Skip the Life Fantastic

Submitted into Contest #187 in response to: Set your story in a cat shelter.... view prompt



Skip the Life Fantastic

My friend Sheila asked me if she could write my life story and post it on the Reception’s notice board. She thinks it’s a beautiful story and should be shared with potential adoptees or foster parents to know how life was before I was rescued and brought to the Shelter. Sheila apologises for any inconsistencies that may have occurred in the translation between my feline communication and Sheila’s human language.

My life started on the damp streets; they always felt wet, even on a dry day. I’m honestly not sure what happened to my mum. I vividly remember being cuddled against a cat tummy covered in warm dark ginger fur with six milk-heavy nipples poking through. I would give them a damned good suck and get a rush of milky liquid. Boy, it was good. Tasty and warm, my little tummy would eventually feel full and round. On other days, I just sucked and sucked and got nothing except a big ginger paw swiping me across the head. 

Ginger was popular with the male population of our neighbourhood. I could hear the highly salacious comments made by the handsome boy cats and listened to the old men cats trying out all their old chat-up lines on her. The female cats, however, spoke unpleasantly about her amongst themselves. 

She was a rather gorgeous number, and despite living under the rubbish bins, her fur coat always seemed to shine and glow, positively demanding to be touched and loved by all who saw her. Despite previous pregnancies, she still had a damned good figure and possessed the confidence of a Hollywood star. The only drawback of being so glorious, with her burnished gold thick fur coat, big dark emerald-green eyes, and pert little black nose, was that she was in danger of losing her looks and suffering from shrivelled worn-out nipples and kitten exhaustion due to her popularity. 

Food was a number one priority in the cat colony, and having too many kittens caused all kinds of problems for both the female and male cats. The males fought furiously, and some of these fights produced dreadful wounds that old Tom, Sam, or Fred never fully recovered from. The Mama cats often died in cat birth or due to lack of nutrition. It was a hard life - the street’s cat colonies.

One day Ginger popped out to find a mouse or two and never returned. I had no idea where she’d gone. If I’d been a bit older, I’d have plucked up the courage and asked the neighbours. The neighbours were not friendly; none would’ve ever popped over to my little wet space and willingly offered to tell me anything. 

Living under a rubbish skip, cold and wet, with no food to hand, and having no idea how to obtain food, was not how I thought my childhood was supposed to pan out. How to find food; keep warm and dry? And, importantly, preventing being viciously attacked was my number one priority.

From underneath the skip, I could see human feet moving past. They couldn’t see me, so I was never bothered. But as time passed and no Ginger returned, my stomach began to hurt like mad. Added to my maddening hunger, things crawled over my eyes, causing difficulties with my sight. Black mites crawled everywhere and made my ears uncontrollably itchy, and my nose began to drip perpetually. As a very young kitten, who had newly opened her eyes, everything was new. When I slept, I would remember the luxury of cuddling up tightly to Ginger, but now I was alone, living beneath the skip. 

Before long, sitting under the skip, contemplating my dismal future, I eventually heard the lid of the skip opening and someone attempting to throw their rubbish away. Thank goodness they missed, and a milky, sweet mess splodged over the pavement. I rushed out, desperate for something to eat and drink. The glorious milky product spilt out from a small carton and began to spread over the pavement. I began lapping and lapping as quickly as I could, alert to running and hiding should any danger arise. 

Soon I heard the skip being opened again. This time a round meaty thing slid down the side and splattered onto the ground. Yum, yum. My teeth were tiny, but I could suck and lick the meat patty. As I sat hunched over my meal, loud things on the road would whizz past, and the wheels would spurt filthy, cold water over me. I kept away from these noisy things as I’d seen old, blind Caesar disappearing under some wheels. I don’t know where Caesar went, but some furry flat thing was left in his place. 

Some of these vehicles on the road were huge. I sometimes saw people looking and pointing towards me. I couldn’t determine if this were a good or bad thing, so I would run and hide under the skip until the huge vehicle had passed.

I knew I was unlikely to be able to defend myself, so I stayed under the skip as much as possible during the day. The whole cat colony would appear on the pavements after dark, all of us searching for food and water. The food was not to be shared amongst us - it was to be fought and scrapped over. The bigger the cat, the more food it got. We little ones tended to remain underfed and often began to suffer various illnesses.

The mites crawled all over my face and were particularly attracted to my runny eyes, which I frequently couldn’t open after I had collapsed into an exhausted sleep. I bumbled around, trying to find something solid to rub against and open my eyes. Crispy bits of goo would fall off them, allowing me to open them quite wide for a few minutes. I knew that if Ginger had been around, she would have washed my eyes with her tongue, and I’m sure I could have seen quite well.

Things began to get worse. Becoming desperate for food, I was finally forced to crawl out from under the skip during daylight hours; if only the owners of those passing feet would throw or drop some food. I didn’t have much success. I heard the humans walking past, and I would miaow piteously, roughly translating to ‘Feed Me, Feed Me’. I listened to the humans’ voice change from ‘Oh look, a cute little kitten’ to ‘Ugh, look at its dreadful eyes, covered in fleas or something - don’t go anywhere near it’.

