The Cat Sitter
Published by Dan Mazur at Smashwords
Copyright 2015 Dan Mazur
Table of Contents
Chapter One – What’s New Pussycat?
Chapter Two – The Cat’s Pajamas
Chapter Three – Hello Kitty!
Chapter Four – Catastrophic
Chapter Five – Stray Cat Strut
Chapter Six – Cat People
Chapter Seven – The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Chapter Eight – Mr. Mistoffelees
Chapter One: What’s New Pussycat?
I’ve never been an animal lover. I don’t hate them. I just don’t see what all the fuss is about. If I had to have a pet, it would likely be a dog. I’m not a cat person at all. I don’t like and I don’t trust them. I’m pretty sure that they don’t like me either. Anytime my aunt’s cat was around me, he would hiss or growl so I kept my distance. I’ve never made any attempts to befriend him, pet him, or even talk to him. I just don’t like him. We have an unwritten agreement in which we are to stay away from one another. And thus far, it’s worked out great for the both of us.
That is why it came as such a surprise when my aunt called me out of the blue and asked if I’d watch her cat for the weekend. My aunt was going to go up north to visit my uncle who was in the hospital. My Mom planned on going along with her which meant that I was the only one left that could look after him. She didn’t trust anyone that wasn’t family with her precious Bruno. Seriously, who names their cat Bruno? I still have no idea where that name originated. I’m sure that there is extensive, boring backstory so I dare not ask.
My aunt is what you would call a “crazy cat lady”. Growing up, I remember her always having a number of different cats with weird names and quirks. She never married or had children so the cats were her babies. She would spoil them rotten with fancy, organic foods and designer clothing. Yes, designer clothing. Her house was adorned with a series of pictures and crushed velvet paintings of Bruno. Nary could a picture of any other family member be found.
I was not looking forward to spending an entire weekend with Bruno. But my Mom asked and I always liked my aunt so I reluctantly agreed. My aunt had made up a long list of rules about what Bruno ate, when he ate, when he napped, what he wore to bed, and what shows he liked to watch. She was getting on in years and so I indulged her eccentricities when it came to her cat. As she got ready to leave, she hugged and kissed Bruno and told him that “Mama will be home very, very soon and she loved her little baby so much.” All I got was a pat on the back.
I watched them leave through the front window as my aunt blew kisses to Bruno. He had pressed his paws and face against the glass to watch the two ladies drive off. It was just me and the cat for the next two days now. Oh joy. We just glared at one another as if it were a Mexican standoff. Neither one of us was willing to budge, flinch, or blink. Eventually he ran off to the other room so I guess I won.
He had made his way over to the room where my aunt kept the litter box. I watched him walk around in circles before starting to dig with his paws. Then he climbed in and started doing his business. He gave me the evil eye as I stood and watched so I abruptly left the room. All I could hear was more digging. I looked in on him to find him digging in his litter box with his front and back feet. He was kicking the litter all over the floor. After he finished he was suddenly full of beans, furiously running all over the house. Weird cat.
I walked in to clean the litterbox and was immediately overwhelmed by the stench. What did my aunt feed this cat? I held my breath as I filled up a plastic bag before dumping it off in the garbage can outside. I sprayed some air freshener which only masked the smell. I then started to sweep up the litter that was scattered all over the floor and emptied it into another garbage bag. Finally able to breathe, I went to the bathroom to wash my hands when I heard more digging. Bruno was back in his box or round two. I think he did it just to spite me. This was going to be a very long weekend.
Chapter Two: The Cat’s Pajamas
For the rest of the night I tried to avoid Bruno but no matter how hard I tried, I could feel him staring at me. I didn’t want to indulge him so I kept my eyes focused on the television. He began meowing but it wasn’t a cute little me. It was a loud guttural meow that echoed throughout the house. Apparently “The King” hadn’t been fed and was hungry. So I opened up a tin of his imported cat food and poured it into his dish. I then filled his water bowl with spring water as per my Aunt’s instructions.
He devoured his supper with most if ending up on the floor, his face, and whiskers. He then loudly lapped up his water. He stretched, yawned, and then went over to his bed for a nap. Finally, some peace and quiet around here. I leaned back in my chair and resumed watching the baseball game. I began drifting in and out of sleep as I started feeling sleepy. I didn’t want to fall asleep on the chair so I quietly headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth and take a shower. After changing into my sleeping attire, I quietly crept into the guestroom and climbed into bed. And wouldn’t you know it, just as I was about to lay my weary head against the pillow, I looked up and there was Bruno. “What now?”
