They brought it home this past August. The pet store usually is the last stop on their Saturday round, and Charlotte, bless her heart, always brings me back a toy or a bag of treats. This is why every Saturday, around 4:00 PM, I sit by the window, twitching my tail and wondering what wonderful surprise will come out of the bag.

Imagine my shock when Charlotte came in holding a transparent plastic bag with an orange fish inside! I gave an appreciative meow and licked my chops. Food couldn’t get any fresher than that! But instead of putting the fish in my dish, as I was expecting them to do, they all went to the kitchen, and Mama shooed me away. They filled a round fish bowl with gravel, water, and fake plants, placed the fish in it, and spent a long, long time watching it swim in circles. For the rest of the evening, I was not able to get a closer look, no matter how nonchalant my approach. Around bedtime, they placed the fish bowl in Papa’s study and shut the door.

As I was sitting, staring at the door in disbelief, I decided that it was time to change tactics. For the following two days, I acted as if the fish did not interest me in the least. I carefully avoided the kitchen counter, and I sat as far away from it as possible. Although I could not help myself thinking about it every single moment, I made a conscious (and super-feline) effort to not even look in the direction of the fish bowl. As I did not want to linger downstairs by myself, I followed Charlotte after the evening meals, and cuddled with her all night.

My patience paid off. By the third day, the fish bowl had become a familiar landmark, and no one was paying any attention to me (or to the fish, for the matter). And that night, Mama forgot to place the fish bowl away before going to bed.  Poochy Pooh followed her wagging her tail. It took a while for the whole house to go silent. But eventually, I heard Mama and the dog snoring in an obnoxious duet, and I knew the coast was clear.

In one graceful leap, I jumped on the kitchen counter. The unfortunate fish was still swimming round and round, counterclockwise, and its golden scales were glittering by the light of the moon. “Splendid,” I thought, “My midnight snack is ready, and it looks delicious!” I knew that I would have to get my paw wet, but that was a minor inconvenience, considering this exotic and long coming culinary experience.

The little gold fish, however, refused to go down (my throat) quietly, so to speak. That peep squeak was faster than it looked. After half a dozen attempts with both paws, a good third of the water had splashed out of the fish bowl all over the counter, making it very slippery. At one point, out of frustration, I dipped my whole face in the bowl, and my teeth missed the fish by just a hair. Unfortunately, I was quite inexperienced at underwater sports, and the foul brew that went up my nostrils made me sneeze my head off.

When I finally stopped sneezing, I heard a low growl coming from the kitchen floor. My racket had obviously woken up the dog, and Poochy Pooh was now expressing her disapproval at catching my own sushi. The mutt and I sat there for a moment, locked in a staring contest. Then I smirked, and still looking at her, put my right paw inside the fish bowl. Poochy Pooh erupted in a barking frenzy that woke up the whole household plus some of the neighbors. Regretfully, I decided on a swift and strategic retreat through the cat door (conveniently located at the other end of the kitchen counter), and sought refuge up the chestnut tree.

Charlotte, who later took my defense, claimed that I could not help my instinct. Papa invested in a larger and rectangular fish tank, equipped with a lid, night light, and bubble maker. I sat on the kitchen counter, one evening, watching the neurotic fish swim in the same circular motion. Poochy Pooh, lying by the fireplace, was looking at me from the corner of her eye. I was raking my brain trying to come up with a logical reason why anyone would keep such a dumb and boring animal on the kitchen counter. But then, it dawned to me: “When the fish is fat enough, they’ll put it in my bowl!” Of course… And the holidays were just around the corner! So I smiled to myself, and started humming an old carol: “Christmas is coming, the fish is getting fat… Meow, meow, meow… Meow, meow, meow…”

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