THE CHRISTMAS CAT: a story based on fact*

Kimmie the cat lived a quiet and peaceful life in her home on top of a 9,000-ft.-high mountain in the Colorado Rockies.  As Christmas drew near, little Kimmie would sit on her favorite window ledge and watch the snow fall and pile higher and higher.  When it snowed continuously for three days in late December, she knew she wouldn’t see brown soil again until May.  Kimmie was happy and content with her lot in life.  Her number one person, Sharon, was very gentle and kind to her, petting her and singing her to sleep every night.  Her number two person, Mike, wasn’t as gentle as Sharon, but he had a good heart, looked after her, and made sure she had food in her bowl the mornings when Sharon was still sleeping.

On occasion, things would get wild and crazy in Kimmie’s home when a foolish mouse would sneak into it seeking food and shelter, and Kim would chase it and play with it.  But most of the time things were quiet.  However, Christmas was just around the corner so Kimmie was very excited.  You see, Kimmie loved Christmas as no other cat did, because it was around Christmas many years ago that her parents adopted her.

“What will Santa bring me this year?” she thought.  Kimmie usually received cat toys and edible treats for Christmas, in addition to a beautifully-decorated spruce tree that she would pounce on top of and slide down. Kimmie liked doing that even more than playing with a mouse.  Except for one thing, Kimmie had seen and done it all in her 15 years of life.  The thing she had not done was to go outside of her home without being in her pet carrier.  She never had the opportunity to play with a squirrel, rabbit or chipmunk.  But this Christmas she planned to change all of that.

The day before Christmas finally arrived and little Kimmie’s heart beated rapidly in anticipation of her journey outside of her home.  Kim had no way of knowing that a winter storm was headed her way.  She kept a careful eye on the doors when Sharon neared them.  She couldn’t miss even one opportunity because one chance is all she might get.  Finally, that fateful moment arrived when Sharon opened the side door that led directly outside.  Kimmie sprinted to the door as fast as she could.  She was so quick that she was just a blur to Sharon.  The next moment she was in the spacious outdoors with everything white with snow, especially the pine, fir and spruce trees.  She looked back at her snow-covered home and heard Sharon calling her: “Kimmie, Kimmie, come back.  It’s too cold for you out there.”  But little Kimmie had made up her mind…she wanted to explore the woods.  Besides, she could always go home later.  It was very cold outside; much colder than she thought it would be.  She found a trail behind her house and walked and walked for what what seemed like forever.  She could see for miles.  There were endless mountains and wilderness and not a person or a home around.  Kimmie’s little paws quickly became frozen; they were not used to walking on snow.  “It is so beautiful outside,” she thought. “But it sure is cold.”  She came across a rabbit and chased it.  The only thing she ever chased in her house were mice!  “A rabbit is much more fun than a mouse,” she thought.  Then a fox wandered by so she hid.  “It’s my lucky day,” she thought.  “That fox might have caught me and I don’t even have claws to defend myself.”

Meanwhile, back at home, Sharon was filled with grief and guilt and could not stop crying.  She blamed herself for Kimmie getting out.  She called Mike at work and he immediately came home so that they both could scout the woods around their house in an attempt to find Kimmie before the winter storm arrived or before a fox or cayote caught her.  They began by putting out dirty bedsheets on a outside clothesline so that Kimmie might catch their scent in the air and thereby find her way home.  Then they went tramping through the woods with Sharon calling, “Kimmie, Kimmie, come here little sweet pea.”  But Kimmie was nowhere to be found.

By this time Kim was feeling the effects of the relentless cold and began shivering and sneezing.  She hadn’t eaten or drunk anything since she left home early that morning.  Kimmie missed the warmth of her home, the abundant food, and her fluffy cat bed.  She was cold, tired, hungry and thirsty and just wanted to go home. Although she searched and sniffed the air, she just couldn’t find her home.  Meanwhile, Mike and Sharon were getting exhausted and were running out of places to look for her.  They could feel the air turning much colder.  Then it began to snow. They knew that it would be dark in a few hours and temperatures would go down to below zero and eventually to minus 30 degrees.

Then a fateful coincidence happened: Bear, a neighbor’s German Shepard, spotted Kimmie at a distance.  He knew who she was and she knew who he was.  Bear had never seen Kimmie outside of her house so he figured that she had run away and was lost.  He ran over to her and said, “Kimmie, you’re not an outside cat; what are you doing out here?”  Kimmie tearfully replied between sneezes that she ran away that morning to see the woods but now was lost.  Bear replied, “I’ll never understand you cats, you don’t make any sense.  Follow me you crazy cat; you’re far from home, but I know where you live and I’ll get you back there.”  Kimmie followed Bear.  She didn’t realize how far from her home she had traveled.  When her house came into sight she lept for joy.  Bear said, “just keep following me, mouse-eater, you’re not home yet!”  The snow was coming down really heavily now and temperatures were already down to zero.

When Kimmie and Bear reached Kim’s house, little Kimmie meowed loudly for Sharon or Mike to let inside. Bear just looked at Kimmie in amazement.  Then he said to her, “This is how you do it, fur ball: woof, woof, woof!”  Sharon heard Bear’s barking and came quickly to the door.  Sharon said, “what do you want Bear?  You know Garrison doesn’t like me to feed you!”  Then Sharon saw little frozen Kimmie as Kim meowed and sneezed on the top of her lungs.  She said, “Oh Kimmie, Bear found you and brought you home to me!”  Sharon then picked up Kimmie and hugged and kissed her, and said to Bear, “what a wonderful friend you are. You saved my Kimmie!  Come inside and warm yourself by the fire.”  But Bear just barked and went back onto the trail.  He had to get home before the winter snowstorm got any worse.

Kimmie was the happiest cat in the whole world and Sharon and Mike the happiest people.  It was Christmas eve night and the Colorado Blue Spruce Christmas tree hadn’t been decorated yet because Kim’s folks had spent all of their time searching for her.  Kimmie snuggled in Sharon’s lap and just purred and purred as Sharon petted her near the fireplace and talked ever so sweetly to her.  She had just eaten a can of Fancy Feast cat food and was nice and warm.  Only the day before she had been wondering what special treats and toys Santa would bring her for Christmas.  As she basked in love, affection, warmth and abundant good food, she thought to herself, “how naive I’e been.  I already have the best Christmas present a cat could ever have.  It’s a cold world out there away from family and friends.  Truly, there’s no place like home.”

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*The only things in this story that are not true are: 1)Kimmie did not run away or get lost; and 2)animals can’t speak human languages.  All of the names, places, characters and descriptions in the story are real.

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