I checked his litter box and it was clean and full. He had more than enough food and water so he wasn’t hungry or thirsty. He jumped off the bed and came back with a toy mouse. It was 11 o’clock at night, I was tired and was not in the mood to play fetch. I tossed the mouse down the hall hoping that he would play with it on his own. Nope. Instead he came back, toy mouse in his mouth, and dropped it on the bed. Evidently, Bruno had just gotten his second wind and according to him, it was playtime. I tossed the toy mouse a couple more times but he kept coming back with it.
I decided that I couldn’t do this all night so I found some catnip and a little plastic ball. I filled the ball up with catnip and rolled it down the hall. He just ignored it and walked away. The house was dark and quiet and Bruno was hopefully asleep in the living room or my aunt’s bed. A couple hours later I was awoken by a frisky cat smacking his catnip filled ball around the hallway. My Aunt had hardwood floors in her house so I heard every noise that ball made as it hit the wall and rolled down the floor. Bruno had hit the ball so hard with his paw that it came apart covering him in catnip. He began sneezing uncontrollably before he started chasing his tail. This went on for another hour until he passed out from exhaustion and began snoring.
I was on the verge of falling into a deep sleep myself when I was jolted out of my slumber by a banging at the bedroom door. This was followed by several more banging noises. “Go away!” I yelled. But the banging continued. I put a pillow over my ears to try to muffle the sound but all I could hear was that infernal racket. I clicked on the light on the nightstand only to see a pair of beefy paws reaching into the room under the door as he struggled to open it.
“Get lost Bruno!” I bellowed. But he just kept on pounding at the door. Desperate for sleep, I broke one of my cardinal rules and allowed for him to enter the bedroom. I opened the door as Bruno rushed past me and jumped up on the bed. He was a big boy so it took a couple of attempts, but he finally made it onto the bed. He sprawled across the pillow that I had been sleeping on so I had to sleep on the other side of the bed. Every time I tried to pull up the covers, he would resist and laid on them like a bump on a log. He was pretty heavy for a cat and I couldn’t get him to move. I pulled and pulled but was unable to get him off of the covers. I spent the night practically falling off the bed, freezing cold from not having enough of the blankets to keep me warm. Bruno, on the other hand, slept like a baby.
Chapter Three: Hello Kitty!
There is nothing quite like the smell of cat breath early in the morning. I was awoken by Bruno sitting on top of me as my chest was being crushed by all of his furry girth. He looked at me as if he wanted something. I tried to ignore him and closed my eyes again only to be woken up by a paw swipe to the face. For a cat, he sure had a mean right hook. I looked at the clock on the nightstand and it was only 5 o’clock in the morning. “It’s too early to wake up Bruno. Let me get some sleep!” I pleaded with him. I closed my eyes again and tried to go back to sleep but I could feel him staring at me so I got up to stay.
I filled his food dish with some gluten-free dry food and freshened his water bowl. The crunching sounds he made were so loud that it kind of annoyed me. There were also crumbs and half-eaten morsels of food all over the kitchen floor that I knew I’d have to sweep up. For such a refined palate, you’d think he would’ve had better table manners. I went to check his litter box and thankfully he hadn’t befouled it yet. I’m sure after he wolfed down his breakfast he’d be making his mooring deposit.
Still groggy from a lack of sleep, I poured myself a cup of coffee and headed to the front door to get the morning paper. It was still dark outside as I bent over to pick up the paper, leaving the door slightly ajar. When I got back to the kitchen, Bruno wasn’t there. That gave me a chance to have some toast and peanut butter and finish my coffee. I was too tired to concentrate on reading the paper and with Bruno nowhere in sight, I decided to go back to bed.
It didn’t take long before I was fast asleep. I was exhausted from the lack of the sleep I got the night before and so I slept until the early afternoon. I felt much better for having had those extra hours of shuteye. Last night was brutal and being with that insufferable cat was getting on my last nerve. I brushed my teeth and got dressed. I began to notice how eerily quiet the house had suddenly become. Not that I was complaining. Hopefully Bruno was off sleeping somewhere after being such a nuisance last night.
Bruno was a strange cat and the less I had to see of him the better. I enjoyed the peaceful silence and was able to sit and read the paper. I really had nothing planned for the day so I stretched out on the couch and decided to watch some television. After a couple of hours, I started to get hungry. I walked over to the kitchen to make myself a sandwich. I was expecting you know who to be waiting for me the minute I got there. But oddly enough, he was nowhere to be found. As I placed some bread in the toaster, I ended up knocking over a container of cat food which was scattered all over the kitchen floor.. I began sweeping up the food and scooping it back into the container. I thought for sure that Bruno would come running the second he heard the food spill. But he didn’t make an appearance at all. In fact, I hadn’t seen him for a while now. This was very strange. Bruno loved to eat and even when he wasn’t hungry, he’d always find room for food.
