Dallas Dave

Carlton and Scorpio piled up the cattails at the edge of the backyard, very close to the new dwelling. They had secured them from the edge of a pond off Lake Boone Trail, leaning as far as they could out over the water and methodically chewing them off just above the water line, being very careful to stay out of the liquid. They worked together, one doing the cutting work while the other carefully caught the reed as it began to lean over. The team had gathered ten of the cattails and had successfully dragged them home to Hathaway Road.

The cattails had been gathered to decorate the exterior of their new little nest. The nest was an area about the size of a volleyball that Carlton had fashioned in the side of the bank just behind the concrete St. Francis of Assisi statue and just to the right of the birdbath.

It was to be their new home, the two of them deciding to combine households just recently. Carlton had, properly, asked his master and mistress, Dave and Kathy, if they had any objection to this arrangement, and being children of the sixties themselves they had readily agreed – in fact, they had fully endorsed the union.

They both had met Scorpio; they had asked to meet her after observing the two cats drinking out of the birdbath together. So Carlton had brought his babe up onto the deck one afternoon when the two of them were there and after much petting and cooing and feeding of treats, the quadrangle was solidified. So then it was up to Carlton to provide a home, and the ensuing lair in the ivy came to be.

Scorpio, named for the sign under which she had been born, lived up to those expectations, being at once creative and most importantly mysterious. Her creative bent had led them to the cattail excursion.

Carlton watched as Scorpio positioned the reeds around the little nest, placing them at different angles. Scorpio, while lying on the south facing deck, had paid particular attention to the position of the sun at all times of the day, and had envisioned how it would glint off the burgundy heads of the cattails. So after she had completed her arrangement and the two had supped on a leftover mole, they curled up in their little home and snoozed the night away, excited about viewing the burrow in the sunlight the next day.

They both awoke early, just before sunrise, and positioned themselves on chairs on the deck to see if Scorpio’s decorative ideas worked, but not after taking a long drink in their beloved algae laden bird bath and preening themselves and each other thoroughly.

Even after all this activity they were still able to see the beautiful orange ball rise in the sky, and they were elated to see how the sun bounced off the cattails just as Scorpio had figured it would. In fact, they were so entranced and pleased that they spent the whole day on the deck, watching as the sun moved from left to right, hitting the reeds at different angles. They only interrupted their delightful vigil with an occasional foray after a mole in the ivy or a trip to the birdbath for a drink.

The two felines settled into their home and found they liked it very much. They spent their days, and some of their evenings, hunting for moles, voles, and small rabbits (in season) and otherwise just cavorting about or lolling on the deck or the cushioned glider Kathy had purchased some time back. She had put it on the side porch adjacent to the kitchen door and had bought a perfectly sized rug to place in front of it.

Once in a while when Kathy’s life- long friend Molly was in town from City Island, New York, Kathy and Molly would sit on the glider early in the morning and drink coffee, and other times, if it were raining, Dave would sit there in the evening and smoke his daily cigar. But if the glider was not occupied Carlton and Scorpio loved to sit there and watch the lightning bugs at night, and during the day when it was open they would frequently lie there and clean themselves in the late afternoon sun, for it had a western orientation.

After a couple of weeks had gone by Scorpio noticed that Carlton would disappear for periods of time, sometimes as long as an hour, and then suddenly show up, not offering any explanation as to where he had been. Scorpio knew that her mate could be a bit of a loner, so she did not bother him with an inquiry, respecting his privacy, but she could not help being a bit curious about his absence. (My God, she was a cat you know.)

But one morning everything was explained, when he awakened her early, just at sunrise, and showed her the reason he had been away and what it had produced. He proudly brought her out and faced her toward the cattail festooned nest and said, “Look,” and pointed his out-stretched paw toward a piece of cedar that he had propped up against the bank adjacent to their home.

It was a one inch board, about three inches wide and seven inches long, that Carlton had asked Dave for, having espied it in the small shed where Dave parked his giant plum colored Yamaha V-Star motorcycle. Dave had relinquished the lumber, no questions asked, but he had been more than a bit curious as to what a cat would want with a piece of sanded well seasoned Eastern Red Cedar.

But when Scorpio saw the plank she burst out laughing, rolling around in the grass outside their abode. Carlton had very carefully etched the following words into the wood with his sharp claws – IF THE FUR IS A ‘FLYIN,’ DON’T COME A’PRYIN.’ Scorpio loved it and told Carlton to take it easy and let her get breakfast.