Within a few hours, I noticed my breathing was now coming in short sharp gasps. I was now blind and starving. Fear gripped me. I knew things were not going well when I suddenly heard a sound: 

‘Kitty, kitty, come here, kiss, kiss’. 

I tried to shrink back and get behind the skip, but blindness hampered me. Apart from the food dropping occasionally, I knew almost nothing about a human except that they were huge and seemed to eat delicious food. In panic and trying to get away from the human talking to me, I managed to squeeze myself under the skip, and a short while later, I could feel a giant gloved hand waving and searching for me under the skip.

‘Where are you, Kitty? Come to Sheila’.

I drew back as far as I could and hissed as terrifyingly as I knew. Sheila was not going to touch me! The more I hissed, the more Sheila made crooning kissing noises and gently called: ‘Kitty, kitty’.

‘OK, that’s not working. Let’s try with food,’ said Sheila to her companion.

I could smell delicious meaty food in some gravy. Mmmmm. I couldn’t see anything, but I could smell it. All went very quiet - had Sheila gone? 

I crawled on my poor, starving belly and managed to nose myself to the paper plate with food on it. As I hunched over the plate, all my fear of danger passed as I began to wolf down the food. I had no idea how long it had been since last eating. Just as I finished the last crumbs, Sheila lifted me aloft by the scruff of my neck. 

As I dangled in the air, crying and meowing, ‘where’s the food’ Sheila, still wearing the giant gloves, stroked me and made kissing noises to try to calm me. She then walked me to her car, parked opposite my skip, and gently put me in a cage with a plate of food. 

‘We need to take you to the Doctor, Kitty’.

The cage closed. The car creaked as bodies clambered in, and I became aware of a strange movement as the car rumbled over the tarmac, and off we went. It was warm and dry in my cage.

I was terrified when Sheila carried me from her car and took me to the vet’s surgery. In my blindness, I meowed and meowed, trying to imagine the awful thing about to happen. Once inside a room, I was placed on a table with Sheila’s arms around me. 

“Kitty, this is Alan, the doctor. He’s going to make you feel better.”

Alan, a nice gentle-sounding man, spent a lot of time on my eyes, putting drops in and wiping them with some ointments and cotton wool, and in no time, my eyes popped open. 

‘Oh, what beautiful green eyes’, Sheila said.

Have I? Ginger never told me about my eyes; she fed me and let me sleep up close to her, but other than that, we had little interaction. She never even bothered saying goodbye when she left, never to return.

Alan gave me a nasty injection in my leg, which I didn’t like. Next, he forced my mouth open and put something down my throat. I began to cry. Please, let’s hope there’s no more of this. I began to curse myself for not staying hidden behind my skip. 

I finally looked at Sheila for the first time and realised she had a friendly face, not as good-looking as Ginger, but really attractive.

‘Would you like a bath, Kitty?’

Meow’. (No! Give me food.)

‘After we’ve bathed you, it’s dinner time’, said Sheila smiling at me.

‘Ah’, I thought, ‘this is more like it. If you must bathe me, get it over and done with quickly.’


So here I was, curled up on a warm rug, bathed, fed and able to see. I could hear other cats in the corridor but couldn’t see them. I felt pretty safe in my cat pen, and sure, the other cats in this strange colony would not attack me. I was not looking forward to being returned to life behind the skip.

The door of my pen opened, and in came Sheila.

‘Hello, little one. Do you want more food?’

‘Do I? Yes, I do; frankly, my stomach is bursting, but I’m prepared to give it a go.’ 

Sheila picked me up and set me on her lap. I tried to get away, but she held me firmly, stroking my whole body from my head to my tail, and then began stroking me again. Oooh, this was nice, but should I let Sheila see how nice it was? I’d never met a human before - how was I supposed to act?

She picked me up higher and snuggled me into her neck. How lovely and warm, and her hair was gorgeous. I started kneading her shoulders, and a loud noise started coming from me - purrrrr purrrrr. I hadn’t heard that noise before, but it made my body feel lovely. Mmmmm, more, more. This is good.


I stayed in my cat pen in the shelter for a few more days, fed and watered, dry and warm. Human workers cheerily shouted: ‘Hi Kitty, how you doing?’. Sheila would pop in quite regularly. It turned out she was a nurse at the vet’s practice that was attached to the cat shelter.

Sitting with me in my pen while I snuggled into her lovely warm neck, she told me she needed to talk seriously with me.

She stared into my little face and said: ‘We want to know if you can help us. We have a new Office Manager cat. She’d been run over when brought in to us and had to be urgently operated on. She is quite beautiful, and we thought how lovely she’d look in the front office, welcoming frightened, ill cats into the surgery. But poor Candy just isn’t happy, and so far, we can’t get her to interact with our new patients. 

We would like to know if you can persuade Candy to try a one-on-one with you - a new needy baby kitten. What d’ya think, Kitty? Willing to give it a go?’

I looked aghast at Sheila. She must be joking. I came from a colony, and sitting having one to one’s with each other was not how we lived. Every cat was considered a mortal enemy, a rival, for food, living space, and sex. If this Candy cat wasn’t happy, god knows how she’d react when she saw me.