As I cleaned up the kitchen after making such a mess, I glanced over at the front door. It looked as though I had left it open. I was pretty sure that I closed it when I got the paper but I don’t remember. As I got closer to the door, I could feel the cool air from outside. I had left the door open. It wasn’t wide open but with his big meaty paws, Bruno could’ve easily opened the door and gotten out.
Panicked I yelled out for Bruno but received nothing but silence in return. I started to sweat and my heart was racing. No, no, no! He can’t be outside. He was too spoiled, fat, and comfortable to ever want to venture outside. But he was still a cat and they are always curious when it comes to life outdoors. After searching the house for the next half hour, I came to the realization that Bruno may have gone missing.
Chapter Four: Catastrophic
I became frantic as I searched for Bruno outside the house. I called his name repeatedly, “Bruno! Bruno!” as if he would come running to me of all people. I checked the bushes out front and didn’t see him there. I walked around to the backyard and looked in the shed, but still no Bruno. He was too fat to have climbed up any trees so I didn’t bother to look.
My aunt would be furious if Bruno went missing. She was inconsolable every time she lost a cat. It took her weeks to get over the death of one of her cats. I didn’t even want to think about how she’d react if something happened to Bruno. He was alive and was out there somewhere. Perhaps the neighbours had taken him in. Now if I were a pampered, overweight housecat, where would I be hiding?
I looked around the neighbour’s yards which only warranted nasty glares from them as they didn’t know me from Adam. The neighbours on each side hadn’t seen Bruno nor had they ever seen him. As I tried to describe him to the elderly man next door, he just slammed the door in my face. The family on the other side didn’t really speak English and I may have done the worst cat impression ever when inquiring about Bruno. They looked at me quizzically, shrugged their shoulders as we stood there in awkward silence for a few moments. I said “Thank you” and headed back to my Aunt’s house.
Feeling dejected, I went back to my aunt’s house to plan my next move. What was I going to do? I didn’t know who to call or where to turn. I didn’t want to bother my friends on a Saturday to go looking for a lost cat. Maybe I should make a few posters? But then I thought about my Mom and Aunt seeing them on their way home. I wanted to tee his disappearance quiet until or if he turned up.
I paced around the house talking out loud trying desperately to think of a solution. I didn’t know anything about animals. I grew up without having any pets and never really understand the emotional attachment people had with them. I didn’t miss Bruno. Okay, maybe subconsciously I did a little. Or maybe it was just my guilty conscience. Regardless, I was really starting to get worried about him. It would be dark in a few hours and the thought of him being outside in the cold, lonely night was distressing.
I shook a bag of cat treats like a pair of maracas in order to entice him from his hiding place. This would usually work for my aunt as Bruno would come running the second he heard the crinkle of the bag or the sound of treats hitting the kitchen floor. “C’mon out Bruno. I’ve got some treats for you. They’re Turkeylicious!” I felt like such an idiot actually saying that out loud. Who comes up with these product names anyway? I poured a few treats on the floor and waited for Bruno to come rumbling down the stairs to inhale them as he usually did. I waited and waited but still no Bruno.
Confused and dejected, I sat at the kitchen table, rubbing the side of my face as the wheels in my head kept turning and turning. I had no idea what to do next. I still had the rest of the afternoon and evening to deal with this. My Mom and Aunt wouldn’t be back until Sunday but they never specified what time so I had to find Bruno soon. Hopefully he darted out when I left the door open, did a little exploring got bored and hungry, and will turn up at the front door. I would repeatedly look out the front door only to see an empty porch. I was no fan of Bruno’s, but I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to him.
I just there numb and unable to move for the next little while. Then the phone rang which startled me and nearly knocked me out of my chair. Maybe it was someone who had found Bruno although I don’t think he had a collar or any identification. I let it ring a couple more times before I picked it up, “Yes!” I excitedly answered. And then my heart sunk as I heard the voice on the other end. It was my aunt and she wanted to talk to Bruno.
Chapter Five: Cat People
“How’s my baby Bruno?” she asked over the phone.
“Um, he’s good” I nervously responded.
“Can I talk to him?”
“Huh? I mean I think he’s sleeping but I’ll tell him that you called” as I tried to rush the conversation.
“Don’t be silly dear, wake him up. He always loves talking to Mama.”
