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The Chocolate Cat

By Astrid Sweres (Australia)


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Burmese cats are very playful. They run and they jump, and sometimes they fall.


They also like to chase things,  like leaves and lizards and sometimes (shhhhh) birds! But birds are clever, and usually they miss.


Sometimes,  they poke their noses into things that don’t concern them, and end up with a very sore nose.


But best of all,  Burmese cats like to climb: up trees, up ladders and up to the top of book shelves.


One day,  Milo was sitting in the sun, pretending not to watch a lizard sliding into the shade of a big potplant on the veranda. His eyes seemed shut,  but he was really looking at the lizard through the slits. His creamy fur glowed like a warm glass of milky cocoa. But he was too lazy to move.


A rustle and a jingle came from the garden next door,  and he moved his ears to where the sound came from. He recognised that sound all too well. Whenever he heard that sound,  Milo knew he was going to be annoyed.  He flicked the tip of his tail,  and waited.


He did not have to wait long. Suddenly,  there was a flurry and a flouncing,  and a sleek brown shape landed on his tail. The enemy threw herself on the ground beside him,  scrabbling and biting the tail with her sharp little teeth as Milo tried to flick it away.


The lizard slid deeper into the shadows - two of these huge creatures with the sharp claws were more than enough for him.


Milo was a gentle cat at heart,  but he did not take kindly to being disturbed when he was having a little rest, and especially by a girl. This one was a pest,  with her big golden eyes that could see around corners to where doves were feeding on the lawn,  her silky fur the colour of chocolate and her ability to leap up trees in an instant. But what Milo disliked most of all were her paws,  so dainty but hiding razor sharp claws under the velvety pads.


The lizard hugged the flower pot and watched as the two cats rolled down the steps to the lawn,  scratching each other with paws that clawed and mouths that miaowed. Birds rose screeching into the air as the furry ball came to a sudden stop against the base of the big tree near the path. With a last growl,  Milo untangled himself and stalked slowly away,  tail held high.


Baci (for that was the little cat’s name,  and it means "chocolate kiss" in Italian) was disappointed. She wanted to play,  and Milo was her favourite playmate. Quickly she licked her side to show she didn’t care a bit,  and then she darted after Milo who had disappeared behind the garden shed.


But where was he? Baci looked from right to left,  from the massed flowers of the hydrangea to the pile of logs stacked against the wall. Both of those places were Milo’s best ambush spots,  from where he would leap upon any creature silly enough to miss the sight of a golden tail tip flicking to and fro.


Baci sniffed at the wood pile - no smell of Milo there.


She burrowed under the bushes, into the dark twiggy shade which held a faint smell of Milo, but her nose told her that was last week’s spray.


Now Baci was becoming curious,  and that usually spelled trouble with a capital T. She danced lightly along the path to the door of the shed which stood slightly open. She tested it by putting her face inside until her whiskers touched the sides. Yes,  there was just enough room for her to enter.


The shed was dark and cluttered inside. There was the lawn mower, quiet now but capable of roaring loudly. There were the tools for sawing, cutting and digging, and there was the workbench, just below the shelves jumbled with jars, tins, bottles, boxes, and lots of other shapes. Baci jumped easily up on the bench. She sniffed and sniffed, but couldn’t find a trace of Milo anywhere.


She climbed carefully up on the first shelf and searched through the jars of nails and screws, but found nothing.


Baci worked her way right up to the top shelf where the bad things stood, her nose twitching at the smell of snail pellets and rose spray.


Now Baci was right under the roof. She heard a tiny scratching noise, and stood stiff and still. The scratching was just above her head, and moved along ... sscrit, sscrat. It could be a mouse, one who needed a lesson in manners for walking over a cat, even when they did not know they were doing it.


Quick as a flash, Baci leaped lightly down each shelf, the only noise being the soft thud of her paws when she hit the floor. She pressed herself to the door and peered outside through narrowed eyes.

No bird pecked aimlessly on the path. The coast was clear. She slid silently through the gap, and stole along the side of the shed to the lemon tree which stood alongside. From there she could pounce on any mouse foolish enough to show its nose.


Suddenly, the world turned topsy turvy! Baci found herself flat on her back whilst she tried to scratch and spit, but it was no good. Milo had been watching her from the roof and taken her completely by surprise as he jumped.


He made the most of it. He circled her neck with his mouth (being careful not to use his teeth), and the two cats rolled over the lawn, trying to dislodge each other with their back paws.


Oh, there was a big yowling and a hissing and a growling but it was all in good fun. Milo gave Baci a last nip on her flank, then stretched himself with a lazy yawn.


Baci thought about attacking him whilst his back was turned, but instead she decided to have a stretch too.


Then the two cats spread themselves out in the shade of the veranda, one the colour of chocolate and the other the colour of warm milk. They yawned once more and closed their eyes.


Time to sleep.


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