A Cat's Coup

Shyshy, a collarless Calico living in a small New England town during the year 1903, lives a comfortable life as the loyal pet of local librarian Peter Croft. During the day, she lays about at home reading all the books her human's house has to offer. At night, she attends meetings with the other house cats to listen to the wise words of the council and welcome the newly "Collared". When she discovers the plot of a coup against the matriarch, Felicity, she must seek help from fellow house cat Commodore and a pair of alley cats named Dex and Pigeon. Can they prevent the coup? And if not, will it mean a war between the house cats and alley cats?

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2. Summer, 1903

Bright summer sunlight poured into the bedroom, causing a pair of sparkling blue eyes to flutter open. Shyshy lifted her head and yawned, arching her back in a stretch.

"Ah," she smiled, "what a glorious morning."

Glancing at the clock, she blinked in surprise. It was almost nine thirty and Peter still wasn't awake. Smirking, the young adult feline purred and she ran her rough tongue across his nose. Her owner groaned and turned his face away, attempting to save his nostrils from his cat's attack.

"So it's that kind of morning, is it," she chuckled, dropping into a crouch, "two can play at that game, Peter."

Pouncing, the cat gave a playful meow as she batted at Peter's nose with her paws. Giving another tired groan, Peter opened his eyes and smiled.

"Good morning, Shyshy."

Giving another purr, the she-cat rubbed her side against his face as he leaned up and glanced at the clock.

"Nine thirty! Shyshy, why didn't you wake me up sooner?!"

"It's not like you'd understand me, anyways," she chuckled, leaving the room as Peter rushed to get ready, "all you hear is meow mew purr."

Entering the living room, Shyshy leaped up to her favorite perch; the windowsill. Peter had even been kind enough to line it with pillows and her favorite blanket. Curling up next to the open window, she tasted the air. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, in fact everything was as it should be. Their neighbor, Ms. Dawson, was out in her garden, the McCreedy family was out walking their dog, and the milkman pulled his cart to a stop in front of the house.

Giving a welcoming meow, Shyshy leaped out the window and into the front yard. The grass had long since lost its morning dew, yet it still remained a beautiful green. Going to the front door, she grabbed the empty milk bottle by the rawhide string around the neck and proceeded in dragging it towards Mr. Gullman.

"Morning, Ms. Croft," he chuckled, reaching down to take the empty bottle from her, "thank you kindly. Be sure to tell Peter I said hello."

After giving the man's leg a quick rub, Shyshy took the full bottle and carried it back to the house. She carefully then eased it inside the building through the cat door and carried it into the kitchen.

"Thanks, Shyshy," Peter said as he rushed by, pausing only to kiss her head and grab the milk, "be a good girl, ok? I'll be home later."

His cat merely meowed as she watched him bustle out the door, "See you later, Peter."

Leaving the kitchen, Shyshy returned to the cat door and pushed her way outside. Pausing to give herself a quick groom, she slowly made her way next door to Ms. Dawson's yard.

Now, Olivia Dawson was a pretty young woman who had moved from England to start her own life in this town. The woman loved cats just as much as her garden, and always welcomed Shyshy. For many weeks, the feline noticed how the female's cheeks reddened at the sight of Peter, and it didn't take a genius to know what she was thinking.

As she approached the woman, Shyshy gave a meow.

"Morning Shyshy," she said, stopping to remove her glove and give her visitor a scratch behind the ears, "Commodore should be inside. You know the way."

Commodore was a grizzled old British long hair that had once belonged to Olivia's father. The cat was as much a war veteran as Mr. Dawson had been. Back in England, Commodore had grown up on the streets and received a single scar over his left eye as a result. Mr. Dawson found the young cat and gave him a comfortable home until the end of his days. Since Mrs. Dawson hated cats, she gave Commodore to Olivia. The single woman did not mind the company, nor did she mind having something to remember her father by.


Making her way up the front porch, Shyshy entered the open door into the larger house. While Peter's was a simple little thing, Olivia's house had not only more space, but also a second story. Commodore could not complain about the room and luxury, but he could complain about the solitude. It was for this reason that Shyshy visited him every day. The old cat enjoyed her company and entertained her with tales of his life on the streets.

