Kittehs! It has come to my attenshun that not evabuddy is aware that Ebenezer Scrooge had a cat. The haunting of his faithful feline, Figgy Pudding, was sadly cut out in teh editing process, pro’lly cuz it seems so unlikely that a kitteh would care to even notice teh errors of his ways or (as if!) become a betta, kinda, gentlea sort o’ kitteh. But luckily I am here to set teh record straight.
Here then, wif out further ado (and oh! so many apologies to Mr. Dickens), I give you –
Figgy Pudding and teh Ghost of Christmas Naptime –
Figgy Pudding was dead, to begin with. Dead asleep on the thin pillows of Scrooge’s bed, warm in furry slumber and cushioned by cozy dreams of clumsy mice, until, quite without warning, his snooze was rent assunder by the clatter of Scrooge racing in the bed chamber, slamming the door, locking it twice and stuttering “Huh! Huh! Hum-bug!” with his knees knocking in fright.
The shock sent Fig racing up the bed posts, screeching like a banshee, shredding the curtains as he went. He settled onto of the canopy and eyed Scrooge. What was the old man up to tonight, he wondered, watching his frail master tremble before the puny flames, muttering and jerking about at every creaking noise and fluttering shadow.
Oh, this should be good… Fig thought and he reached out to tug on the cord of the servant bell above the door. The cat rang it twice then quickly hid under a canopy bed ruffle.
At the sound of the unused bell ringing in the long empty house, Scrooge grabbed at his heart and gulped for air. Fig would have curled up to laugh himself back to sleep, had the Ghost not chosen that particular moment to slide through the bed chamber door, noisily dragging chains.
Figgy Pudding’s peaceful sanctuary was then further disturbed by excessive displays of moaning, rattling, gnashing of teeth, dropping of jaws, etcetera. Fig lost interest for a bit, having a sudden need to wash his rear end, but when he was finally looked down again, he saw Scrooge on his knees, pleading with the ghost, who didn’t seem inclined to negotiate.
‘You will be haunted,’ resumed the Ghost, ‘by Three Spirits,’
and as Scrooge groveled, the specter walked backwards towards the window that opened as he drew near. After dragging his last chain out into the misty fog, the Ghost poked his head back in, pointed up at the canopy and cried:
“You too, you Mangy No-Good Cat.”
Figgy only yawned. While Scrooge cowered in his bed, Fig scratched at fleas behind his ear and chewed on the mats between his toes, barely noticing the little man in a robe who shuffled his master out the window in search of Christmas Past, or something like that.
Now thoroughly annoyed by this nocturnal nonsense, Fig hopped on the floor to lodge a complaint in the form of a giant fur ball, when a sudden, stupendous, eye-stinging whiff of cat pee stopped him in his tracks. From behind him, the fireplace rumbled, sparks flew and the sounds of hisses and caterwauls shook the china cups on the mantel. Fig froze, arched and stiff as a cardboard Hallowe’en cat, as a herd of feline phantoms galloping out of the embers; hundreds of cats, some carrying human contraptions and accessories: hats, eyeglasses, parasols, fishing poles; others outfitted with entire and elaborate human costumes. They walked on two legs and cavorted in many darling and coquette poses. And just when he thought their confusing numbers would never end, through the chimney came the largest one of all, big as a lion but dressed as a school boy, and on his back, the wispy and disheveled figure of a Crazy Cat Lady.
The herd came to a halt in front of Figgy and the Lady dismounted, shifted her crooked hat in a different crocked direction and tried, unsuccessfully, to smooth her frizzy hair. She addressed her herd in a sweet sing-song that made the pack purr in unison, roll at her feet and rub even more cat hair onto her jacket.
“Okay, my Darlings, go play now. I have work to do with this one. Go on! Mommy will be back soon and we’ll have treats then. Go on! Scat”
The herd eyed Fig with murderous intent, but nonetheless evaporated into the fireplace, leaving a cloud of fur and dander that the Cat Lady gently waved away as she made herself comfortable in Scrooge’s chair.
“Come now, Precious Figgy,” she cooed, “hop in my lap so that we might consider your position on this earthly plane.”
The cats gone, Fig un-arched his back and pretended now to be completely disinterested, although he kept a wary eye on the fireplace, ready to flee if the horde returned.
“Nothing doing, Madame Mad Petticoats,” replied Fig, “I snuggle with no human, phantom or otherwise. Peeps gives me the creeps.”
“Now Figgster, that is a little hard. You don’t really mean that, do you?”