Carlton complied, lolling about in the nest until about thirty minutes later when Scorpio returned with a nice fat mole. She brought it up to the hacienda entry, and Carlton meowed with delight.

After they had eaten, Scorpio asked Carlton about his latest ideas, for Carlton had recently gained a bit of a reputation as a promoter of products and ideas that his friends had brought to him. Just the mention of this got Carlton going, for he loved to talk, and he was good at it.

“Well, Harry, the Maine Coon over on Picadilly, has this idea that I am helping him with,” Carlton said, noticing his mate’s keen interest in everything he said. Carlton loved this trait of Scorpio’s; she was a wonderful listener, and additionally frequently provided him with intellectual inspiration.

“Harry has taken note that a lot of cats, especially here in Budleigh, have gotten pretty accustomed to a very soft life style, and it is beginning to show up in their more than ample girth. So Harry has come up with an idea for a low carbohydrate diet for cats. He has patterned it after the Atkins Diet. He and I came up with the name “Cat-A-LEAN-A,” and he has already sent a registered letter to Dr. Atkins to see if we can put his visage on the side of the can.”

Carlton stopped talking and looked at Scorpio for her reaction and was elated to see her cavorting about and giggling.

“Oh Carlton, that is a fantastic idea, and sooo clever.”

Carlton beamed and pranced about a bit, his long striped tail flicking about. He always did that tail thing when he was excited, and nothing got him going more than praise from his woman; she was his biggest fan. Carlton basked in the glory of this latest brilliant idea for a few minutes and then lit into another story.

“And another thing that I have got going on, Scorpio, is an idea that Harvey the orange tabby over at Milner’s house brought to me the other day. Before Harvey was caught and spent time with me over at the Orange County Animal Shelter he used to hang around a lot on the UNC campus at Chapel Hill, in the chemistry department. A couple of the profs over there took a liking to old Harv and he sort of became one of the faculty, of course, in a most subjugated manner; essentially they let him roam around ‘bout where he wanted. While had had all this freedom he hung out in a lot of chemistry classes, and he kept those pointy lil’ ears open.

They had a lot of old patent medicines, you know, liniments, salves, and cures for lethargy – stuff like Geritol and Havecol, what they called ‘patent’ medicines. I remember them from when I lived on that farm near Carrboro before I went to the pen; the farmers used to talk about the traveling drummers who peddled this stuff. The company they mentioned was Rawleigh, and I heard them speak, many times of the Rawleigh Man, and how he would drive up every Wednesday afternoon out there in the country and take their order. They said he was tall and skinny, an angular kind of fella, but very nice. They even had some liniment left over from back then; said he drove a ’57 Chevy.”

Scorpio gazed at her man as he told the story. She just thought he was so smart.

“Anyway, the upshot of the whole thing is that Harvey has concocted an elixir that he thinks has some merit to it, a mixture of vitamins and minerals, plus some mole and vole extract. But he could not come up with a suitable name for it. That is where I came in,” Carlton proclaimed, smiling broadly.

“And the name is,” Scorpio purred, knowing her big cat had a good one.

“Cat-A-Tonic,” proclaimed Carlton, and Scorpio rolled in the grass in a frenzy of giggles.

Carlton pranced around and flicked his tail like a small bullwhip. He was a big showoff, and he loved being that way; but the most important thing was that Scorpio loved it also, for entertaining her was a big deal to Carlton.

“Well, that is a terrific idea,” said Scorpio, “or am I going to get a break from your genius for a moment?”

“Actually I do have something that I have come up with on my own. I want to fabricate little balls of cat food that weigh exactly one ounce; I will call them P-ouncers, and have a picture of a cat pouncing on one of the delicious morsels on the box. “Whadayathink baby?” Carlton asked, grinning slyly, for he already knew the answer.

“Fantastic,” she exclaimed. “Carlton, I declare, your mind is in over drive. Maybe the two of us should do something just for fun, so you could give yourself a respite from all that high powered Kitty Kat thinking you have been doing.”

“Good thought, my dear. Let me ponder that for a moment,” Carlton said, as he walked over toward the bird bath, which was close to over flowing after a heavy rain they day before. Carlton approached his drinking fountain the same way he always did; he would walk slowly up to the birdbath, and when he got within about two feet of the concrete vessel, he would stop, pause for about five seconds, and then deftly leap the two and one half feet, landing lightly on the edge.

