7. Unwelcomed Visitors
Momma Cat, Bandit and Uncle Magoo stretched out in the brightly cast sunbeam in the patio sunroom. Uncle Magoo grumbled as he rolled onto his back with his paws curled in front of his chest. Momma Cat laid with her head on her forepaws. Her rear paws were touching Bandit's who was laying perpendicular to her. His front shoulder was completely healed from his injury and he enjoyed warming it in the sunshine. The adults' peace was disturbed by the arrival of three recklessly charging kittens. Little One plowed into Uncle Magoo who rewarded the intrusion with a sharp hiss and swat of his paw. Alyssa skidded into Bandit and began apologize profusely. Eppy did not collide with her mother, but gracefully cleared, in a single bound, her mother’s reclining form effortlessly.
"Oww" Little One tenderly rubbed his head where Uncle Magoo had cuffed him.
"You two are definitely a disgrace to the name Cat." Eppy said haughtily as she sat with her tail curled about her body.
"What is into you three?" Momma Cat asked as she sat up. Her tail curled around her body and quickly showed where Eppy had received her grace and posture.
"There are strange Twolegs here, Momma." Alyssa said excitedly. She was always ecstatic when strangers arrived at the house.
"It is as I had always feared." Momma Cat sighed.
"What have you feared, Momma." Eppy asked.
Little One looked at Bandit who knowingly looked away. Bandit knew what was happening, and had not told Little One about it.
"What's happening?" Little One asked as he shot a sharp look at Bandit.
"You are all getting bigger." Momma Cat explained. "I had hoped that we would stay together, but it is probably not to be. I want you all to know that I love you more than life itself and that wherever you go I will love you and will think of you always."
"Are you going some place, momma?" Alyssa asked
Little One and Eppy looked at her sideways. Alyssa had never been the smartest kitten.
"No. One of us might." Little One replied.
Momma Cat nodded. Uncle Magoo rolled over like none of this mattered. Bandit sat up and his tail began to flick angrily on the floor.
“I don’t want to go.” Alyssa said sadly. “I want to stay here with the cinnamon Twolegs.”
"Do we hide, Momma?" Little One asked.
"No, Little One." Momma Cat's resolve hardened. "We go and show these new Twolegs what good cats we are. I want you to follow me to the front door. If we are to be parted this day, we will do it with dignity. Just like I was taught by my mother when I was your age."
Before the Twolegs had a chance to start calling for the kittens and Momma Cat, the four cats trotted purposefully down the hallway towards the front door of the house. The male Twolegs was about to go hunting for kittens. He stopped as Momma Cat trotted towards him with her kittens playfully darting from side to side. Alyssa was right; there were two strange Twolegs at the door. Momma Cat twined herself around the legs of the female Twolegs of the house and sat down on the floor. Her kittens did what kittens do best. They excitedly tore around the foyer of the house.
The strange female Twolegs squealed excitedly as Alyssa and Eppy playfully chased each other over her shoes. Little One sat down on his haunches and looked up at the strange male Twolegs. They did not smell right to him; the Scent was wrong about these Twolegs. He could not let any of his family go with these two.
"Alyssa. Eppy." He cried out. "They don't smell right."
"What do you mean?" Eppy asked.
"Trust your nose." Little One said.
The three kittens started sniffing the air about the two strange Twolegs. The wrongness that Little One had sensed became evident to his sisters. Little One thought the couple smelled of fear. It was not the Twolegs’ own fear, but another cat's fear. It was old, but at some time in the last four months, one of their own had been deathly afraid of these two. The female reached down to picked up Alyssa.
"Bite her, Alyssa!" Little One yelled. "Bite her now!"
Alyssa trusted her brother and did as he asked. She bit into the soft fleshy thumb that was closest to her. The female screamed as sharp kitten teeth found their mark. The female shook off Alyssa who was quickly scooped up the male Twolegs of the house. The strange male reached for Eppy.
"Scratch him. Scratch as deep as you can." Little One called to Eppy.
Eppy shot Little One a quick look. It was the look of one who did not like being told what to do, even when they knew it was the right thing to do. Eppy quickly unsheathed her claws and then in a spin of feline grace, she dug her claws into the man's forearm. Like the strange female, the male frantically attempted to pull his arm away from the suddenly ferocious kitten. When he freed his hand, a thin trickle of blood seeped from a deep scratch.
Momma Cat was mortified to see her kittens acting so unruly. She moved to reprimand the kittens but was restrained by the female Twolegs of the house. Suddenly Momma Cat and the three kittens were ushered away from the front door by the female Twolegs. The male Twolegs could be heard apologizing to the strange couple at the front door.
All the cats were quickly locked in the sunroom at the rear of the house. Momma Cat turned angrily towards her kittens.
"What was that about?" She hissed angrily. "What made you behave like that?"
Bandit moved towards Momma Cat's side and positioned himself between her and the kittens.
"Ask him why?" Bandit said softly so that only Momma Cat could hear. Bandit moved along and added, "Ask Little One why he told his sisters to attack."
"Little One." Momma Cat shot Bandit an angry look as he moved away then collapsed leisurely to the floor. "What happened?"
"They smelled wrong, Momma." Little One replied, "They just smelled wrong."
"Wrong how?" Momma Cat queried her kittens.
"They smelled of fear." Eppy moved forward. "But it wasn't their fear."
"A cat marked them with fear, Momma." Alyssa added, emboldened by her siblings. "A cat was terrified of them."
"Did you smell this first, Eppy? Alyssa?" Momma asked.
Eppy looked at her mother in the eye. She wanted to say that she knew as soon as Little One, but the tremble that settled into her paws betrayed her. Eppy reluctantly shook her head. Alyssa shook her little head negatively. The girls knew instinctively that Little One had saved them from something terrible.
"How did you know?" Momma Cat pointedly asked Little One.
"I smelled the fear of another cat on them. Somehow they were in the presence of a cat that was scared for its life. It was scared enough to mark them with its fear. The fear was layered about them. It was not just once they were marked."
Bandit stood up and nonchalantly walked towards Little One. He stopped and regarded the little black kitten.
"A marking like that could simply mean that they were in presence of scared cats." Bandit posed.
"No." Little One stated. "It was the same cat. It was the same scent. It was laid over and over again on these people. One of our own did not want another cat to end up with these people."
The Twoleg Nofurs of the house entered the sunroom and regarded the six cats lounging and sitting on the floor. Little One walked over and began rubbing and purring against the female’s leg. The female picked Little One and shook her head as she tried to reconcile the scene of three affectionate kittens with the antisocial behaviour she had just witnessed. Alyssa and Eppy followed Little One’s lead and began rubbing and playing against the male. These Twoleg Nofurs were to be trusted. Little One had realized today that Bandit had been right in some regards; that outside this house there were dangers that he and his sisters were not prepared for.
“If your mother ever figures out that I taught you about the Scent.” Bandit warned Little One as he gently gave the kitten an affectionate head butt, “She’s going to scar both of us.”
“You saved my sisters today, Bandit.” Little One replied as he rubbed against the older cat.
“What do you mean?” Bandit asked.
“The Scent was female, Bandit.” Little One whispered. “I was never in danger. They were here for another female. No kitten of the Bound would have been able to sense that, only one of the Free stood a chance. You were wrong, Bandit. Bound or Free, we can care for and protect each other. We just have to choose to.”