The War Between the Cats

by Jean Goldstrom © 2002

Once upon a time, in the usually quiet community of cats, a great disagreement arose. The issue was whether black cats were, or were not, associated with bringing bad luck. This issue was centuries old. Those who believed one way thought the issue had been settled, in their favor, centuries ago. Those who believed the other way thought the same. Disagreement grew and grew, beyond simple mewing, meowing, snarling, hissing and lashing of tails. It grew so great that the cats found themselves divided into two groups. One was called the CatFederacy. The other was called the Mewnion. An outstanding statescat led each group. Purrsident Abe LinKat headed the Mewnion cats, and Purrsident Flufferson Davis led the Catfederates.

Cats of all breeds and colors from all regions found themselves taking sides. Each group felt it must be the one to have its beliefs prevail. Soon young toms were gathering in groups, learning to march together, pounce together and bite and claw together. Each group knew the rightness of their beliefs and the strength of their toms would bring victory. One group of cat warriors called themselves the YanKats; the others were known as the Tommy Rebs. As the toms marched off to battle, they sang brave songs: "When Tommy Comes Marching Home," "We're Napping Tonight On The Old Nap Grounds;" and "Eating Goober Catnip." Some of the songs were specific to one group or another. The YanKats loved to sing, "Clawing Through Georgia." The Tommy Rebs favored a battle song called "Catsie," which started out, "I wish I was in the land of Cat, an' all the cat beds made of satin...."

Huge groups of YanKats and Tommy Rebs gathered at a small town called Kittysburg. They planned to battle until one side or the other could claim victory. Great war leaders headed each group. There was General Mewlysses S. Grant of the YanKats and General R. E. Lee of the CatFederates, whose toms loved him so much they called him Meowster Robert. But those two great statescats who were the leaders of the two factions hoped to avoid this battle and the sorrow it would bring. They quickly hurried to the scene of the coming conflict. Leaving their staffcats behind, the two wise old gentlecats met, just the two of them.

"My old friend," said Purrsident Abe, licking a paw thoughtfully. "It's good to see you again, but I regret these dangerous conditions."

"I am glad to see you, too," said Purrsident Flufferson as he scratched an ear, reflectively. "And we must deal with these conditions. Otherwise, many of our fine young toms will be hurt. Even killed."

Purrsident LinKat nodded solemnly. "I've been thinking that fourscore and seven years ago, our forefelines brought forth on this continent a nation of kittens who grew up to be united. In that is our strength."

Purrsident Flufferson also nodded, wrapping his tail around his front paws. "That strength is more important than any one idea," he meowed. "Here's my suggestion."

"What is it, old friend?"

"Let us resolve this conflict."

"Yes, but how?"

"Let us disagree. Each holds the ideas he holds, and makes sure all other cats have the same freedom."

"You are right. By agreeing to disagree, we give all felines the freedom of their own beliefs as long as those beliefs do not harm others."

The two great statescats bumped heads in solemn agreement. Each went back to his own staffcats and told them what had been decided. All were delighted that the coming conflict, with its pain and suffering, could be avoided.

Each leader passed the word to all the young toms, both the YanKats and the Tommy Rebs. Many were disappointed that there would be no fight. But others pointed out that lady cats often showed a strong preference for toms who did not have torn ears, scratched-out eyes, and large chunks of their fur missing.

As a result, there was much agreement among the toms. All marched toward their homes. As they strode along, instead of singing the battle songs that had at one time divided them, they joined their voices in a marching song that was a favorite of all: "Meow meow meow meow; meow meow meow meow; meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow..."

(Note: Further details on these historical events can be found in the works of the important feline historian, Bruce Catton.)

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