Carlton drank his fill, stepping to the raised area in the center. With the recent rain his paws were almost two inches under water there; his rear paws remained resting on the edge. Carlton chuckled to himself as he thought of all the stories he had heard about the fear of water that cats had. It didn’t both him one lick; in fact, he and Scorpio cavorted frequently in the little creek that ran parallel to Churchill Road. When he finished Carlton hopped down and sauntered over to the nest where Scorpio was awaiting his answer.

“I do have a couple of ideas, and we can act on the first one tonight, if you like, lovey.” Carlton said, a hint of challenge in his voice.

“Deal,” exhorted Scorpio, an impish glint building in her eyes. “Spill it.”

“First I must know if you still have that water color paint set that your grandmother gave you,” said Carlton. Scorpio nodded that she did. Carlton quickly explained the essentials of the escapade to his mate, and was overjoyed when Scorpio erupted into a paroxysm of laughter, and again rolled around in the clover in front of their nest.

“Too cool, it will be too cool” Scorpio shouted. So Scorpio went to collect her paint and brushes and the two waited for darkness. While they were lounging about they put out the word that help was needed for a good gag, so by the time night had fallen eight other felines had showed up in the yard.

At that point Carlton filled in the essentials, and they all giggled appreciatively. Then they took off up Churchill Road to Oberlin and quickly crossed over to Wade Avenue, where the deed was to unfold.

Down the hill toward St. Mary’s Street the City of Raleigh had been cutting the grass on the side of the road, and to warn motorists of the activity they had placed a large rectangular orange sign at the side of the road, and in large black letters had stenciled “Mowers Ahead.”

From the first time Carlton had seen the sign he had known what it was destined to become, so he and his friends stood guard in the very sparse traffic as Scorpio broke out her water color paint set and went to work. In less than a minute the nimble pawed Scorpio had drawn a large “E” above the m and the o so the sign then said “MEOWERS AHEAD.”

This accomplished the entourage pranced to a point behind the sign where the cars would get back in their lane and en masse stood at the side of the road grinning at the drivers. Some of them “got it” and laughed at the cats while others just looked quizzically; one driver appeared to be upset and swerved his car toward the lil’ herd, but they were way too fast to be ensnared in that ploy – “Quick as a cat” comes to mind.

After about thirty minutes the group grew weary – cats and that attention span issue you know – and they took off back to the nest. Carlton invited everyone to stay over, a couple of them joining Carlton and Scorpio in the nest and the rest lounging about nearby in the yard.

When Dave got up the next morning and did his usual walk in the back yard he was more than a bit surprised to see snoozing cats lying about; however, it was not a problem, for he loved cats and just figured that Carlton and Scorpio had been up to a bit of mischief. He smiled to himself as he made his way to his ancient ’86 Celebrity to head to work.

In the back yard the snoozers did not stir until after ten and then they all reminisced for nearly a half hour about the evening’s merriment before the visitors departed. Scorpio wondered what sort of deviltry her mate would come up with next, for she well knew that he tended to act on his shenanigans in spells, never just an isolated incident.

It didn’t take long for the ol’ stinker to reveal his next adventure, and after dining on some crunchy dry cat food the mistress of the house had left out he filled in Scorpio on what was going to happen under the cloak of darkness about four o’clock the next morning. Scorpio squealed with delight when Carlton told her what was in the offing.

“Carlton, this is the best one yet,” she purred, looking adoringly at the handsome gray tabby.

“Well, the ideas come easily to me, but I do have a lot of time on my hands,” he said, chuckling as he leaped onto the birdbath for a drink.

The felines lolled about the remainder of the day and drifted off to sleep around dusk, just as the cicadas were starting to chirp in the tall pines of the back yard; the cacophony would start at the left side of the yard and spread to the right, as wave after wave joined in, until it reached a fever pitch, like the fury of the surf at high tide.

But they had no problem with dropping off to sleep with all this noise, for it was completely natural and normal. Carlton actually thought the furor was a peaceful sound.

They both awakened about two o’clock, as they had a ways to travel, all the way downtown. After Scorpio gathered her paint set the two set out at a brisk pace. Their destination was the City of Raleigh Municipal parking lot on West Morgan St., dead downtown. It was three-thirty by the time they arrived, and of course there was no one around. Carlton led Scorpio over to the corner where the five subject vehicles were parked. The City of Raleigh bus system was named Capital Area Transit, and all of the buses were emblazoned with CAT in large letters.

Carlton remembered that when he first came to Raleigh and saw the buses he had thought that CAT was an advertisement for the Caterpillar Heavy Equipment Company. As they approached the cars, all of them were PT Cruisers. Carlton explained precisely how he wanted things done, and Scorpio readily agreed and set to work. Carlton kept an eye out just in case someone might wander by, but they were not interrupted, and by four-thirty all of the vehicles had been attended to.

