Blossom the Cat and the Ducklings

Blossom the Cat and the DucklingsIn Blossom’s opinion, Skyler was selfish and a gossip and just displayed very bad manners.  However, each springtime Skyler made her nest in the Hatchers’ back yard and hatched the cutest ducklings, so Blossom was willing to overlook the mallard’s other unfortunate qualities.

This year there were four ducklings.  Blossom had heard from Riley, her best feline friend forever, who’d heard it first-paw from a hedgehog, that Skyler’s nest had originally held eight eggs.  But because Skyler was always off gossiping with her girlfriends instead of taking care of her babies, four of the little ones had gone off with another mother.

This spring morning with the scent of crabapple blooms swirling sweetly, Blossom spotted the four ducklings wandering about in the Hatchers’ back yard unattended.  She could hear Skyler’s loud rasping voice behind Mr. H’s toolshed where, no doubt, she was quacking another duck’s ear off.  “Remember that duck we grew up with?” Skyler blabbed.  “She climbed into the neighbor’s bird bath for a little swim.  Came back and her family was gone!”

“No!  Did a fox get them?” quacked the other mallard.

“Who knows?  Not even a feather left behind!” said Skyler.

Blossom could only shake her head, watching Skyler’s unsupervised youngsters flocking toward her.  One of the four ducklings was larger than the rest, his feathers a shade darker.

Flapping his stubby wings at Blossom, he peeped, “Can we call you Auntie Blossom?”

Blossom had never been an auntie to anyone, and because she felt honored to be asked, she said, “I guess so.”  This new responsibility made Blossom sit tall.  Auntie Blossom.  She nodded her head.  She’d make sure she took care of these cute little ducklings since their selfish babbling mom did not.

The ducklings followed Blossom all over the yard.  The bigger one seemed to lead the rest.  “Auntie Blossom, can we ride on your back?” he asked.

And because Blossom was a good auntie, she lay flat on the ground, like a Sphinx, while they all scrambled up onto her.  Then she trotted across the lawn, careful not to bounce too much because her small charges might fall off and a good auntie didn’t let things like that happen. The spring air was as uplifting as catnip as Blossom the Auntie showed her nieces and nephews a good time.

“Yay!” the ducklings cried.  “Run faster, Auntie Blossom!”

Shortly, Blossom saw Riley and Merle, the neighbor bulldog, out in their yards.  Telling the ducklings to sit tight, she headed down to meet her friends.

“That’s sure nice of you to give piggyback rides to ducks,” said Riley.

Merle scrunched up his furry forehead.  “Shouldn’t those ducklings be learning how to take care of themselves?”

Blossom batted her paw, flinging off Merle’s worries.  “I’ll teach them.  Auntie Blossom’s got it covered.”

The next morning when Blossom pranced out her door, she spotted the four ducklings waiting for her.  Skyler was nowhere to be seen but could definitely be heard, her blaring vocals making their way around the toolshed.  “And then I had to sit on the nest for what seemed forever while their dad was partying on another lake. Left me alone all night!  I really picked the wrong guy.”

Blossom frolicked over to the ducklings.  “Hi there, kiddos.  Do you want to ride on Auntie Blossom’s back again?”  She crouched down so they could hop on.  But they didn’t move.

The big one spoke up.  “We don’t want to ride on your back anymore,” he peeped.  “We want to swim in the pond.”

“You need to teach us how to swim, Auntie Blossom,” said one of the smaller ones.

Blossom felt a nervous flick in her ears.  “But Auntie Blossom doesn’t like the water, children,” she said.

“But it’s your job,” said the big one.  “Now, get going.”  With that, the four waddled off toward the excess rain water that had pooled at a dip in the Hatchers’ yard.

Blossom could hear Skyler behind the toolshed.  “And then I hurt my back foraging for food.  It’s not enough I have to sit on a stinking nest all night, but to find food for four!  No five, I forgot to count me!  I miss the good old days, just you and me and the girls.  Such fun times.”  Skyler and her gossiping hen friend quacked like crazy.

