The rustling sound gave me pause.
Taking a sip of coffee, I lowered the newspaper and looked around the bedroom.
Crackle. Crackle. Jingle. Jingle.
The bell gave him away, because it’s too early for one of Santa’s reindeer.
I flung my cozy quilt aside, knelt on the floor, and lifted the bed skirt.
That’s where I found Walter manhandling (cathandling?) a half-loaf of bread. His sharp teeth had punctured tiny holes in the bag, and the bread was mostly squished.
“Walter!” I yelled. “Bad kitty!”
This wasn’t our 7-month-old kitten’s first foray into bread theft.
Some weeks earlier I’d awoken to a similar scenario. Derek had surprised me with a lovely breakfast in bed before he left for work. It was still too early for me to get up, so I dozed off after enjoying it. Apparently, wanting to demonstrate that he, too, was capable of serving me breakfast, Walter dragged an entire loaf of bread to the bedroom.
The loaf was bigger than him, and he couldn’t hoist it onto the bed, so he decided to squeeze it beneath.
I loudly expressed my displeasure.
Baffled, Walter cocked his head, gazed at me with sorrowful eyes, and gave a small chirp which I interpreted as, “How come Dad gets kisses when he brings you food in bed, and I get yelled at?”
With no room on our kitchen counters for a bread box, we store bread on top of our refrigerator. After all, none of our other cats had ever ventured up there.
Of course, none of our other cats have decided to jump on our ceramic stove to watch our son cook macaroni and cheese.
Thankfully, Walter wasn’t burned, but Sam was pretty traumatized. I suggested in the future he should stay by the stove while the water boils, just in case.
In addition to on top of the fridge, we’ve taken to storing our bread in the microwave – anything to keep Walter’s paws off our loaves.
Evidently, he’s addicted to the crinkling sound of plastic, because he’s also smuggled an entire bag of miniature marshmallows to our bedroom. When I caught him with the marshmallows, I discovered his stash of plastic grocery bags under our bed.
But our furry Jean Valjean still prefers to focus his thievery on bread.
I spent Sunday making sausage with my sisters-in-law. When I returned home, Walter met me at the top of the stairs, licking his chops.
I hustled to the microwave and opened the door. The bread was still there. Then Thor, our senior tabby, strolled into the kitchen, also licking his whiskers.
They watched me to see if treats were forthcoming, but I was not in a treat-dispensing mood.
“Walter,” I said. “What have you done?”
He gave a pleased little trill and sauntered toward the bedroom with his tail held high. I followed and found a trail of crumbs leading to a Ziploc bag of mangled cornbread.
He’d managed to climb on top of the refrigerator, snatch the Saturday supper leftovers, take the bag to our bedroom, tear a hole in it, and share the spoils with Thor.
Who knew cats like cornbread?
“Walter,” I muttered. “You are working your way to the top of Santa’s naughty list.”
Rubbing his head on my ankles, he purred and stretched out on top of my feet. Apparently, he’s of the opinion that being utterly adorable automatically earns you a spot on the nice list.
However, his hopes to find his stocking stuffed with a loaf of bread may be dashed on Christmas morning. At this rate, all Walter’s getting is a lump of coal.
Contact Cindy Hval at email@example.com. She’s the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation. View recent “Front Porch” television segments from Spokane Talks on FOX 28 at spokanetalksmedia.com/lets-talk-2-2.
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