After Scorpio retrieved her supplies the two of them curled up in a corner nearby and waited for the drivers to show. Carlton had done his homework and knew that the CAT supervisors came to get their cars at precisely six o’clock, and at the appointed hour Carlton and Scorpio watched intently as the four men and one woman walked up.

They could hear the alarm in their voices as they called the head knocker. But as they waited for their boss to show up the cats noticed a change in the drivers’ demeanors. As they walked around the vehicles Carlton and Scorpio heard one of them say “how clever,” and two others use the word “artistic.”

The two felines looked at each other and giggled, then started for home, turning back one last time to view their handiwork. Before Scorpio had gone to work each vehicle had the following words painted on each side in large capital (of course) letters – CAT SUPERVISOR; however, Scorpio had crossed through the word “supervisor” and in Day-Glo Orange had printed in lovely Gothic letters the word HERDERS.

As they looked at their work one last time the cats laughed and noticed that they were not the only ones that were amused; all of the drivers were now pointing and laughing at their new logo.

When the mischievous felines got home to the friendly confines of their little ivy nest they spent a good two hours preening themselves. When Dave was around he especially watched them perform their masterful art of cleaning. He really got a kick out of how Carlton could essentially reach any part of his body, no matter how remote. For example, “how in the world can a cat clean his own head,” Dave wondered. Dave had never really pondered this deep question before, but after watching Carlton in action the mystery was solved; Carlton would lick the bottom of his paw, I mean really load it up, and then cleanse his face and ears. Dave noticed that Carlton could clean his chest just by flicking his long tongue up and down.

“No wonder those cats stay so clean,” Dave said aloud as he watched Carlton in action. Carlton heard him but did not let on, thinking to himself that ol’ Dave really should get out a bit more.

Of course, Scorpio was every bit as fastidious about hygiene, as all cats are, unless they are not feeling well. But all the cats at 2305 Hathaway Road felt great, and looked very good also; however, occasionally Scorpio would want to do something a little extra, and she would go to the thicket behind Jerry’s Hot Dogs, which was across from Snoopy’s Hot Dogs at the corner of Whitaker Mill Road and Wake Forest Road.

Jerry’s wife Katherine ran a small beauty shop in the back of the building called “Katherine’s Kut and Kurl.” She had a steady clientele of blue haired old ladies and she also had a very bright kitty by the name of Karla. Karla had watched Katherine in the shop and had learned quite a bit about the art, and eventually opened a little place in a turned over trash can back up in the ivy thicket, and had been surprised how much in demand she had become – it just seemed that sometimes the female cats got a bit tired of grooming themselves and wanted to let someone else do it.

So once in a while Scorpio would venture down to “Cat-A-Combs,” which is what Karla called her little place. Once there for the price of one mole or a half ounce of dried cat food the lucky feline could receive the treatment, which typically consisted of Karla giving the patron a very extensive currying, extending her claws just a bit to make it feel like a kind of rough massage. The twenty minutes of ecstasy was well worth the price, according to all the customers, and Scorpio really looked forward to her visits; however, nothing is perfect, and there was a slight bump in the glorious highway of the Cat-A-Combs Boutique.

It seemed that Katherine had disposed of some rinse and Karla had found it. The liquid was in a bottle that proclaimed it was “Auburn Rinse,” so Karla took that as gospel truth. Well as Felix Unger said about assuming. . . . . Bottom line was that Scorpio and two of her girlfriends, just for a lark, decided to try the “Auburn Rinse;” unfortunately, it turned all of them a rather chartreuse color. Although chartreuse was absolutely Scorpio’s favorite color, Carlton made big time fun of her and Dave and Kathy made her feel self conscious when they whispered when she was in sight, and made Scorpio feel even more funny when they got real quiet when she made eye contact with them.

It seems that Scorpio’s friends who received the rinse had very similar experiences, so it was decided that they would stick to the currying and not venture into coloration anymore; unfortunately it took over a month for the dye job to fade, but Carlton quit kidding her and the humans in the house eventually shut up about it.

It wasn’t long after this fur-dyeing debacle that Carlton once again got into one of his creative moods. Scorpio had begun noticing that Carlton’s fur was looking especially well groomed; it always was very neat and clean due to his excellent hygiene habits, but somehow the fur had the appearance of being combed, almost like Scorpio’s looked after going to the Cat-A-Combs, sans dyeing. When Scorpio asked him what was going on he pointed to Mrs. Wilson’s yard next door.