The four ducklings settled at the edge of the pond, waiting for Blossom.  “You have to go in first Auntie Blossom and show us what to do.”

Blossom stared at the pond thinking how she’d enjoy this about as much as running through a sprinkler.  She first put one foot into the water, then whipped it back out and shook it.  But the four had inched closer, watching her so intently, she stuck it back in.  Next went her other foot, and another, until all of her legs were knee deep in the pond.  For the beautiful warm day it was, the water felt like it was loaded with ice cubes.  She turned to the brood.  “Come along now.  Follow Auntie Blossom.”

They plunked in one by one, splashing, swimming circles, their little orange legs a blur beneath their fuzzy bodies.  Well, poodle poop, thought Blossom.  She got her toes wet for nothing.  The ducklings already knew how to swim.  Blossom waded to the water’s edge and galloped out.  “Ok, enough swimming for today.  Auntie has to go back in the house now.”  She was feeling all shivery from the pond water.

“But we’re not done swimming,” said the big one.

“You have to stay here and watch us so we don’t drown,” said another.

“Why don’t you have a big built-in swimming pool?” one whined.

After what seemed like hours of duck-sitting, Blossom tore loose from the bunch and practically raced to the fence where Riley and Merle were watching her.  “Those ducklings are so demanding.  Do this, do that.  And their no-good mother yacks more than a magpie.”

“You need to put your paw down,” said Riley.  “If you know what I mean.”

Merle did a little hop.  “If you don’t, they’ll waddle all over you.”

Sheba, the glamour kitten that lived on the other side of Riley, had come out of her house and poked a nose through her picket fence.  “Where did all those ducklings come from?  I want ducklings in my yard!” she pouted.

Blossom headed back to her house, shaking her head again, this time over what little Sheba knew about ducklings.  Skyler had finally returned.  But just as Blossom was almost to the patio, Skyler propelled herself across the yard like a rotary mower.

“Excuse me!  Excuse me!”  Planting herself in front of Blossom, blocking her path to the back steps, Skyler quacked, “Would you mind watching my kids for a bit? My best friend has asked me to waddle over to the arboretum for a dip in the creek.  I could really use a night out. Thanks, bye!”

Blossom could only blink.  The four babies skedaddled to the patio, surrounding her.  But Blossom was ready this time.  She’d let them know she’d just observe them from the grass while they swam in the pond.

They all started quacking at once, interrupting each other, flapping their wings, knocking each other out of the way, talking over each other.

“We’re hungry, Auntie Blossom.  We need greens!  Or catch us some bugs.”

“What?”  How was she going to catch bugs?  She didn’t have a beak.

“My back itches.  I think I have lice.  Get them out, Auntie Blossom.”

Lice!  Blossom thought of the four of them riding on her back, her back that all of a sudden felt like it needed scratching.

“Can we come in your house?” they quacked.

“We want to sleep in your sleeping basket.”

“Do you have video games?”

“We want to try Froot Loops.”

“WE NEED CELL PHONES!” they all cried.

Blossom’s ears were ringing.  No wonder Skyler flew the coop.  Her kids were as annoying as mosquitos at bedtime.  Actually they were as annoying as Skyler was.

The springtime sky grew dark but Skyler did not return.  Blossom wondered what would happen when her own family realized she was not in the house.  But being a good auntie, she told her little responsibilities that she’d sit on Skyler’s nest with them until their mother came back from her night out.  Blossom settled into the sticks and twigs and the ducklings snuggled up close to her, rubbing their fuzzy little lice-infested bodies against hers.

Suddenly the big one popped up.  “Doesn’t your family wonder where you are?  Why don’t you go in your house and take us with you?”

Blossom tried not to scowl but she didn’t want the ducklings in her house, so she tried blowing off his suggestion.  “That’s not necessary.”

He shoved his little fuzzy face into hers.  “Yes it is.  Do you have Netflix?”

That was the paw that broke the cat’s back.  Blossom stood up, sending the other ducklings rolling.  She shook herself off and said, “You guys are as selfish as your mom!  My family doesn’t have Netflix or video games or cell phones.  We’re not rich!”

