All morning, Zacq, the Uttridge’s big silver gray cat, chased mice in the barn, leaves and chipmunks on the front lawn. He visited the horses out in the field and chased a few butterflies as well.
After that, he played tag with the younger Uttridge kids, Brett, who was ten, and Bree, nine. He played hide and seek with them and their friends.
“Zacq is a smart cat!” cried Kerri Thomson. “He’s a lot of fun to play with!”
“He found me every time!” said Jesse, who was Kerri’s older brother. He flopped down onto the grass and sprawled out. “What shall we play next?”
“Uht-oh!” Bree watched Zacq stretch and then start walking toward the house. “Looks like Zacq is all done playing.”
“Yup,” said Brett. “He’s going to go find a place to nap now. I guess we tired him out!”
Brett and Bree were right. Zacq had had enough chasing the kids around the yard and searching them out of their hiding places. Now he wanted to find a comfy spot to snooze in. Kittona, his little white sister, meowed at him from the BBQ grill.
Silly Kittona! What an odd place to nap! He didn’t want to sleep there. He wanted someplace cozier to go. Someplace as comfy as a pillow in Bree’s bedroom or the new sofa and chair in the living room. Or maybe—
The porch swing!
And look! There was Mom sitting in it. A cozy lap to make it perfect! Mom liked to sit in the swing with cats or puppies on her lap. Every animal knows that laps are the coziest places in the world! Zacq hurried to go hop upon Mom’s lap, purring all the while.
“Oh, Zacq,” said Mom as he settled down for his nap. “Why didn’t you come sooner? I have to get back to laundry and things!” But she sat there, petting him for a few minutes, reluctant to disturb him right away.
Finally, with a regretful, “Sorry, Zacq!” she carefully moved him beside her and stood up. Zacq protested and eyed her with a resentful gold gaze.
Mom bent to scratch him between his ears, laughing at him. “Don’t give me that look! My break is over. Maybe later!” And picking up the laundry basket full of clean clothes, she started for the door.
Not happy with that answer, Zacq hopped off the swing and ran after her. Leaping up, he swatted her legs with his big paws. One! Two! Three times!
With the basket balanced under one arm, Mom pushed the door open. “I shouldn’t even let you come in for cuffing me up like that, brat cat! You stay off my new couch and chair, hear me? Go downstairs and sleep on the old one!”
Zacq paid no attention to Mom. He headed straight for the living room.
“No, Zacq! Not in here!” Mom shut the doors to the living room before Zacq could squeeze by.
Well, okay. An old comfy couch was just as good as a new one. Zacq went downstairs to the family room in the basement.
But, look! The Rat Terrier pups, Nikkah and Nesleigh had already claimed that nice old couch! They woke up and watched him watching them.
Even though they didn’t seem to mind him being there, he minded them being there! Today, he didn’t want to share space with puppies, even friendly ones.
He looked around the room and saw his brother snoozing on the old wooden rocking chair. Zacq knew Daine wouldn’t mind him sharing the chair, so up he jumped and made himself comfy cozy there.
After a while, Daine woke up hungry. He stood and stretched which made Zacq fall off the chair. Daine jumped down and walked over to the food and water dishes. They were empty. Nikkah and Nesleigh had munched all the food in their own bowl and in the cats’ bowl. Daine turned and went upstairs to see if he could find a snack somewhere up there.
Zacq followed. Napping alone on the rocking chair was not comfy to him today!
Hmmmmmmm. There must be some place he could flop and take a nap!
He washed his face, his left ear and one paw. Blinked a couple of times, and then washed his right paw and his other ear.
His eyes suddenly narrowed as he noticed a possibility in the kitchen.
The refrigerator—the highest perch of all. Up and away from everyone! That was it!
Zacq coiled his muscles for a mighty leap.
But Daine leaped faster than Zacq. The big black cat draped himself across the top of the refrigerator, his tail hanging down the side of it. He blinked his green eyes at Zacq and flicked his tail. He was not going to share this perch this time!
Zacq was annoyed. But then a delicious aroma tapped his nose. Zacq sniffed the air.