Alice Wilson was an elderly woman who had been a very good friend of Kathy’s mother; in fact, Alice had deemed Kathy’s parents potential good neighbors and had sold them the lot, where they had built the house where Dave and Kathy now lived, right in front of the ivy next to where Carlton and Scorpio proudly resided.

Scorpio followed Carlton into Alice’s backyard, where she had a hedgerow of holly bushes; they were low -lying and very thick. Carlton got that impish little grin on his face and said, “Watch this.” Then he began running back and forth through the holly bushes as fast as he could. The prickly leaves went all the way
down to the ground, so Carlton had to push his way through, meeting quite a bit of resistance, but after dashing through the prickly gauntlet ten or twelve times he came to a stop in front of Scorpio and proudly said, “Well, whaddayathink?”

Scorpio looked at her cat man and then it all made perfect sense. His fur looked like he had spent an hour at Karla’s Cat-A-Combs;” it was so well groomed.

“Why it is beautiful,” Scorpio exclaimed, gazing at his lustrous fur.

Carlton chuckled and accepted the compliment. “Now honey,” he said, “I am not trying to talk you into grooming this way, I just wanted you to see my new invention. Anyway, it is none of my business how you spend your moles, as long as it makes you happy.”

Scorpio smiled and rubbed her whiskers against Carlton’s and purred loudly. She loved Carlton’s creative side and always waited in great anticipation to see what would happen next, for their time together had taught her that once he got on a roll there would be a succession of fun events. She was not disappointed.

Scorpio had noticed that Carlton was muy preoccupado about something; it had been going on for the better part of two weeks. She had seen him communicating with Dave on a few occasions, and they both would go into his little shop, which in addition to being a home for his giant plum colored Yamaha V-Star 1100 motorcycle housed a fair amount of carpentry tools.

On one occasion Scorpio sneaked up on the deck outside the shop and watched as Carlton was describing to Dave what he wanted. Carlton was holding his paws this way and that way, apparently conveying some sort of dimensional information. Of course, Scorpio did not mention this to Carlton, nor did she say anything when she espied him emerging from the basement cat door with an ancient ping-pong net in his mouth. Kathy’s parents had a ping pong table down there in the sixties, but after Kathy and her sister, Millie had grown up, interest in ping pong had waned and the equipment had been stowed away for a very long time.

Again Scorpio held her tongue; she knew her Big Cat well enough to know that things would be revealed soon, very soon, for she could see the anticipation in Carlton’s eyes and feel the ramping up of energy in him just by watching him, which was a favorite pastime of the dutiful mate.

The denouement came when on an early fall Saturday morning Carlton called to Scorpio and told her that they must capture as many moles as they could as quickly as possible. Scorpio was delighted to agree to the mole challenge, not even asking why. Sometimes one could be too inquisitive, and being a cat, Scorpio was well aware of that fabled feline trait, but she had found during her time with Carlton that it was way more fun just to play along and let him weave his scenario.

At least that was the way she figured it, and so far it had worked well. So for three hours that crisp morning the two cats scoured the ivy in the backyard, all around the algae laden birdbath, the collapsed ivy covered retaining wall, and even searched diligently about the base of the St. Francis statue. For their efforts they were rewarded with a total of thirty moles of various sizes which they quickly dropped into a gallon paint bucket that Carlton had borrowed with Dave’s consent.

After about thirty minutes the moles ceased squealing and most of them fell asleep, quite mole-like behavior. It was then that Carlton put out the word, and within thirty minutes the backyard was fraught with their cat friends. They were all quite excited, for they were in the know, unlike Scorpio, but she came to the delightful realization when she saw Carlton take the bucket of moles and turn it over in the middle of the backyard; it was one of Carlton’s favorite games – MOLE TOSSING.

As soon as the moles started scurrying all of the cats began cupping their paws and scooping up the critters and lofting them skyward; then they would leap into the air and swat the moles over and over again in an attempt to keep them from hitting the ground. Scooter, a Persian from around the corner on Piccadilly was quite adept at this sport and it was noted that he kept his mole in the air by far the longest.

After a while both cats and moles tired a bit, for leaping into the air and being swatted can tire out even the best cat and mole, so Carlton rolled out the old ping pong net he had secured from the basement and they chose up sides for a game of moley ball. Carlton and Scorpio wound up on the same team and they won 21 – 18, mostly because of Carlton’s spiking ability.