Blossom huffed.  Here she was outside in the dark and the cold, doing someone else’s job, with ducklings she no longer even liked and who were now reminding her that her family didn’t have the bucks and bling that, say, Sheba had.  And in the cold, dark, damp corner of the yard, it was as if fireworks had lit the sky.  Blossom felt her mug turn into a sly smile. “Children, Auntie Blossom knows someone who has an outdoor heated swimming pool.”

Minutes later, Blossom stood at the back door of her house, meowed twice, then waited patiently for her family to let her in.  With only the light of the crescent moon above, she watched as the four ducklings hopped through the holes of the chain link fence and waddled across Riley’s yard to get to Sheba’s mini mansion.  Now Sheba could try her paw at duck-sitting.  He he he!

Blossom the Cat Takes Care of Her Teeth

Blossom the Cat Takes Care of her TeethAs Blossom trotted out of her house and headed down to where the fences came together, she could tell Riley, her best feline friend forever, was troubled.  His head hung a bit too low.  And he was hunched into a ball as if he was cold, which was not possible on a day with brilliant sunshine, skies as blue as pool water and not enough breeze to move a leaf.

“What’s up, Riley?” meowed Blossom, just as Merle, the neighbor bulldog, joined them.  “Did you get caught peeing on the houseplants again?”

Riley’s head sunk even lower.  “I have to visit Dr. Moss and have my teeth cleaned.”  He lifted his head, eyes big as buttons.  “I didn’t get to eat this morning and I heard them say I’ll have to be put to sleep.  And I’ll be there all day long.  I’ll miss Animal Planet’s Animal Cops.”  Riley’s eyes filled with sorrow.  “That’s my favorite show.”

“Oh, teeth cleaning,” Blossom batted her paw, trying to make Riley feel better.  “I hear teeth cleaning is no big deal.”  Blossom had heard no such thing and, furthermore, she had to try hard not to gulp just thinking about it.  She was certain Dr. Moss would do more than pry open Riley’s mouth and scrub down his teeth with a toothbrush.  That only took a half hour at most.  But to be gone all day . . .  Blossom was sure some type of cat torture was involved.  Merle gave her a sideways glance that said he was thinking the same.

Blossom watched as Riley’s family car backed out of the driveway and headed down Tulip Drive.  Riley was gone the rest of the day and evening.  The next morning Blossom kept peeking out the kitchen window, wondering why her friend was not out.  Her stomach started knotting up when she saw Riley scamper across his lawn.  Blossom scratched at the door until Willow let her out, then she dashed down to meet him.  Merle had run to the fence as well.

Blossom wasn’t sure what to expect.  Maybe Riley’s mouth would be all stitched up like a Frankenstein monster or perhaps his head might have swelled to the size of a beach ball.  But nothing looked out of place, he looked exactly like Riley.  She stood expectantly, waiting to hear Riley spin nightmares about needles and tweezers and things that made grinding noises.

But Riley’s eyes sparkled like diamonds.  “That teeth cleaning was the best thing that ever happened to me!”  He opened his mug wide so he could model his clean teeth.

Blossom felt just a whisker of a letdown, her nose bent just a bit out of joint.  She had been all prepared to hear about pain and suffering.

“Whoa!” Merle did a little hop.  “You look the same as you did yesterday.  No, wait.  I think you look better.”

“What did they do?” asked Blossom.

“First, they petted me and said nice things and then they put me to sleep and I never even knew it, I was out just like that, if you know what I mean, and then they cleaned my gums,” Riley was running off like a mouse dunked in Red Bull.  “And then they polished my teeth so now if I run my tongue over them they feel clean as new marbles.”  Here he stopped to run his tongue over his teeth to demonstrate.  “And, you guys!  The best part is my family says my breathe smells much better.  Do you want me to breathe on you?”  Riley tried rounding his mug into an O so he could blow breath at them, then settled back to grinning.

Blossom thought if he grinned any wider, his smile would meet in the back of his head.  One would think he’d just won Feline Best in Show.

