Christmas Kitten

“Christmas Kitten,” Friend, Dec. 1987, 20

Christmas Kitten

It was almost Christmas, and Troy’s Pet Shop was decorated with fancy red bows for the holiday. A tiny, yellow ball of fur was curled up in a corner of the big front window. It was a kitten only eight weeks old.

The other kittens in the big front window were much prettier. The yellow kitten’s eyes were the same color as its fur, and it didn’t have a tail. Manx cats don’t have tails, but this kitten was not a Manx. It was supposed to have a tail. The kitten, however, didn’t seem to know that she was different from other cats.

“Look at that cute white kitten, Mommy,” said a little girl, pointing to the cat next to the yellow one. “I want that one for Christmas.”

“All right, dear,” said her mother.

The white kitten contentedly licked its paws.

“I want that black cat,” said a little boy soon after. His father picked up the handsome black cat and paid Mr. Troy for it.

The calico cat, most of the puppies, the goldfish, and the birds were all chosen for pets. Even the hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs were bought and carried out by their new owners—but not the little yellow kitten.

“Look at that funny-looking cat,” cried one little boy. “Where’s its tail?”

Mr. Troy answered, “She doesn’t have one, but she’s a very nice cat.”

“What good is a cat without a tail?” retorted the little boy. “I want that gray kitten, Daddy, the one with the fluffy tail.”

Later the yellow kitten heard a noise and looked up. Mr. Troy was talking to her: “If you aren’t sold in the next few days, I don’t know what I’ll do. I can’t keep feeding a cat that isn’t sellable. This is a business, you know.” He shook his head sadly and walked away.

The yellow kitten liked Mr. Troy. He fed her and played nice music with words like angels, peace, good will, jingle bells, joy, sleigh rides, and Christmas. The kitten didn’t know what the words meant, but the music made her feel happy.

After Mr. Troy locked the pet shop door and started to clean up for the night, he heard a whimper coming from the front of the store. A little black puppy was snuffling around forlornly in his cage. Before the shop owner could decide what to do, the little yellow kitten sat next to the puppy’s cage and started to purr. And when the puppy curled up next to her, the kitten licked him through the bars of the cage. The puppy was soon asleep.

Relieved, because he wanted all his animals to be happy, Mr. Troy went home.

Before the shop opened the next day, a whole new shipment of puppies and kittens was delivered. Mr. Troy told the delivery man, “Business has been so good that I don’t think I’ll have any trouble selling them all before Christmas.”

Mr. Troy put the new kittens into the front window with the little yellow kitten. They ran round and round, making pitiful sounds because they were afraid. The yellow kitten went to each one and licked it on the nose. Soon the new kittens felt safe and began giving themselves baths. They purred in time to the Christmas music.

“Well, isn’t that something!” exclaimed Mr. Troy, who had been watching them. “I’ve never seen anything like that.” Just then his attention went to a small puppy that was yelping frantically. A much larger puppy was growling at it.

“Here, now. None of that,” said Mr. Troy. He took the small puppy out of the pen. The large puppy gave a final growl and lay down.

But the small puppy couldn’t stop shaking and whimpering, despite all that Mr. Troy tried to do. “I’m a busy man,” the shop owner explained placatingly, “and we’re opening soon. I can’t stand here holding you all day. What am I going to do?”

He looked around and saw the tiny, yellow kitten. As he looked at the puppy, then back at the kitten, he thought, Well, it’s worth a try, and he put the puppy right next to the little yellow kitten. In no time at all the two were playing contentedly with each other. Mr. Troy shook his head in wonder. “I think that that cat has something. She certainly calms the animals down.”

That day was the busiest day of the holiday season for Mr. Troy. People were in and out all day. The small puppy went to a kind old man. In fact, most of the new kittens and puppies were sold.

It was a busy day for the little yellow kitten, too, because whenever an animal became nervous or excited—and many of them did with all the hustle and bustle in the store—Mr. Troy put it in the front window with the yellow kitten. The little kitten licked and purred and played gently with the upset animal until it relaxed.

Mr. Troy was very tired but very happy as he closed up for the night and went home.

The next day was almost as busy for Mr. Troy and the little yellow kitten. Just before closing, the shop owner went to the front window and looked at the yellow kitten. “Well, tonight is Christmas Eve. You haven’t been sold, and I don’t think you ever will be. But it doesn’t matter. You’re something special. Tail or no tail, pretty or not, you are an exceptional cat. You bring peace to the other animals just as Christmas brings peace. I think I’ll call you my Christmas kitten.”

Suddenly the door opened. A man and his son ran in. “Are we too late?” the boy asked anxiously. “We need a kitten for my sister for tomorrow.” Looking in the front window, he added, “Let’s take that one with no tail. It’s different. OK, Dad?”

“It’s OK with me, Son. You’re the one who’s giving the present.”

Mr. Troy shook his head. “I’m sorry, but that one is not for sale. You may choose any of the others, though. You see, I need that yellow cat. You might say that she works for me.” He patted the yellow kitten on the head adding, “And after all, I am running a business.”

Illustrated by Susan Meeks