After the game, Carlton gathered up the rather dazed moles into the gallon paint can and gave them a little water and a chance to revive for a bit. Jake, a big gray Maine Coon, with a huge silver mane on his chest suggested that they get the badminton racquets from the shed and use the moles as shuttlecocks, but Kathy, the mistress of the house overheard him and put a stop to the idea quickly, deeming it too cruel even for a mole.

As the group lolled about in the grass Carlton emerged from the shed where the motorcycle stayed with two wedge shaped plywood creations, each one having a hole about the size of a baseball near the top of the incline. They were quite a confused group of cats until Carlton set things up and grabbed a mole from the gallon bucket.

“You see,” he explained, “you just toss the mole onto the smooth plywood surface and let it slide toward and hopefully into the hole. I call it “Mole Hole,” Carlton proudly proclaimed. The cats caught on quickly and they paired off into two cat teams and played for a long time.

Kathy and Dave watched from the deck and discussed whether or not they were witnessing abject cruelty, finally concluding that what they were doing was not as cruel as the typical fate of the moles, that being eaten. Having sorted out this weighty philosophical matter to their human and humane satisfaction they went about their routine and left the group to their own devices.

All the other tired out cats drug themselves homeward and Scorpio and Carlton cleaned up a bit and took a nap. The party had been a smashing success; they had been so happy with the event that they mercifully tipped the mole can over and allowed the furry little buggers to escape.

Carlton awoke first and sat washing himself and watching Scorpio. He was a little concerned about her; she had seemed a little sluggish lately and as he watched her doze he could swear that she was gaining weight. Carlton ruminated on this for several days and then went to seek the advice of Lantana, an older cat who lived around the corner on Chester Road.

Lantana had moved into Budleigh a few years ago, having come from near Orlando; Lantana had sort of set herself as the resident medical expert; her retired mistress, Lois Jane, having been an RN in a delivery room for forty-five years. Lantana listened patiently as Carlton told his story, asking a pointed question now and then.

The old cat looked at Carlton and smiled broadly. “Why Mr. Carlton, you are going to be a daddy,” she said, watching Carlton to see if she would need to revive him. But Carlton did not faint; moreover, he started running around the yard, roaring about dodging chairs and flowerpots. This was something Carlton always did when he was very happy.

When Carlton tired out he returned to the patiently waiting Lantana, for she knew he would have questions, and there were a few things she needed to tell him.

Lantana explained that the gestation period for a cat was about nine weeks and that the female would typically give birth to between two to six kittens. Lantana further informed the father to be that the expectant mother was known as a “queen.”

Carlton loved this idea and immediately said, “Then I guess I am King Carlton.”

Lantana laughed and shook her head. “Sorry Carlton, she said, “it does not work that way.”

Carlton readily accepted, for truly he was sort of joking. Lantana then told Carlton that gauging by his description of Scorpio and the weight gain she figured that she would be birthing in about three weeks.

Carlton floated home to Hathaway Road and gave Scorpio the wonderful news; she too was very excited, and especially loved the part about her having elevated to “queen” status.

When Carlton saw her excitement about the new royal status he quickly went into Dave’s shop where the plum colored motorcycle resided and found a long strand of aluminum wire and fashioned it into a makeshift crown. Scorpio loved it, and after the excitement leveled off a bit and they settled down the two of them decided to keep it a secret from Dave and Kathy and make it all a huge surprise.

So for the next three weeks Scorpio took it easy, Carlton waiting on her paw and paw. Dave and Kathy noticed her inactivity but Carlton explained it away as a touch of hay fever; Kathy even offered to take her to the vet, but Carlton assured them that everything was fine.

Then one early morning in October Carlton scratched on the kitchen door and meowed loudly, over and over. The humans were a bit perplexed when they came to the door, for Carlton was normally very quiet and was never given to excessive caterwauling.

He stopped when they came out on the porch and stood up on his back paws and extended his right forepaw toward the nest. The humans followed Carlton as he walked to the nest and then stood proudly by the entrance; Dave and Kathy peered into the little ivy burrow and espied Scorpio lying in there with some sort of strange aluminum hat on her head, but as their eyes adjusted they saw that Scorpio was suckling four kittens – two looked just like her (Calico) and two like Carlton (Gray Tabby).

The humans beamed and cooed, just like everyone does around babies, but their happiest looks came when Carlton motioned for Dave to stoop down so that he could whisper in his ear.

Dave stood up and told Kathy, “Carlton says that we have grandkits.” Then all four of them laughed and gazed upon the newcomers adoringly.

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