“And now,” Riley stuck out his chin.  “I have good oral hygiene.”

Blossom tried running a tongue over her own teeth but this didn’t make her feel all beaming and bubbly.  Not one bit.  Instead she had to try flicking her ears to ward off the pesky feelers of envy that were rippling through her.  It wasn’t fair.  Blossom wanted good oral hygiene too.  “So why did Dr. Moss have to clean your teeth?” she grumped.  “Don’t you get your teeth brushed at home?”

“Sometimes,” Riley said.

“How come Dr. Moss never wanted to clean my teeth?”  Blossom hated to sound whiny in front of her friends but Riley was feeling way too superb after a visit to the vet and she’d never, ever had that feeling.

“We can’t all have teeth as perfect as yours,” Riley’s tone had a slight sass to it.  “I have to go in now. My family DVR’d Animal Cops because they know how much I love to watch it.  Ciao!”

Blossom and Merle watched Riley practically prance back to his house.

“Wow.  He even makes me want to get my teeth cleaned,” said Merle.  “But us dogs are lucky.  Our teeth get clean from chew sticks.  Which,” he waggled his head.  “I just got a new one from Petco.”  Off he trotted.

Blossom returned to the house.  She sat in the kitchen, huffing and puffing as Mrs. H took a casserole from the oven.  Willow was setting the table.  Mr. H was already seated.  Blossom pondered how she could make her totally absorbed family realize she should get a teeth cleaning as well.

“I made brownies today, Dad,” said Willow.  Mr. H high fived her.

“Not to change the subject, but I hear Riley got his teeth cleaned,” said Mrs. H, shutting the oven door and turning wide eyes to Mr. H.  “$400 to clean a cat’s teeth.  Can you believe it?”

Blossom shifted her weight, but no one noticed.  Well, wasn’t she worth $400?  Riley apparently was.

“You can buy a lot of toothpaste for $400,” said Mr. H.

“Cheapskate,” Blossom meowed.  “If you loved me, you’d spend $400.”

The Hatchers looked down at Blossom.

“I think I do a pretty good job of brushing your teeth, Blossom,” said Willow.  “Besides, Dr. Moss has never said Blossom needed her teeth cleaned, has he?”

Mrs. H set the casserole on the table, shaking her head.  “No, thank goodness for that!  Blossom is due for a checkup though, I can ask about it.”

Blossom couldn’t remember a time when she’d looked forward to a checkup.  Now she just had to convince her family her teeth needed cleaning.  And she had several schemes that could possibly work.

She put her first plan into action when Mrs. H filled her bowl with Meow Mix.  Blossom gobbled up a mouthful, more than was polite.  Then she let most of it fall from her mouth, like she had no teeth at all.  She watched the pieces bounce all over the floor.

“Blossom has certainly become a messy eater,” Mrs. H said, while scooping up the pieces and tossing them back into her bowl.

Blossom’s second scheme involved whining and pawing at her mouth.  “I’m in pain,” she cried to Willow.  “Call Dr. Moss now.  By morning, I may no longer be with you.”

“What’s the matter,” said Willow.  “Were you eating garbage from under the fridge again?”

While Willow attempted to look into Blossom’s mouth, Blossom meowed, “Let me get my teeth cleaned and I’ll stay all day recovering at the vet’s.  Really, I don’t mind.”

That night the Hatchers plunked down on the couch to watch some outer space movie they’d rented.  Blossom made sure she caused a scene by laying on the floor, paws on her mouth, and howling.  “Stop watching that Martian movie and pay attention to me!”  She tried to make her eyeballs roll back into her head the way Willow sometimes did.  Only her eye rolling and loud howling plan backfired when there was a sudden loud explosion in one of the movie scenes that made her shoot right off the floor and scramble under the couch.  When she slunk back out and put her interruption skills to work a second time, Mrs. H scooped her up and tossed her onto the basement steps, closing the door firmly behind her.

