After dinner that night, Boots called a meeting with Gracie and Puss. Willow was on the cat tree, washing his face, and the ladies convened in the wash room, next to the kitty litter box.
“Phew,” said Boots. “The box was just cleaned. What’s that stink?”
“It’s Willow,” replied Gracie. “He can’t hit the box and just sprays everything. I think it’s a male thing.”
“Can’t he be taught better manners?” asked Boots, flopping down on the floor and gracefully swishing just the tip of her tail.
“I think Mister and Missus have tried, but I heard them saying they didn’t know what to do at this point. He can’t help it, he’s male. What they need to do is put a cover on the wall behind the box,” Puss suggested as she rubbed her face against the door jamb.
“What about one of those enclosed boxes?” suggested Gracie, who was delicately sniffing out the location of the odor. “They had one where they kept me after whatever they did at the vets.”
“Think, Gracie,” counseled Boots. “Would you like to crawl into a covered box with walls all covered with Willow’s spray? No, better to keep him in the open.”
“Yuck, you’re right,” said Gracie. “So Boots, exactly why are we here?”
“I’m tired of Willow ruling the roost. He complains constantly, eats from all our food bowls, and insults us from morning to night. Plus he’s always stalking me. He needs to be taken down a peg or two.”
“I don’t think he’s so bad,” whined Puss.
“That’s just because you are always mooning after him and trying to lie next to him. Have some pride,” exclaimed Gracie. “Look at how he insults you! So just how do you think you’re going to do this, Boots?” Gracie hunkered down on the floor and gave her coat an absent-minded lick in apparent disinterest, but kept one ear cocked towards Boots.
“Well, that’s where the three of us come in,” Boots answered, walking over to the food bowls and looking to see if there was anything left. “I figure it will take the three of us to figure out what to do and three of us to do it. Are you in?”
“Well, he did take a swipe at me on the couch this afternoon and then he tried to trip me when Mister and Missus called us for dinner,” commented Gracie.
“And he took my place on the bed last night,” complained Boots. “You know I like to sleep curled up next to Missus, but he pushed me away and I had to sleep between the pillows where he usually sleeps.”
They both looked at Puss and said at the same time, “Okay, what about you?”
“Well, I don’t have that problem. I have my own bed.” Puss went and sat with her back to her two friends, looking out into the kitchen.
“Yes, and you like to sleep under it. What a dodo. You’re supposed to sleep in it.”
Puss’s tail switched back and forth in annoyance. “I don’t want any part of this,” she said rather crossly.
“Then you’d better keep your mouth shut,” warned Gracie. “If you tell him what we’re up to, you’re toast.”
“Hummpph,” said Puss, getting up and walking through the kitchen and into the living room, where she jumped up in Mister’s lap and mewed piteously.
“Good grief,” said Gracie, as they followed her out. “There she goes again, crying for treats. Mister will give in to her, wait and see.”
The next morning, after Mister and Missus had left for the day, Gracie and Boots met in the upstairs hallway. “So have you given any more thought to what we talked about last night?” asked Boots. She sat calmly, looking down the stairs to make sure they wouldn’t be overheard by Puss or Willow. “Where are they by the way?”
“The last time I looked they were on the sofa,” replied Gracie. “Willow was washing his nether parts and Puss was inching her way over to lie beside him.” Gracie was crouched on the hall rug with her one front paw tucked under, watching Boots and switching her tail from side to side. “And yes, I’ve given it some thought, but no, I haven’t got a plan. How about you?”
“I think I’ve come up with something. I had to. Willow ate my entire breakfast this morning,” and here Boots gave a half sneeze that sounded like a hair ball coming up. “All I had to eat was that tasteless stuff Mister gives to Puss to help with her weight. There was nothing else left. I’ve simply must get downstairs earlier in the morning.”
“So? What’s your idea?”
“It’s got to involve water. You know Willow hates water.”
“Well, I don’t like it much myself,” commented Gracie, “but I notice you like to be on the edge of the tub when Mister takes his shower. Do you like water?”
“I do. It’s wonderful stuff! I like to put my paw in the water when Mister is shaving in the morning and splash it around. I actually got in the bathtub with him one night, you know. The water was nice and warm and I was enjoying it, but he didn’t like me in there with him because he yelled at me and threw me out.”
“What did you do then?”
“I ran downstairs. It took me two hours to lick myself dry. Don’t you remember the morning Missus sat in the wet spot on the sofa?”
“Oh yeah, all the yelling at Mister. Did she ever scold you?”
“No. I heard her telling Mister she couldn’t scold me because it had been too long a time from when I got it wet and I wouldn’t understand. As if. Anyway, I got to thinking maybe there’s a way we could get Willow in the bathtub. The tub has to be full, of course.”
“But how could we do that?”
“I’m working on it,” replied Boots and she walked delicately down the stairs.