“Ok, sure…..be right back.” I held the phone to my chest for a minute and pretended to go get Bruno.
“Here’s Bruno!” I said.
She then proceeded to speak baby talk and gibberish to what she thought was her cat on the phone. It made me cringe just listening to it. Even my Mom never talked to me like that when I was a baby.
“Ok Bruno. I hope you’re having fun with your new best friend and Mama will be home tomorrow.” Whew! I really dodged a bullet this time until my aunt asked rather concerned, Is Bruno okay?”
“Yeah, uh, why?” I asked feeling slightly alarmed.
“He usually responds when I talk to him on the phone, but this time, he didn’t make a sound.”
“Let me put him back on the phone” as said as I shut my eyes made some half-hearted meowing noises. I felt so embarrassed. This was definitely not my finest hour.
“That’s my boy!” she exclaimed. “Ok you two, have a wonderful day. Love you both!”
I can’t believe she bought it. I may have been able to have faked my way through whatever that was, but if I didn’t find Bruno by Sunday, my aunt would never forgive me.
Chapter Six: Stray Cat Strut
What about the local humane society I thought? Of course. If he had gotten outside I’m pretty sure he’d end up at the shelter. Not sure why I didn’t think of that either. He was probably sitting in a cage waiting for me to come pick him up. Oh I felt so relieved. I’d just drive to the shelter, identify Bruno, and bring him home. My aunt wouldn’t suspect a thing.
I got in my car and headed to the humane society which was about a ten minute car ride. I had never been inside a shelter before and didn’t know what to expect. I brought a couple of recent pictures of Bruno. I didn’t have any of his medical information nor did I know what breed of cat he was or even how old he was. To me, he was just a fat black cat.
When I walked in it was so loud from the dogs barking in the kennels and the cats meowing in their cages. It was cold inside and there was an overpowering stench of urine. The walls were in desperate need of a paint job as I found it quite dreary inside. I walked up to the reception desk where the woman working there was far from friendly. She made me feel as though I was bothering her. She kept me waiting for a couple of minutes as she continued to furiously text away. I cleared my throat in an attempt to get her attention. She glared up at me as if I had taken her away from something vitally important.
“I’m here to look for my aunt’s cat. He’s been missing for most of the day and I’m afraid that he may have ran outside and got lost.”
“Do you have a picture of the cat or any other information?” “Yes. He’s a black cat and his name is Bruno.”
“And?” she asked in a rather snarky tone.
“And what?” I asked
“What type of cat is he? Has he been microchipped? Was he wearing a collar? Anything else you can tell me about his appearance? How old would he be? We get a lot of cats in here and you’re really not helping.”
“I don’t know. He’s not my cat.” I replied.
She sneered at me before calling over one of the volunteers over the intercom to take me to the back to look for Bruno. Thankfully he was much more pleasant than Nurse Ratched up at the front desk. I thought people who worked with animals were supposed to be, you know, nice.
He brought me to the back room where they kept all of the cats that had been brought in as strays. There were so many cages all filled with lost or abandoned cats. For a guy who didn’t like cats, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad for these poor souls. I slowly walked past the cages peering inside hoping to see Bruno’s pudgy face staring back at me.
The longer I walked around examining the cats in each cage, the more disheartened I became. I was frustrated because I couldn’t find Bruno and the sight of these hopeless looking cats was starting to take its toll on me. Some of the cats and were in pretty rough shape with matted fur and scratches all over their face and other defects. Quite a few looked rather sickly and didn’t look like they long for this world. And then I saw a mother cat and her babies. They were feeding as I peeked into their cage.
“What’s their story?” I asked the volunteer.
“The kittens were left here overnight in a cardboard box. It was bitter cold and I’m surprised that they survived. Would you like to hold one” he asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t really like…” and before I could finish my sentence, this tiny ball of fun was in my arms. She looked up at me and tried to meow but no sounds came out. She was just a baby. She was so soft and so sweet. I gently handed the kitten back to the volunteer.
“That’s not their mother by the way. This is another cat who just had her own kittens. Some of them will make out while others……” his voice started to trail off as he got choked up. That seemed to be my cue to leave.
“Well you have the picture of Bruno and my contact information. If he turns up here, please call me as soon as possible”.
“Absolutely. Good luck. Hope you find him” he replied as he knelt down to comfort a cat who was meowing loudly and pushing her paws through the cage.
I left the shelter feeling incredibly sad and humbled. I almost think that Bruno went missing on purpose. It was if though it was his way of teaching me a lesson about gaining a greater appreciation for animals. I was the Ebenezer Scrooge in his feline “A Christmas Carol”, only there was no Tiny Tim, just a Fat Bruno. Well it worked Bruno. I teared up. Are you happy?