Blossom sat on the step, tail thumping.  Her family was treating her as if she had very bad manners.  What was so awful about longing for a professional teeth cleaning to put an extra spring in her step and a trot in her toes?  And so what if it was expensive, couldn’t Mrs. H give up shoe buying for a few months?  The woman’s shoes took up more space than two rabbit families sharing a hutch.

Mrs. H finally scheduled Blossom’s annual checkup but didn’t mention Blossom’s teeth.  The morning of the appointment with Dr. Moss, Willow got Blossom in a headlock and brushed her teeth so long Blossom had to yowl in between breaths.  “You’re turning my sharp teeth to nubs, Willow!”

“Hold still, Blossom,” Willow held her tighter.  “I want your teeth to be perfect for Dr. Moss.”

Finally Blossom found her chance and tore away.  She flew from the room and under a bed.  Tail whipping back and forth, Blossom considered her unfortunate situation.  She didn’t want her teeth to be perfect.  She wanted Dr. Moss to say, “These teeth are worse than Riley’s.  I must clean them immediately or else.”   He’d never say that if they were the sparkling mirrors Willow had just scrubbed them into.

No, Blossom fretted.  Her teeth needed to be dirty with brown things stuck between them. They needed to look so disgusting, Dr. Moss would look in her mouth and puke on the spot.  Heaven help me, she thought.  And it was as if an angel had popped from the sky.  Blossom’s eyes felt lit as sparklers.  Meow-alujah!  She had a plan.

Blossom crept into the empty kitchen and slyly eyed Willow’s pan of brownies sitting on the counter.  Brownies were chewy and gooey and really brown.  Leaping to the counter, Blossom crunched back the sheet of foil covering them and gobbled up a corner of brownie.  A corner that was loaded with extra frosting.  She sat back, chewing and thinking how she enjoyed chocolate about as much as she enjoyed sitting out in a heavy rainfall.  The icing had a nice enough consistency, almost like butter.  But the brownie itself was dense and chocolaty and rolled around in her mug like sweetened dog poop. However, the concoction felt good and dirty.  She’d hold it in her mouth as long as possible to let the brownness stain all her teeth.   Singing salamanders!  What a cat had to endure in order to have good oral hygiene!

Mrs. H and Willow accompanied Blossom to her checkup.  On the examining table, Dr. Moss took Blossom’s temperature and checked her heart with his icy cold stethoscope.  He lifted each paw and gave a thumbs-up to her toenails.   He went on to inspect her fur and skin and poked a light into each ear, her nose and finally her mouth.

Dr. Moss pulled back for a moment.  “It looks like Blossom’s been eating chocolate,” he said.

“What?” Willow moved closer.  “I brushed her teeth really well this morning.”

Holding Blossom’s jaw with one hand, Dr. Moss took a piece of gauze with the other and gently rubbed at the chocolate on Blossom’s teeth.  “There, that’s better.”  He turned his little flashlight all around in her mouth, then put it aside.  “Well, it looks like you’ve done a very good job, Willow.  Blossom’s teeth look exceptional.”

“No they don’t, you liar,” Blossom meowed.  “They’re dirty and all full of brown things.”

Dr. Moss turned to Willow and Mrs. H.  “Blossom has the best oral hygiene I’ve ever seen in a cat.”

“Really!” Mrs. H said, like she couldn’t believe it.

What?  Blossom couldn’t believe it either so she meowed, “Repeat what you just said, Dr. Moss.”

“You’re doing an excellent job of brushing Blossom’s teeth,” Dr. Moss said to Willow.  “I see absolutely no sign of decay or disease.  They’re perfect.  Except for the chocolate.”

Blossom blinked her eyes.  She had good oral hygiene, Dr. Moss just said so, she’d heard it with her own ears.  She ran her tongue over her perfect teeth.  Her teeth were as good as Riley’s.  Even better.  And the Hatchers didn’t have to go into debt in order for her to have them.  Blossom couldn’t wait to tell her friends what Dr. Moss had said.  Good oral hygiene.  She closed her eyes tight and opened her mouth as wide as a tiger so all in the room could get a good view of her perfect chompers.