A cat tale from Old Japan
Some months ago, we brought you the story “The Vampire Cat of Nabéshima” from a book called Tales of Old Japan. Today, we return to that text for another cat story, one of a family feline who faithfully protected a young lady from a horrible fate. WARNING: This is not a cute-and-cuddly type of kitty story!
A long time ago, there was a cat from Osaka who seemed to have a strange attraction to the daughter of the family that had reared him from when he was a kitten. This cat constantly followed the girl, who was about sixteen years old, so that he was always at her side, day and night. This bothered the girl’s father immensely. He thought that the cat must have fallen in love with the girl and would certainly cast a spell on her. The only remedy for this, the father thought, was to kill the cat.
Now the cat, of course, was no fool. Having overheard the father planning his execution, he went to the man’s bed that night and whispered the truth in his ear.
“I am not in love with your daughter,” the cat said, in a human voice that the man would understand in his sleep. “I am protecting her from a nasty old rat that is in love with her and wishes to carry her off. I cannot leave her even for a moment, or else he would take her. This rat is far too big and powerful for me to defeat on my own, but there is a very famous cat named Buchi who lives with Mr. Thus-and-Such not far from here. You should borrow Buchi, and together he and I will dispatch the old rat.”
The next morning, the father was excited to tell everyone about the extraordinary dream he’d had. That very day, he set off for Mr. Thus-and-Such’s house to ask if he could borrow Buchi the famous cat. Mr. Thus-and-Such readily agreed to loan out his cat for a short while, and so the father returned home toting Buchi.
That night, the two cats were set to watch for the rat. Not long into the night, the household heard a dreadful lot of growling, snarling, and scuffling. They all ran toward the noise, arriving to find the two cats locked in stalemate with the largest rat any of them had ever seen. The cats had caught hold of the rat, but he had caught hold of them, too, so that none of them could move without giving advantage to their adversary. All three combatants panted for breath and waited to regain their strength for another round of battle. Before that could happen, though, the father cut the throat of the rat, thus putting an end to the threat.
Both the cats had been horribly injured in the fight. The family tended to them, cleaning their wounds and giving them the best medicine, but the cats only became weaker and weaker and finally died. The enormous rat was thrown into the river, while the honorable cats were buried in a nearby temple, and the family’s descendants celebrated their faithful cat for generations to come.
The end (though we do wonder what Mr. Thus-and-Such thought about the loss of his famous cat).
This story has been adapted and slightly abridged. You can find the original in Tales of Old Japan at Project Gutenberg. There are also many versions available on Amazon in print and for Kindle.