse and I don’t think he liked that idea, so he sprayed her feet,” Carrie said. Pook choked, and Saav coughed. Bart continued to wash.
“He did?” Ralph couldn’t believe it. “Can I borrow him when I get a problem customer?”
“I don’t see why not,” laughed Carrie. “He’s quite effective in public relations, it seems.”
Ralph laughed and shook his head. “You know who that was, don’t you?”
“No,” said Carrie. “Should I?”
“She’s the mayor’s ex-wife, remember when that mess hit the papers last year when she got caught shoplifting at the mall? Then he left her and moved in with that twenty-year-old? That’s the ex.”
“Shoplifting?” Carrie repeated. “I was afraid of that when I saw that fur coat.”
“Fur coat?”
“In July? Think about it.”
“Ohhhh!” Ralph laughed. “Usually I don’t deal with shoplifters. Just unhappy diners.”

Carrie raised an eyebrow again. “Both the mayor and she are in their sixties, aren’t they?”
Ralph nodded. “Yeah, something like that. The twenty-year-old lasted about a year, and moved on to the city, supposedly with some bigtime judge or something. The ex just got out of jail a few weeks ago…again. Bart’s a smart fellow. I bet she won’t be back.”