"Commodore," she called out, "oh Commodore, are you home?"

"What? What!? Who goes there?!"

"It's me, Shyshy."

Suddenly, a gray head peered down from the second story balcony, "Ah, yes. Nice to see you again, lass."

"Lounging in the guest room again, Commodore?"

Chuckling, the old feline slowly made his way down the stairs, his golden eyes glinting with amusement, "Can't blame an old soldier wanting to rest his bones a bit."

Shyshy merely purred as Commodore began to scratch beneath his black leather collar, his tag giving off a beautiful chime as it bounced against the buckle. The she-cat gazed at it with longing, for more than anything she wanted a collar of her own.

Commodore noticed her staring and gave her a soft smile before rubbing up against her, "Chin up, lass. You'll be getting yours before you know it."

She merely sighed and gazed down at her paws.

"Say," he suddenly said, "how about a quick stroll to the park? I need to stretch my old bones after that nap."

Smiling, Shyshy followed Commodore as he led they way outside into the bright sunshine.

 

"And as he came in for the kill, I jumped up and raked my claws across his nose," Commodore finished, triumphantly throwing his chest out, "I tell you, lass, that dog didn't dare show his face near my alley again."

By now, Shyshy had returned to her usual cheery self, "So receiving a scar is like earning your collar in the alleys?"

"That's right," Commodore stopped to stretch once again, "although, it was back in my more...spry years."

Sharing a purr, the pair looked up to see the town's park just up ahead. On better days, they would come to lounge on the sun heated rocks by the pond's edge. Sometimes, they'd chat with the other house cats in the area. Other times, they'd talk among themselves. And, on a few rare occasions, they'd nod their heads politely to a passing alley cat.

Finding their favorite spot, Shyshy's ears perked at the sight of a familiar white coat.

"Felicity," she greeted, rushing forward to touch noses with the beautiful female, "how wonderful to see you. How have you been?"

Felicity was a full grown Persian with glittering blue eyes. While she didn't have the trademark "scowl" face most Persians had, her coat maintained its brilliant white. Her blue collar was made of fine satin, and her tag had two small diamonds dotting the "I"s in her name.


"Shyshy," she greeted, "how lovely to see you here, and on such a marvelous afternoon as well. Commodore, a pleasure to see you as well."

"Likewise, Felicity," the grizzled cat bowed his head in greeting, "no Duchess today?"

Felicity chuckled at the mention of her best friend, "I am afraid not. Her human is taking her to the groomers today."

"Ah yes," Shyshy rolled her eyes, "such a shame she needs the humans to groom her."

"Now now, Shyshy," the white she-cat mused, "her owners prefer to groom her properly. And you can't deny that she's a very elegant looking cat, can you?"

Sighing, the calico lowered her eyes, "No ma'am."

"She's a very fine young female," Commodore nodded, purring, "almost makes me wish I was half my age."

"Even if you were, you'd still be too old for her."

The trio gave small laughs as the nearby clock tower chimed two o'clock.

"Peter should be on his way home for his lunch break," Shyshy rose to her paws excitedly, "please excuse me."

"Will we see you at the meeting tonight, Shyshy?"

"Wouldn't miss it!"

Leaving the pair to talk about the weather, Shyshy took off towards her house. Passing by the other houses, she could see many other house cats lounging in the warm sun or playing with their masters. And almost all of them had collars. A sharp pain ebbed at her heart.

To a house cat, earning your collar meant reaching adulthood. It meant your human considered you a part of the family. Shyshy was now almost seven months old, and yet she was still collarless. She knew Peter wasn't a wealthy man; being a librarian didn't pay much, and most of his money went into food and bills. However, she was certain he could have been saving even a dollar from each of his paychecks and be able to afford one of the cheap collars from Paws and Claws in town. A few cats began to warn her that perhaps Peter was thinking of giving her up. She had always shrugged them off, saying Peter would never abandon her. But what if they were right? What if her master was just waiting for the right moment to get rid of her?

