The cat who lost his hat

Carl was a proud cat. He didn’t allow anyone to groom him, and spent even more time licking his fur and cleaning himself than most of his fellow felines. His greatest joy was a hat he once found in a remote corner of his human’s dressing room, one day that he got mistakenly stuck in it. Humans were so often scatterbrained…

Carl smuggled the hat out of the closet while his human was at work. She used to think that Carl couldn’t tell for how long she was away, but humans always underestimate cats, and cats joyfully play on this lack of imagination. He waited for half an hour after she left, to make sure she didn’t forget anything. Humans can be so absent-minded sometimes. Once he was sure she wouldn’t come back, he opened the closet door. His human didn’t notice he had stuck a piece torn out of a plastic bag just at the bottom of the door, so it wouldn’t close completely, allowing him to open it when he’d wish to.

The toughest part had been to find a spot to hide the hat. It had to be a place where his human wouldn’t look, and she was quite obsessive about tidiness, which of course was a source of joy for Carl, as he loved to make a mess of her carefully piled clothes. The fact she didn’t kick him out because of it showed how cats had a hold on most humans.

Carl finally found the ideal place: behind a pile of food cans. His human used to think ahead, and always had way too many cans, so she barely ever touched the second row, and never the third. Carl rearranged all in a way that she wouldn’t notice, but dug a hole for his hat.

For months, Carl played with his hat while his human was asleep. He used to wear it in front of the bathroom’s mirror, admiring the feathery movements when he moved his head. Of course, he also loved to chase said feathers, but not too much, he didn’t want to damage the hat. When his human watched Puss in Boots for the first time, Carl was proud and offended at the same time: how could they know about the hat, and what an obnoxious caricature and break of his privacy! On the other hand, he was now a famous cat, even though he didn’t have boots.

Carl and his hat were happy until Doomsday Week-End. He didn’t anticipate his human would do some spring cleaning the last days of autumn. She decided to check on the food cans for those which would have passed their used-by date, and found the hat. Of course, she never imagined that Carl could have put it there, she just thought it might have fallen behind the cans by accident. She seemed quite happy to get it back, though. Carl was outraged. That’s probably why he got careless.

While his human was piling freshly washed sheets in a drawer, Carl sneaked in the closet where his human distractedly placed the hat. He stealthily jumped on the closet’s top shelf, clawed the hat… and got suddenly grabbed by the scruff of the neck. He lost balance and clawed the closest surface, which happened to be his  human’s face and chest. She yelped, Carl meowed loudly, they both fell, the hat flew away…

Unfortunately, the window was open, a way for his human to air the whole apartment during the big cleaning, since it appeared to be the last beautiful weather of the year. During their fall, both Carl and his human let go of the hat, but in such a way that it went into a swirling motion, which wouldn’t have shamed a flying saucer from a 70’s movie. The hat went frisbee-style through the window, the human tried to grab it and experienced the laws of gravity down to her grave.

Carl survived, of course, cats always do, but his human’s heirs didn’t care about a four-legged companion. They published an online ad for a few days to find him a new “master”, as they said, but as no one replied, they gave up and just took off with the portion of his late human’s things they wanted, leaving Carl alone to experience the streets’ life as a stray cat. These were rough times for him, and he didn’t go through it unharmed, but what hurt him most and that he could never recover from was that he never saw his hat again, ever.