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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2200380
Why dogs hate cats.
Cat and Dog

Way back, in the swirling mists of time, the First Dog had nothing against the First Cat. Indeed, they were the best of friends. Since the Dog hunted in the daytime, while the Cat hunted at night, they were not competitors and would often meet in the dawn or evening twilight to chat about their lives and interests.

In those days, the Dog had retractable claws and the Cat was the larger animal. Both respected the other’s attributes and knew that there was nothing to be gained by fighting each other. They were happy in themselves and their friendship grew strong as a result.

One night, the Cat captured a rat. As cats do even today, the Cat did not kill the rat immediately but played with it, picking it up, dropping it, and then catching it again when it tried to run away. This went on until the rat managed to avoid the Cat’s jaws and disappear down a nearby hole in the ground.

The Cat peered into the hole. “Do not think you can escape me down there, Rat. I can dig you out whenever I want.”

The voice of the rat came squeaking up from the hole. “You would not need to dig if only you had the sharp claws of the Dog.”

“If I had claws like that, I would not be able to dig,” replied the Cat.

“I would not be in this hole if you had the Dog’s claws,” countered the rat. “You would have caught me easily with those since it is easier to strike with paws than with the mouth.”

The Cat thought about this. The rat had a point, it was true.

“But how would I get the claws off the Dog?” he asked. “He is very attached to them.”

“You should wait until he is asleep and then clip them with your fierce teeth.”

The Cat fell silent. Dog was his friend but it would be good to catch things with claws as well as teeth. He thought long and hard about the rat’s suggestion. With size and teeth and claws, he would be the king of predators and the Dog, without his claws, would be no danger to him. There might be something in this idea.

While the Cat was pondering in this way, the rat slipped out of the hole and vanished into the long grass. He became the great bard rat of his time, recounting many times to his children and grandchildren his tale of the Escape from the Cat.

On his part, the Cat never noticed that the rat had evaded his clutches. He wandered off, still musing on the possibility of having retractable claws. The next day, he slept on it.

In the evening, the Cat woke up with the decision made. He went to his habitual meeting with the Dog and spent an hour in meaningless conversation with him. His eyes remained fixed on the claws that now held him spellbound, however.

As the night grew dark, the Dog yawned and curled up to go to sleep. The Cat faded silently into the dark but kept watch until the sound of snoring told him the time had come. He emerged out of hiding.

When it came to it, the deed was speedily done. It was the work of moments for the Cat’s sharp teeth to clip each nail and to push the resultant shard into his own paws. That night he became a rival to the panther, stalking the land with fierce and deadly claws, still with his feline size, speed and fearsome bite.

The next morning, a dreadful howl could be heard across the plains. Hearing the sound, the Cat knew immediately that the Dog had awoken to find his claws gone. The Cat knew that even his new claws would be insufficient to protect him from the fury of the Dog and he began to run. Not far behind, the Dog burst from cover and took up the Cat’s trail.

All that day the Dog ran, relentless in his determination to catch the Cat. And the Cat found that his stamina was no match for the Dog’s. He ran until his reserves of strength were spent and his body shrank as the weight was burned off him. Still the Dog followed, apparently ready to run the whole night if necessary. With his last spark of strength, the Cat leapt at a tree and used his claws to climb into its uppermost branches. Seconds later, the Dog arrived.

They were now at an impasse. The Dog knew that he could not climb the tree without his claws and he was already hungry, not having eaten all day. He would have to find food before he could return to the hunt for the Cat. Meanwhile, his foe sat in the tree and waited for the Dog to leave.

There was only one way for it to end. The Dog swore never to give up the chase and then left on a hunt for food. The Cat waited a while and then crept back to earth.

But the Cat never recovered his size and became wary of every shadow in his fear of the Dog. Never again was he capable of bringing down prey larger than himself and he came to depend entirely upon his claws for survival. Fittingly, rats and mice became his principal diet and he vented his anger on them in the same way that the Dog wished to avenge himself on the Cat.

The Dog, too, never forgot the wrong the Cat had done him and he told his puppies and grandpuppies that they were honour-bound to continue the feud. They learned well and few indeed are those who forget and become friends with a cat.

So that is why dogs hate cats and will always do so. They want their claws back. And I am prepared to bet that cats, in return, are not all that keen on dogs.

Word Count: 999
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