She was so focused on this thought that she didn't see the smaller cat cross in front of her path. Slamming into the stranger's side, the pair yowled in surprise as they rolled a ways before breaking apart.

"Oh my," Shyshy scrambled to her paws and rushed to her "victim's" side, "I am so sorry. Are you all right?"

"Yes," the voice that answered came from a younger female with pale peach colored fur, "I'm fine. Are you okay?"

"I'm all right," Shyshy began to circle the young she-cat, inspecting her thoroughly for injuries, "are you positive you're all right? My master can help you if you're hurt."

Amusement flashed across the cat's yellow eyes, "You're just as bad as my mom and brother. I'm fine, thank you for asking."

"Oh," giving a sigh of relief, Shyshy backed off, "sorry. I was going pretty fast, so I had to make sure."

"I've seen faster," the younger cat shrugged, "I'm Pigeon."

 Blinking in surprise, Shyshy noticed that Pigeon was a small light colored tabby. She had no collar and her scent wasn't familiar. Her fur seemed ruffled, though Shyshy was quite sure it had been that way long before their little collision. She also seemed a little on the thin side, making the calico wonder if this new feline was from this part of town.

"So," Pigeon's voice cut into her thoughts, "do I get to learn the name of my attacker?"

"Attacker," Shyshy's fur bristled with shock, "it was an accident, I can promise you-"

"Calm down," she chuckled, "it was a joke."

Suddenly feeling very embarrassed, the older cat gave a soft purr, "Oh, sorry. My name is Shyshy."

"Shyshy....pretty."

"Thank you. I like it too," she smiled, "are you from around here?"

"Not really," Pigeon shrugged, sitting down to start grooming herself, "I'm just scoping out the area."

"For what?"

Before the tabby could answer, a large shadow came bounding out of the bushes Pigeon had appeared from, "There you are! I've been looking all over for you! Do you have any idea how much trouble we're going to be in?"

Shyshy scrambled to her paws and backed off as she watched a much larger tabby tom glare down at the young female. He was dark in color with burning red eyes and a small chip in his left ear as well as another one in his lower right ear. A long, ugly scar traveled down his left side, stopping on his hindquarter. He had two smaller scars on his lower neck and another one across his right eye. He, too, was skinny and had no collar.

Though his rugged appearance terrified Shyshy, Pigeon glared right back at him, "I'm looking for food like mom asked me to!"

"You know we stay away from this side of town," the male snarled, "the house cats don't like us! If one catches you, they'll think we're invading their territory."

"Excuse me," the tom spun around at the sound of Shyshy's voice, "forgive me if I'm being blunt, but are you two alley cats by any chance?"

"Who is this?"

"Shyshy," Pigeon purred, rubbing up against the male, "this bundle of joy is my older brother, Dex. Dex, this is Shyshy. We sort of...bumped into one another."

Dex turned to glare at the female, who instantly felt small beneath his gaze.

"You think we're alley cats? Why? Is it because we're not as pretty as you?"

"Dex!"

"Or maybe it's because we're not as adequately groomed as you," by now, the tom began to circle the calico, "was it our breath that gave it away? Or is it because we're not as fat as you? Or maybe, just maybe, it's because we don't have those fancy collars like you do."

Giving a yowl, Shyshy turned and hissed at Dex. He backed off in surprise at her sudden hostility.

"Listen here, you brute," she snarled, "I don't know what house cats you've met, but I can assure you I do not think ill of you and your family. And for your information, you are not the only ones without collars," taking a deep breath, she continued, "I was merely asking because you said "house cats". Why would you say that unless you weren't one yourself?"

Blinking in surprise, Dex regained himself and smirked, "You're feisty. That's adorable."

Surprised, the female couldn't stop the heat consuming her face. Clearing her throat, she gave her shoulder a quick scratch.

"If you're looking for food, I'd be happy to help you out."

"We don't take handouts from pets," the scowl returned to Dex's face, "thanks anyways, sweetheart."

"Then don't call it a handout," she smiled, "call it an apology for knocking your sister over."

Before Dex could say anything else, Pigeon purred, "I'll take that. Lead on, Shyshy."

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