How Runner Meets The Cat With The Funny Name
Runner was not happy. Very not happy. She stomped into the
other room. She knew that stomping was useless. Her big furry
feet made no noise, but it made her feel better anyway. She had
heard her human chattering away this morning about taking care of
another cat for a week How can she do this, Runner thought. Have
another cat in my house? For a week? I don't think so. No way.
Very no way. I'll just go into the bedroom and I won't come out.
That's what I'll do, I won't come out. That always made her human
anxious, so she only used that trick when she was very upset.
Very, very upset.
The big day arrived, and Runner was listening from the bedroom. She had seen her human come in with a carrier so she had run off to the bedroom as planned. She had to make her displeasure known as soon as possible. But now, instead of coming to get Runner, her human was talking to this other cat. Saying all of the cooing things it said to Runner. And ignoring Runner!
Runner paced, stiff legged, stomping back and forth. Whiskers twitching, tail swishing, back and forth. I will not let this intruder into my life. It will not, very not, take my place. She heard her human call the other cat Itty-Bitty. Itty-Bitty! What in cats' kingdom is a name like that? Runner gave a very unlady-like snort. My name is Runner. That's because I'm the fastest runner in the world. That's because I run this household. I have earned my name. I live up to my name. She swished her huge bushy tail back and forth. All twelve pounds of her quivered.
She went to the bedroom door and peeked around the jam. Saw her human sitting in its chair with this tiny thing on its lap. Cream colored, brown tabby patches, sleek and slim. The human called to Runner. Runner just stood there looking. The little cat looked over at Runner and smirked. Runner did what she did best, and ran. Right under the bed. How could she be such a coward? She needed to go out there and confront that little, sleek thing. But how could she? It was sitting in Runner's place.
It was bedtime. Runner always slept in the bed, the human by her side. Tonight, the long, lithe, sleek intruder cat slept in the bathroom. She had a soft blanket, food and water and a litter box all to herself. Everything would be all right thought Runner. This intruder won't last long and everything will be back to normal again soon. Stretch, long stretch, purr and settling down by her human, Runner slept.
The next day, before the human went off to work, it put the intruder into Runner's bedroom. Moved all of the intruder's stuff in there. Runner was locked out. Of course, she had the rest of the place to herself, but that was Runner's bedroom! At least the dumb thing is out of my way, thought Runner. As Runner made her normal rounds, checking on things, making sure everything ran smoothly, she kept watching the space under the bedroom door. Occasionally she would catch a glimpse of tiny paws. A sniff of the intruder's smell. Faint. Delicate. Female.
Runner looked down at her paws. Large, furry. She jumped to the top of the sofa and looked into the mirror. Short legged, long bodied, long belly fur, huge tail. She was most definitely not the sleek, delicate feline that Itty-Bitty was. But I'm powerful thought Runner. I need strength for what I do. You can't save the whole world if you're a weakling. Ok, so she's probably not a weakling, but to be the most fierce cat in the kingdom, you have to be really strong. And I'm really strong! When she finished this self-pep talk, Runner settled down for her afternoon nap.
The human came home and let Itty-Bitty out. Runner pretended not to notice and the intruder ignored Runner. This went on for several days. Daytime spent separated, evenings all together and nights with Runner in her own bed and the intruder in the bathroom. The day finally came when the human didn't separate them at night. Runner did not sleep that night. She absolutely refused to give up her bed. Every time the intruder came near, Runner tensed. She made no sound, but the intruder knew that she would be in great trouble if she invaded Runner's space.
The next morning, Runner still in her bed, she heard the human muttering. Something about robe strings. Where had they gone.... where is the belt to my robe? The human was looking under everything, everywhere. Finally the human got dressed and left the house, forgetting to separate the two. The intruder cat was perched on the easy chair, grooming herself, smirking. Runner started in with her normal rounds ignoring Itty-Bitty. While Runner was checking out the bedroom closet, she found the robe belt. Tucked away under some shoes. Humm... how did this get here? Oh well, she'd put it back where it belonged. The rest of the day Runner stayed in the bedroom.
That night, as the perplexed human tied its robe, it was Runner that smirked. See, thought Runner. It takes a strong, smart cat to keep this house in order. But the next morning the robe belt was missing again. The human stood there, looking at it's robe, shaking it's head. Runner immediately went to the closet, and sure enough, under the shoes, there it was. Runner proudly carried the belt back to the human.
Instead of a thank-you hug, Runner got a hollering. But she wasn't being mean. She wasn't being a mean, spiteful, selfish cat. Oh, how could her human think that way about her. It wasn't fair. Runner just wanted to crawl into a hole and pull a rock over herself. Instead she did the next best thing. She slunk under the bed. And she cried. With hardly a sniffle, so no one could hear her, the proud, strong, brave Runner cried.
But the intruder cat heard her. The sleek, lithe, beautiful, dainty cat heard Runner cry. She hadn't had a chance to tell Runner that the robe belt thing was a game she had played with her own human. She had thought that this human knew the game too. She was lonely, missed her own human and thought that Runner was in on the game. How could she make it up to the hero Runner? She had heard about Runner for years. How strong Runner was. How fearless Runner was. She knew that she could never be that strong and she was afraid of so many things. This time she had to be strong. She had to make this human understand that it was not Runner's fault.
Itty-Bitty ran to the bathroom, grabbed the robe in her little teeth. Inch by inch she pulled it off of the doorknob and towards the human in the kitchen. It took her almost ten minutes to drag that robe down the hallway. As soon as the human saw her, Itty-Bitty dropped the robe itself and picked up the belt. Cleverly she worked it out of the loops - just as she had three other times. When she had it free she dragged it to the human and dropped it at the human's feet. Understanding finally crept across the human's face. Runner wasn't being mean. Itty-Bitty was playing. This was obviously something Itty-Bitty had done many times before.
Itty-Bitty ran towards the bedroom and close to the bed. She purred the entire story out to Runner. She humbly asked Runner for forgiveness. Runner sheepishly crept out from her hiding place. She looked at Itty-Bitty, chirruped something to her and both of them ran to the kitchen. Runner picked up one end of the belt and Itty-Bitty picked up the other end. The two of them ran with that belt from one end of the house to the other. They wrapped themselves around tables, chairs, lamps and the human. The human laughed so hard it had to sit down.
There was a knock at the door. It was Itty-Bitty's human. As they were leaving, Itty-Bitty smiled at Runner. Only then did Runner see that it wasn't a smirk. It just looked that way because of the little patches of orange on her cheeks. She wasn't smirking at Runner, she was smiling! Smiling at her hero.
Oh yes, thought Runner, as she made the rounds of her house. I am strong. I am a mighty warrior. I am the fiercest cat in the kingdom (and now I also know how to get that robe belt out!) I am the best!
This story is dedicated to Julie Ann Reid, who
has a cat named Itty-Bitty, who plays the robe belt game. Thank
you Julie. Love, Runner.
This story is reprinted here with permission of the author, Karel Bergstrom. Please visit Karel's Restless Legs Syndrome support site, Nightwalkers to read more of her stories and for the story behind the stories.