Furball couldn’t believe his eyes. An entire mountain of tuna was staring down at him invitingly. But just as he was about to sink his teeth into the soft pink flesh, Big Louis, the fat ginger-coloured cat from down the road walked out from the other side.

“You’re in my territory,” hissed Furball, arching his back. His hair had instantly jumped up at the mere sight of his sworn enemy.

Big Louis glared back and pounced. But Furball simply yawned and swept a paw. It struck Big Louis on the cheek. And then, a loud thud. The challenger lay upon the ground.

Furball leapt over the fallen Big Louis, his jaws wide open. Chomp. But instead of tender tuna chunks, Furball’s mouth had closed around something soft and furry.

 

It was his own tail. An electric bolt shot through Furball’s body. His jaw snapped open instantly, and his poor tail slid out. Furball’s tongue rushed out to soothe the pain. A few licks later, it felt a little better.

Furball sniffed. There had been no tuna mountain. There had been no victory over Big Louis. It had all been a dream. He should have known better. After all, Big Louis was the neighbourhood hooligan.

Furball gave his tail another lick and looked around. But something was very wrong. For one, everything was dark. And why was he sleeping on a cold hard surface? Usually his belly always rested upon a red velvet cushion inside a large cane basket.

But before Furball’s brain could answer the question, his stomach stepped in with a loud growl. “I’m hungry,” it roared.

 

Furball rolled over as he always did off his soft cushion. But it suddenly felt as if someone had pushed him off a cliff. Down and down went Furball. Until, twang. He had landed on something hard. Another twang. And then he remembered where he was.

“Rowf,” came a muffled bark from the corner.

Furball had to act fast. It was Bruno, the Alsatian, from the corner of the living room. The sounds had stirred him. And if he woke up, then Furball would be chased out of the house.

Furball landed deftly beside Bruno. He slowly brushed his tail across the drowsy dog’s eyes while purring gently in his right ear. “Your eyes are heavy, go-ho to sleep. Shush little doggy, no-hot a peep.”

Bruno had been on the verge of opening an eye. Instead, his perked ears curled back like a fern and his wet tongue rolled out. Moments later, he was back to chasing the neighbour’s new car in his dreams.

 

It was only after a full minute that Furball dared to breathe again. It had been a close call indeed.

Just then, there was a knock from inside. “I’m hungry,” his stomach reminded him.

Furball tried to ignore the interruption. But how could he? After all, he was the one who had refused the saucer of warm milk offered by Tara, his six year old mistress. And then, he had gone off and fallen asleep on top of the piano while she practiced a symphony.

Furball yawned and stretched his body.

“Don’t you dare fall asleep again without feeding me,” warned his stomach.

Furball grumbled, but he had no choice. “So what would you like to eat?” he asked.

“Tuna,” it replied promptly.

 

Snap. That was the mouse trap. And it had missed Furball’s tail by a whisker.

Furball grabbed his precious tail and held it close to his chest. It almost seemed as if someone had put a curse on it. From now on, he would hold it up until he was safely atop the kitchen counter.

There were more mouse traps along the way. For just the teensiest of moments, Furball felt a pang of guilt. It was indeed shameful to have mouse traps in a house with a cat.

‘But it’s just not fair,’ he thought. ‘Why did Tara have to give me such a pansy name? Black Ninja would have been perfect. Then I could have caught mice with my paws tied behind my back.’

 

Furball did a karate move he had watched on television. But the very next instant, he jumped inside a pile of clothes thrown on one side. When he peeped out, he realized that it had only been his shadow that had jiggled.

Furball stepped out, feeling very embarrassed. But his stomach had begun to perform somersaults by now. “Please get on with it. We don’t have all night.”

A few jumps later, Furball was standing in front of a tuna can. A sealed tuna can. He dug in his claws. He pushed in his teeth. But the can just wouldn’t open.

An exhausted Furball was about to punch it when the heavenly aroma of stale fish reached his nose. It wrapped itself around his nostrils and dragged him towards the kitchen window.

 

Cross Eyed Jim, the street cat and one of Big Louis’ cronies, was perched on the water tank outside with a head of kingfish. “Ummm,” he slobbered, sliding his tongue slowly over it.

“Please spare me a piece Jimmy,” pleaded Furball, drooling all over the grill.

Cross Eyed Jim glowered back. “I have to search through ten trash cans before I get a piece of fish. You, on the other hand, simply meow and get served. Go away before I scratch you.”

Furball fled down the counter and into Tara’s room, right in front of the kitchen. And the first thing his eyes fell upon was a saucer of milk on her chest of drawers.

Without thinking, Furball leapt into the air.

 

His tongue popped out, ready to lap up the delicious milk. But alas, his paws knocked over the lamp. The lamp knocked over the saucer. And the saucer along with the milk flipped over. Tara, who had been having a lovely dream about unicorns, suddenly found herself drenched in milk.

Well, that was the end of Furball’s midnight snack. He got a smack from Tara instead. And a tablespoon of yucky cod liver oil.

***

© Copyright Prashant Pinge 2014. All Rights Reserved

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