Ms. Maisie Slumpbottom had always known that she would be a cat lady, as had everyone else—and this in spite the fact that both her parents suffered from severe cat allergies. Although, delighted might be a more appropriate word than suffered. Their supposed allergies were the end-all to the multiple discussions (always began by Maisie) regarding whether or not a cat could be adopted into the family. Mr. and Mrs. Slumpbottom, you see, were of the class of people who find cats repulsive. Mrs. Slumpbottom loved to talk about how much she despised cats, and often repeated her personal mantra to any listening ear: “Any animal that licks its own bottom is unfit.”
“Unfit for what?” people would often ask—as the statement seemed to beg them to do.
“Anything,” Mrs. Slumpbottom would say with a nod that spoke volumes about how terribly clever she thought that she was.
Maisie would be polite enough to only do a small eye roll whenever the exchange happened, though it always occurred to her that an animal needed to be quite limber to lick its own bottom—it could even be argued that said animal was actually rather fit, if it were taken in the terms of physical fitness. Maisie was positive that her own plump mother could perform no such feat of bodily elasticity, although, naturally, she never asked her to try.
The day that Maisie moved out of her parent’s tiny house and into her own apartment, she got her first cat: Mr. Spectacles, on account of the peculiar rings of color around his eyes and his habit of walking into things. In actuality, Mr. Spectacles was adopted before Maisie Slumpbottom arrived at her new apartment at 183 Flounder Road in Shady Hollow. She simply couldn’t restrain herself from stopping by the pet store and picking up her first cat partner on her way to her new abode.
Mr. Spectacles was a lovely first cat for Maisie. They did everything together—although, there wasn’t that much which either one did, and so it made it rather simple. Maisie worked from her home making cold calls for the company Pest Control Control—a firm that specialized in selling deterrents designed to stop door-to-door summer salesmen. Every morning she would give Mr. Spectacles a bowl of hard cat food before eating her own breakfast of cold cereal. Then there would be four hours of cold calls before lunch, which consisted of a tuna fish sandwich for herself and a can of wet cat food for Mr. Spectacles. This was followed by four more hours of script-reading, and then cold cereal and hard cat food again while they watched the evening news. They would thereafter walk to their mailbox and sit on the porch for half an hour before going to bed. It was the life of which Maisie had always dreamed.
But then the dreaded and inevitable happened: Mr. Spectacles nine lives were whittled down to zero, and he died fat and happy. Maisie knew that he had gone straight to heaven—he told her so in a dream—but the sorrow she felt was still deep and enduring.
Within a week of his passing, she had found a new feline friend with whom she could pass the day, and named him Spectacles Junior, in honor of her late friend.
A month after his passing, two more cats had joined the household: Ms. Spectacular, and Speck. Another month later and there were three more friends: Tickles, Mr. S., and Spettles. One month later and there were four more cats: Mr. Tentacles, Mrs. Speckles, Mistercles, and Terspecs.
It was then that her landlord paid her a visit, informing her that if she took any more cats into her apartment, she (and the cats) would be evicted. She hissed and slammed the door, but later sent an apology letter, agreeing to his requests. There was, of course, a small bag of catnip attached to smooth-over any hard feelings about her hissing at him.
So she capped off her kitty-count at ten: Spectacles Junior, Ms. Spectacular, Speck, Tickles, Mr. S., Spettles, Mr. Tentacles, Mrs. Speckles, Mistercles, and Terspecs. She was happy, and her cats were happy. Mr. and Mrs. Slumpbottom were unhappy, but their opinions were of little importance to the ten cats, and so they were of little importance to Maisie. Fortunately for Maisie, she didn’t have to hear about those opinions anymore, because Mr. and Mrs. Slumpbottom couldn’t visit their daughter in her apartment with the advent of the ten cats, and they eventually had to request that Maisie either stop coming to visit them or at least take an acid bath before doing so, since no amount of scrubbing seemed able to get the cat dander from off of her myriad tasseled sweaters, drooping shawls, and body.
Once her relationship with her parents had been effectually ended, Maisie found herself cut off from human companionship entirely. She still made her phone calls, it was true, but they were brief and ineffective—much like the different cat allergy medicines her parents had tried before giving up on the relationship. Maisie woke up, ate, made her phone calls, ate, made more phone calls, ate, relaxed, and slept.
Then one morning something happened: she awoke and realized that she had run out of cold cereal. Finding herself very hungry, but not so desperate as to leave her apartment and slink out to the store, she decided instead to simply add milk to a bowl of Kitten Crunchables Healthy-Fur Mix, only to discover that it wasn’t that bad. In fact, she rather liked it.
Later that day, when she could have gone to the store, she decided not to, and it was Kitten Crunchables for dinner, as well.
Two days later she was out of bread, and just ate a bowl of tuna fish instead. The next week she ran out of tuna, only to learn that Whiskerlicious Salmon and Tripe tasted even better than it smelled.
Something about her dietary changes simply felt right. And if those two food sources were good enough to keep her cats healthy, then they were certainly all that Maisie needed. She could order them online and have them delivered to her front doorstep. She never had to go anywhere for work, and now she didn’t need to go anywhere for groceries, either. Life was a delight.
For several years things went on like this for Maisie. Then, one day, she thought about her parents. She hadn’t spoken to Mr. and Mrs. Slumpbottom for a long, long while. They were old, and perhaps their health was poor. Maisie had no siblings, but she thought that she had better contact her parents again, just in case they were working on their will and needed a reminder.
So Maisie batted away the cat hairs from off of her contact book and found the one entry: Mr. and Mrs. Slumpbottom, 1282 Gargoyle Drive in Shady Hollow, (485) 237-9483. She dialed it into her work phone and waited while the call rang through.
Someone picked up, and a familiar voice, albeit aged and cracking, spoke.
“Hello, this is Mrs. Slumpbottom.”
“Hello,” Maisie said, “this is Maisie from Pest Control Control.”
“Maisie?” her mother said. “Maisie my girl, I’m so happy you called. How are you?”
Maisie put a hand to her lips, startled, while her mother’s voice came out from the phone speaker.
“What was that, dear?”
Maisie raised the phone and tried again.
“Maisie,” her mother said, “I can’t understand what you’re saying.”
But Maisie was hardly listening now. She was in an amused kind of panic. Curious, more than anything else. This was silly—she knew how to speak English still. She did it every day on the phone, reading her script. She didn’t only speak to the cats. She thought of the script, and thought of what she would like to say to her mother, and then tried again.
“Mrs. Slumpbottom, I have a question for you: how many different Pest Control services are you currently paying for?”
Maisie dropped the phone. Still, her mother’s voice came up to her.
“Maisie, I’ve already purchased your product. If you’re just calling to give me a sales pitch, I won’t have it. I want to know how my daughter is doing.”
Shaking, Maisie picked the phone back up and tried one more time.
Then she hung up the phone before her mother could say anything else. This was most peculiar. Maisie looked at her shaking hands: it seemed as if she was hungry. She crawled across the kitchen, found and opened a can of cat food, and began licking it up.
Such an odd thing, she thought. Cat’s don’t use phones. Silly Maisticles.
I hope that you found this story entertaining, wherever it happened to find you. If you enjoyed it, please leave a favorable review on Amazon and check out my other writings. As an author, I depend upon people like you.
About the Author
Chauncey Rogers was raised in Arizona and Missouri. He served for two years as a missionary in Los Angeles, CA. He graduated from Brigham Young University with degrees in history education, linguistics, and editing. He is happily married, has two children, and dreams of owning a pet rat.
Go to for more stories from Shady Hollow, and for his other works.