Three Elephant Power and Other Stories HTML version
Most people think that the cat is an unintelligent animal, fond of ease, and caring little for
anything but mice and milk. But a cat has really more character than most human beings,
and gets a great deal more satisfaction out of life. Of all the animal kingdom, the cat has
the most many-sided character.
He -- or she -- is an athlete, a musician, an acrobat, a Lothario, a grim fighter, a sport of
the first water. All day long the cat loafs about the house, takes things easy, sleeps by the
fire, and allows himself to be pestered by the attentions of our womenfolk and annoyed
by our children. To pass the time away he sometimes watches a mouse-hole for an hour
or two -- just to keep himself from dying of ennui; and people get the idea that this sort of
thing is all that life holds for the cat. But watch him as the shades of evening fall, and you
see the cat as he really is.
When the family sits down to tea, the cat usually puts in an appearance to get his share,
and purrs noisily, and rubs himself against the legs of the family; and all the time he is
thinking of a fight or a love-affair that is coming off that evening. If there is a guest at
table the cat is particularly civil to him, because the guest is likely to have the best of
what is going. Sometimes, instead of recognizing this civility with something to eat, the
guest stoops down and strokes the cat, and says, "Poor pussy! poor pussy!"
The cat soon tires of that; he puts up his claw and quietly but firmly rakes the guest in the
"Ow!" says the guest, "the cat stuck his claws into me!" The delighted family remarks,
"Isn't it sweet of him? Isn't he intelligent? HE WANTS YOU TO GIVE HIM
SOMETHING TO EAT."
The guest dares not do what he would like to do -- kick the cat through the window -- so,
with tears of rage and pain in his eyes, he affects to be very much amused, and sorts out a
bit of fish from his plate and hands it down. The cat gingerly receives it, with a look in
his eyes that says: "Another time, my friend, you won't be so dull of comprehension," and
purrs maliciously as he retires to a safe distance from the guest's boot before eating it. A
cat isn't a fool -- not by a long way.
When the family has finished tea, and gathers round the fire to enjoy the hours of
indigestion, the cat slouches casually out of the room and disappears. Life, true life, now
begins for him.
He saunters down his own backyard, springs to the top of the fence with one easy bound,
drops lightly down on the other side, trots across the right-of-way to a vacant allotment,
and skips to the roof of an empty shed. As he goes, he throws off the effeminacy of
civilisation; his gait becomes lithe and pantherlike; he looks quickly and keenly from side