Oo-ho, who could resist the smell of fresh bread? Not Zacq, even though he was a cat! He twirled around to face the counter, hunched up and jumped. Yes, this would be a great place! High enough up and smelling grand!
But—once again, there was someone up there before him.
His father, Elijah, a majestic half Himalayan, opened his silver blue eyes to see who had invaded his space. He was all comfy upon the white breadbox from which that delicious smell came. After seeing that it was Zacq there on the counter, Elijah simply shut his eyes and dreamed of sharing Mom’s tasty tuna sandwiches with Brett and Bree.
For a moment, Zacq just stood sniffing his father’s furry head and the breadbox. He pawed at the breadbox hoping he could open it. But Mom had made sure it was securely shut.
Zacq stopped trying to raid the breadbox, and decided to sleep on it with his father.
Elijah often snoozed with the puppies, and had babysat Zacq and all his brothers and sisters when they were young kittens. That let their mom, Halley, take a break from caring for her five babies. Elijah was probably the best dad cat in the world!
Zacq climbed upon the bread box, half draping himself upon his dad, while his hind legs hung off to one side. Elijah flicked an ear and moved a little so Zacq could settle in better, and so he could wash Zacq’s face. Zacq washed his father’s ears in return. Then they snuggled up for a good long snooze.
“ZACQ! ELIJAH! Get OFF the breadbox!” hollered Glenn, the oldest Uttridge boy. He had just put shoes on three horses who hadn’t wanted new shoes, so he wasn’t in a good mood. Plus, he did not at all think cats belonged on the breadbox. “Get off there now!”
His thundering voice startled all three cats awake. Zacq scrambled up so fast he fell off the breadbox onto the counter and plopped to the floor. He shook himself, feeling a little foolish and a good deal resentful.
Elijah got off with lordly grace—as if it’d been his own idea to leave his perch just then. He dropped to the floor beside Zacq and scratched behind his ear. Groomed the fur at his ribs. Then he went over to his food bowl and ate as if that was what he’d intended to do all the time.
Daine just closed his eyes again. Glenn never noticed him up top of the refrigerator!
Zacq shot his brother up a narrow glance, then stalking out of the kitchen, he trotted upstairs to Mom’s bedroom. There on Mom’s bed awaited the fluffy mountain of laundry she’d just brought in.
Zacq hopped up.
Purrrrrrr! Purrrrrrr! Zacq kneaded his paws on a soft towel, his eyes half closed. Curling up on the top of the mountain, he closed his eyes . . . started dreaming his own dream of tasty tuna sandwiches.
“Oh, no, Zacq! Not my clean clothes! Come on! Outta here!” Mom scooped him up and dumped him outside of her bedroom door and closed it.
Well, now where could he go?
Down the hallway, music played in Glynn’s room. Glynn, who was twelve, didn’t mind cats or pups sleeping on her bed! Nor did she mind cats snoozing on her computer tower or upon her dresser, either. They could sleep anywhere they liked—except upon her favorite black jeans!
So, down to Glynn’s room trotted Zacq.
Glynn was deep into Chapter Six of Casey Spars Goes To Mars when Zacq wandered in. Glynn liked to write stories; sometimes more than she liked to do anything else—even ride her Quarter horse, Squeaky! Good ideas couldn’t be put off. Plus, she’d promised Brett and Bree she’d have a new chapter to read to them at bedtime. They’d never let her forget it if she broke her promise to them!
Zacq hopped upon the desk and walked across her keyboard, making odd characters flicker onto the computer screen. Then he flopped across her open notebook. Purrrrrrr! Such a wonderfully thick notebook!
“Zacq! Look what you did!” Glynn deleted the long row of random letters he’d added to her story. “Oh, well, at least you didn’t delete everything like the last time!” She pulled her notebook out from under him. “Here! I’m sorry—I need this today!”
Zacq didn’t care about that. He just stood and padded across to its new resting place and sprawled across it again.
“Oh!” cried Glynn impatiently. “Zacq!”