Sheila picked me up and cuddled me tightly so I couldn’t wriggle out of her arms; she walked me down the corridor to the front office. Sheila kept chatting with me, explaining the big cat’s job. The main task was to calm all the newly arrived cats and make them feel loved and wanted. 

Sheila assured me I had nothing to fear from Candy.

‘Candy, this is little Kitty, who is just getting back on her feet. She only arrived here a few days ago. Can you look after her for a short while? She needs lots of love, so no swiping with your big paws. I’ll be watching you.’

I looked at Candy in amazement. She was a stunningly beautiful dark ginger cat with emerald green eyes. As Candy stood up and walked towards me swinging her hips in that Hollywood sexy manner of hers, I miaowed: ‘Mum, mum’.

Ginger ran to me, meowing: ‘Little one, thank god, I’ve been so worried.’ She immediately started licking and kissing me. I clung to her until Ginger rolled over, exposing her cuddly furry tummy. I immediately began to snuggle and search for her nipple. I finally lay in mum’s tummy, kneading happily away. That lovely loud sound started to come from both of us: Purr Purr.

‘Wow’, said Sheila to the Receptionist, ‘Candy finally seems to understand her job. Look at her all over that little kitten. I think we’ll leave Candy and Kitty together for a while. They have clearly bonded.’


I have had a long and happy life at the Cat Rescue Centre. Sheila continued to look after both Candy and me. My name was changed to Beauty. Candy and I would often lie together on the Reception counter, receiving kisses or strokes from any passing human. If we weren’t together on the counter, we were busy helping Alan with his ‘Rounds’ in the multiple cat pens. Candy and I did our best to ensure that no cat felt frightened, lonely or neglected.

Once Candy reached retirement age and found it a little tricky to get around, Sheila decided to let her live permanently in her house. I took over mum’s job as the Chief Office Cat Manager and have loved looking after all the cats as they are brought to us - often injured, terrified, starving and shaking. I do as mum taught me. I give them a welcome kiss, and then I start licking them - our cat way of saying: ‘Don’t worry - we are going to love and look after you’.


Humans, when you come into the Cat Rescue Centre, I will warmly welcome you but be aware that I am not for adoption. I am the Office Cat Manager and am here for every poor cat that has suffered either from an accident, may have suffered cruelty, or is a stray. I try to ensure that no cat coming here will ever again have to spend days, as I did, under a skip, starving and blind. As long as I remain Office Cat Manager here, I will do all I can to ensure a loving and kind home will be found for each cat that is rescued: every one of them.

March 03, 2023 12:07

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MJ Simons
06:37 Mar 05, 2023

Wow, Stevie! This is a sad but beautiful story. I like how it's narrated by a young kitten, and we follow her through life's adventures, challenges, and happiness. The description of the mother cat and living under the skip was perfect. You perfectly described cat diseases, but I was glad when the vet saw the kitty and the kitty could finally see. I loved the contrast between the wet skip, "they always felt wet, even on a dry day," and the security in the cage, "It was warm and dry in my cage." This excellent contrast showed the reader an ...


Stevie Burges
15:29 Mar 05, 2023

Thanks so much MJ. I so enjoyed writing it - cat diseases must be my thing! I’ll look at the new prompts that have come and see if I can write anything in time for next week.


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Zack Powell
01:46 Mar 05, 2023

The thing I appreciate most about this story is that the shelter element isn't the entirely of the narrative setting. I think this story would lose a lot of its charm and effectiveness if we were in the shelter the whole time from the beginning to the end. Instead, by transitioning from the streets to the shelter, from rags to riches as it were, we get a more well-rounded characterization of Beauty. Plus, narratively, it's just more satisfying to have the linear storytelling you chose. So thank you for that. My second-most appreciated thing...


Stevie Burges
01:56 Mar 05, 2023

Your critiques totally blow me away. Thanks for spending the time reading my story and critiquing.


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Delbert Griffith
12:43 Mar 04, 2023

Wonderful and heartwarming, Stevie. You painted a realistic picture of the miserableness of the lives of many stray cats. Well done.


Stevie Burges
02:21 Mar 05, 2023

Thanks so much for reading. I am on 'cat duty' this week looking after the stray, and I make damned sure I am on time for the cat's meals and giving it the best life I can.


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Wendy Kaminski
19:00 Mar 03, 2023

Stevie, how lovely, and how wonderfully heart-warming! The reunion was such a nice touch, and I loved how it explained that little Kitty hadn't been abandoned at all. :) My favorite line that made me chuckle: ‘Do I? Yes, I do; frankly, my stomach is bursting, but I’m prepared to give it a go.’ hehehe So cute! :) Thanks for this terrific story!


Stevie Burges
02:33 Mar 05, 2023

thanks so much Wendy, much appreciated.


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Michelle Oliver
23:25 Mar 05, 2023

This was so lovely and heartwarming. I liked the details of abandonment at the beginning and the developing sense of purpose out little Kitty has. A beautiful story thanks for sharing


Stevie Burges
00:53 Mar 06, 2023

Thanks so much, Michelle, for your kind words.


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