Chapter Seven: The Lion Sleeps Tonight
When I got back from the shelter, I cruised around the neighbourhood one last time before heading inside. I looked everywhere for Bruno in the house calling out his name repeatedly. But he wasn’t there. I was going to have to break the terrible news to my aunt and accept my fate. I was not looking forward to tomorrow. I had no idea how she’d react. Would she yell? Would she cry? Would she hit me? Ugh. It was going to be another long, sleepless night for me.
Bruno’s food dish and water bowl remained untouched as did the litter box. The experience at the shelter had deeply affected me but not to the point where I loved animals and was going to soddenly adopt a ton of cats. I did feel bad for Bruno and worried about him being alone, cold, hungry, and scared. He had it pretty good compared to the cats at the shelter. I don’t think he’d be able to survive for very long in the elements and with all of the dangers both human and animal that lurked outdoors.
I found myself feeling kind of emotional. He’s just a cat I kept reminding myself. And one that I didn’t like nor did he like me. I think my weepy state was the culmination of guilt, frustration, fear, and exhaustion. I had barely eaten all day having only had a couple of slices of toast and some coffee.
I rehearsed what I was going to tell my aunt over and over again in my head. I thought up a number of different scenarios, some believable and others outlandish to explain Bruno’s disappearance. Eventually I decided that I would just tell her the truth. It was an accident and there was no malice behind his disappearance on my part. Sure we had become mortal enemies over the past couple of years but I didn’t want to see any harm come to him. And I highly doubted that a silly, overweight housecat would have a vendetta against me. I probably could have and should have been nicer to him. I was a bit of a jerk to him anytime we were around each other.
Feeling light-headed, I laid down on the couch and closed my eyes for a few minutes which quickly became a few hours. Before I knew it, I was fast asleep in my clothes. It was a deep, heavy sleep devoid of dreams or thoughts. I was so exhausted, both physically and emotionally, that I collapsed on the couch and fell asleep instantly. I slept without a blanket and rested my head on a single sofa pillow. It wasn’t comfortable, but with the fatigue I was dealing with, I could’ve slept on the floor if I had to.
I had slept straight through the night. It was about 10 o’clock in the morning when I was jolted out of my sleep by the sound of car doors slamming. Oh no! My mom and aunt were home. What was I going to do?
“Bruno! Bruno!” I shouted a few times out of sheer desperation.
I heard the voices getting closer and closer to the front door as I watched helplessly as the locks were opened. In walked my mom and aunt who immediately asked, “Where’s my Bruno?”
Chapter Eight: Mr. Mistoffelees
I took a deep breath, my bottom lip quivering, “The thing is Aunt Babs, about Bruno, he…..” when a black flash whizzed right by me. It was Bruno! He jumped, well tried to jump but had to be picked up, into my aunt’s arms. He immediately started purring and nuzzling against her.
“Oh you’re so nice and warm. You must’ve been hiding in the linen closet again.”
“Linen closet?” I asked.
“Yes, he loves it in there. He will spend hours upon hours in there. He won’t even come out to eat or to visit me. It’s like his own personal home away from home. You just adore your little penthouse don’t you Bruno?”
So this cat that I had been frantically searching for the past couple of days had been in the linen closet this entire time? While I was running around, worried sick, he was lounging around amongst the towels and bedding. He heard me calling and he didn’t budge or bother to let me know here he was? Sure I hadn’t been the nicest guy in the world to him, but this cat had just played me like a fiddle.
My aunt then put Bruno down on the floor and he started to rub up against my legs and purr. His tail was pointing straight up in the air as he looked up at me with a smug look on his portly face.
“Aww, look who became best friends while I was gone” my aunt remarked.
Well played Bruno I thought to myself. Well played.
When his eccentric, cat-loving aunt decides to go out of town for the weekend, she asks her nephew to watch her cat. He's not an animal lover and he especially doesn't like cats. He's also convinced that Bruno the cat does not like him either. As can be predicted, things do not go well for the pair during their weekend together. I got the idea for this story while looking at a website that was advertising job postings. I saw an ad for a 'cat sitter'. I love cats so the main character is not me at all. I thought that it would make for a humourous story to pair someone who doesn't like cats with a cat who was spoiled by his owner for a weekend. There is a little bit of heart and humour but I've tried to stay away from a clichÃ©d happy ending. . For those of us who love cats, this story will just reinforce why we think they're so wonderful and intelligent. And for those who think that cat's are devious little beings, well, you may be right as well.