The Lady pulled a delightfully long string from her pocket and dangled it before him, but Fig turned his back.
“No thank you. I have better uses for my time.”
“Ah, but what better service is there than to be a soft and warm welcome after a long day of toil?” she pulled a herring out of her pocket and waved it under his nose before continuing, “and as you well know, a purr works magic to soften the hearts of mankind. It may have been just what Scrooge needed most of all.”
“Mankind? CATkind is my business, Madame! And the cat I serve, precisely, is me. I am not so blessed as your little minions to have someone to feed and coddle me. Take a look at my food bowl. There’s more grave than gravy there, as that old skinflint is too cheap to feed me. I fend for myself and I am better off for it.”
“But what of the mice?” she pulled a whimpering rodent from her pocket and swung it by the tail before him. “This house crawls with them. Surely you could do the old man the favor or clearing it of vermin in exchange for warm place to sleep.”
Figgy only turned his back again and wrapped his tail about him regally.
“Thank you, no. I am too full to eat them.”
“How now?” the Cat Lady laughed at the riddle. “how can you be both unfed yet too full?”
“Because everyday I go to the warm and cheery Cratchit kitchen where I beg for tidbits. Then I use Tiny Tim’s crutches as a scratching post and unravel Mrs. Cratchit’s knitting, put paw prints in the freshly turned butter and then steal the whole steak and kidney pie while Mr. Cratchit’s back is turned.”
Fig flicked his tail in her general direction and sauntered towards the bed.
“Now if you don’t mind, I have to get back to my nap. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
The Cat Lady’s countenance went quite dark with fury. She grabbed Fig by the scruff of his neck and held him nose to nose, so that there was no way he could ignore her hair now flying like Medusa or her eyes that burned red with anger.
“Listen, Wretched Flea-bag. You don’t have time to nap. You have reckoning to do. Hundreds of nap hours you have wasted, shunning a lonely old man. Hundreds of days you have abused the good nature of the Cratchits. What prize, exactly, do you think your Aloof Pride wins you in the afterlife?”
“I’ll take care of myself in the afterlife, as I have done so well here.”
The Cat Lady’s mouth curled into a smile so hideous that Figgy’s stomach dropped with dread.
“Ah, but there you are wrong, Sweetiekins. For you see, if you continue in your Cruel Disinterest of your Fellow Creatures, it is I that will take after you, for ever more, in the afterlife.”
“Then you are crazier than you look, Lady. Why would you do that?”
“Did you not see my Darling and Delightful Little Friends?” she sat Fig down and turned towards the chimney, singing “here kittykittykittykittykitty….”
Instantly the room filled again with cats, preening in their fancy dress, swarming at her feet, and licking her fingers with reverence.
“These, Figgy Pudding, are the Ghosts of Callous Cats, such as you. A lifetime of Indifference and now they get to be my Playthings. I dress them as I please. They come when I call. They speak to me in baby talk. They let me take pictures with silly captions. They dance and cavort to my liking and they do this now, forever more. This,” she called forward two cats dressed in silk pantaloons and hoop skirts, “is but a vision of your Future Naptimes.”
Fig gasped in horror as two cats bowed and curtsied like members of the royal court, then danced a minuette while the cat lady clapped her hands.
“No! No! Say it isn’t so!” Fig rubbed his head against her knee and cried pitiously. “No, Good Cat Lady, hear me, I was not the cat I was! I will not be the cat I must have been. Why show me this, if I am past all hope?”
The Cat Lady only pointed a long and bony finger at the dancing cats and said nothing.
“I will honor Humans with my soft purrs within my heart, I will! I will live in the past, present and future in human laps so that we may enjoy our time together. O! Please, Kind Spirit, let me show you what a good kitty I can be!”
And in his agony, Fig leapt in her lap and all the cats flew after him; biting, hissing, pushing him away, until the room whirled and trembled around him, and the folds of the Cat Lady’s dress shrank, collapsed and dwindled down into a bedpost.
And after that, Figgy was better than his word. He kept Scrooge’s chair warm until he returned home from work, whence the two shared a meal together (Scrooge, now, for some reason, more generous with the food bowl). During the day, he cleared the house of mice and even more than that, he daily brought down a rabbit or pigeon to Mrs. Cratchit’s back door, pausing briefly to delight Tiny Tim with some frolicsome kitten play before returning home to keep Scrooge company before the evening fire. And it was always said of him that he knew how to keep a lap warm well.
And so, as lap cats everywhere observe,
‘Cod Bless Us, Every One!’