Zacq butted her hand with his head. Then, he got up to slip down upon her lap. Or, at least that’s what he intended to do. But Sir Harvey Alistair, Glynn’s favorite cat had already claimed that spot for himself. He wasn’t about to give it up for Zacq!
But favorite though he might be, Glynn wasn’t about to put up with a quarrel upon her person. Especially since cats’ claws are sharp, and she was wearing shorts. Without a word, she dumped both felines onto the floor and scooted her chair deeper under her keyboard shelf.
Sir Harvey, after trying without success to climb back onto her lap, finally hopped upon her bed, and made himself comfortable at the foot of it. Zacq scratched his ear with his left hind paw. Should he take over the pillows or try the dresser?
Deciding he might like the dresser top, he poised to leap. But a sharp voice, just like Mom’s hollered, “Don’t you even think it! Brat cat!”
Zacq cringed, looking around to see where Mom was. Glynn laughed. “Gotcha again, didn’t he, Zacq!”
From the tall birdcage in one corner of the room, Cedric, Glynn’s green and yellow parakeet, taunted him some more. “Good kitty, kitty!” he said in Glynn’s voice. Then, “Here, kitty!’ in Bree’s voice. “Come Zacq! Come to Bree!” Yes, Cedric could sound like all of the children, and like Mom and Dad, too. “Get out of my chair, Zacq! Go outside!”
Zacq knew he wasn’t supposed to eat Cedric, but it was fun to think about it sometimes.
Just then Zacq saw his perfect spot to nap. Maybe he couldn’t eat Cedric, but he could nap upon the tall, flat top bird cage.
Just as he started to trot over to the cage, a striped streak leaped from the bed right over his head and landed upon that flat topped bird cage.
Cedric chattered his disapproval at this intrusion.
Zacq stared up at Sir Harvey who purred smugly. Washing his paws and the fluffy fur of his chest, Sir Harvey got ready for a good long rest in his new napping spot.
“Crazy cats!” chuckled Glynn, shaking her head at them. “What was wrong with the bed, Harvey? I think you’re all brat cats!”
“Brat cats! Crazy cats!” echoed Cedric. “Crazy puppy! Crazy kids! Pretty bird! Pretty girl! Get back to work!”
Sir Harvey batted the side of the cage, but didn’t really try to hurt Cedric. Cedric was skillful at pecking toes if left to dangle within his reach which did not feel very good at all!
Harvey peered down at Zacq with a challenge in his yellow eyes. Zacq glared back. For a second he thought about knocking the cage over. Sir Harvey Alistair wouldn’t have a tall place from which to stare disdainfully down upon the world then! He’d be sorry he didn’t stay on the bed! Who did he think he was, anyway!
Cedric, sensing the mood between the cats, imitated a ferocious cat fight until Glynn tossed a crumpled wad of paper at his cage.
“Knock it off, chatterbox! Can’t concentrate with all this racket! Stop it now!”
The silly bird laughed tauntingly at her the way her brothers would, and then made whining sounds like puppies begging for a treat. Finally, he settled down, softly chirping a lullaby. Sir Harvey purred and closed his eyes. In a second, he was dreaming of fat sausages that Brett dangled before his hungry eyes . . . Purrrfect! But, for Zacq, well . . . it looked as though Glynn’s room wasn’t the best place after all.
All this hunting for a perfect spot made Zacq crave a snack. He hurried back downstairs and out to the kitchen. Luckily, Daine and Elijah had left some tasty morsels for him to snack on.
After that, he was really thirsty, so he drank some water from the big white bowl all of the Uttridge’s pets drank from. He drank and drank until it was empty. Now Zacq was even more ready for a nap than before!
Well . . . hmmmm.
Zacq sniffed the bowl. He sniffed all around its outsides. Then he sniffed all around its insides.
He climbed right into the bowl!
Wrapping his whole body around the inside of that bowl, he settled down into it, tucking his nose under his tail.
Pretty soon, he was enjoying sweet dreams of chasing squirrels in the yard, nibbling tuna sandwiches and drinking milk with Brett and Bree, and lazing in the porch swing on Mom’s lap.
Purrrrrr, purrrrr, purrrrrr . . .