In this short story, Uncle Tippy takes the kittens orienteering. But all is not quite what it seems.
Uncle Tippy Takes The Kittens Orienteering
Not Quite The Normal Start To The Day
The kittens, Niblet and Monk, both grey tabbies, had been aware that something was going on for a couple of days. They had noticed little huddles of cats talking together with backward glances looking at them. Their mother had told them not to take any notice. Cats will be cats after all. And even kittens gossip as we know from the past.
Today was different, not quite the normal start to the day. Their mother had been fastidious in getting them to wash thoroughly. She had also insisted they had extra food at breakfast. Something was definitely going on! They heard their mother start to say to Moonboots, a grey and cream tabby cat, “When Uncle Tippy takes the kittens orienteering …” but she stopped talking when she saw they were nearby.
Stand Up Straight That Lad
Suddenly, there was movement and Rolly, a dark tabby, and Tippy, a white and tabby cat with a white tip to his tail, appeared and stood in front of them. Rolly went off to the side and lay down.
Tippy gave the kittens a stern glance. He looked them up and down. Monk was just about to lay down when Tippy shouted, “Stand up straight that lad”. Monk immediately sat bolt upright. Niblet gave him a nervous glance. She noticed that her mother had gone to lay down at the back of the cat garden with some of the other cats.
“Today is a big day for you two,” said Tippy as he paced up and down in front of the startled kittens. “This is the day where you start to learn cat lore and become fully fledged members of the cat family. We are going off on an adventure. You will pay attention. You will do as you are told. Am I making myself clear?”
At this point there was the sound of giggling in the background followed by a startled mew and then a thump as a cat fell off the roof of the cat garden. Treacle’s voice was heard saying, “Ouch”.
With tears in his eyes through struggling not to laugh, Tippy tried to look sternly at the kittens. “Now, say goodbye to your mother and off we go.”
The Adventure Begins
As Uncle Tippy takes the kittens orienteering, their mother, a grey and white tabby, turned to someone in the shadows and said, “I hope they will be all right.” Moonboots’ soft voice came back, “You know they will be fine Scruff. Tippy won’t let anything happen to them. He just wants to teach them some lessons so they don’t have to learn the hard way like we did when we got lost.”
Scruff gave a rueful smile. Who could forget when Moonboots, Tweedledee and Tippy got lost and the big adventure they had?
The kittens went off happily with Tippy, stopping to play with little stones and rocks and pull at the odd blade of grass.
The Importance Of Landmarks
“Listen kids,” said Tippy, “it is really important that you look around you as you walk and see the landmarks. Then you will know how to get home. Do you think you can do that?” The kittens nodded enthusiastically.
“Look at this tree by the stream,” said Tippy. “Can you see all the scratch marks on it? If you look back the way we have come you can see the house from here can’t you?” Again the kittens nodded. “So when you see this tree you know you are always near home right?” finished Tippy. The kittens glanced at each other. It was obvious that they thought he was nuts. Tippy smiled to himself.
Tippy and the kittens walked for quite a long way, Tippy pointing out landmarks along the way. Sometimes a tree stump or odd shaped tree, other times markings on the floor or a particular shaped rock. Monk got quite into climbing all the rocks and trees. The kittens weren’t always listening to Tippy’s teaching though as they got easily distracted by butterflies and movement in the grass.
Time For A Rest
The kittens were starting to hang back as they were tired. Tippy suggested it was time for a rest and they all settled down to sleep in the cool shade, hiding from the afternoon sunshine.
The Kittens Were On Their Own!
Some time later the kittens woke up and looked around them. To their horror they realised they were on their own.
“Uncle Tippy!” called Monk. Niblet started to look anxious and said, “Monk I want to go home.” “Let’s wait for a bit and see if Uncle Tippy comes back,” said Monk.
Well it was clear after a while that the kittens were on their own! “We’ve got no choice, Sis”, said Monk, “we have to try and find our way back home.” Niblet started to cry. “No use crying Nibs, we have to start walking,” said her brother kindly.
The kittens started walking slowly back the way they came. They didn’t see Tippy in the tree above them watching them, or their Uncle Rabby just out of sight at the top of the hill keeping watch.
“Look,” shouted Niblet, “there is that funny shape rock you climbed”. Both the kittens were by now furiously trying to remember what Tippy had told them.
Danger From Above
As they walked down a path, out in the open as they had specifically been told NOT to do, a large shadow came over them and a buzzard shrieked. For a second the kittens froze and then Niblet shoved Monk and shouted, “Under cover, quick.” They both dashed under a bush. The shadow moved away.
Another shadow moved nearby, but the kittens didn’t see that one. It was their Uncle Rolly breathing a sigh of relief as he moved back into his hiding place nearby! “We must remember to stay under cover Monk,” said Niblet emphatically.
Help From An Old Friend
It seemed to the kittens that they had been walking for hours, although in reality it had not been very long. But they were now struggling to find their way and didn’t recognise anything around them!
The Wild Boar
There was a rustle to the right of them and a strong smell. Suddenly a large wild boar appeared. The kittens were terrified!
“Don’t be afraid my little ones, I won’t harm you. It is foxes you need to worry about,” said the boar. “I assume you know that if you see a fox you are to climb the nearest tree and stay there until you are sure it is safe.” Niblet nodded. Uncle Tippy had repeated that advice several times. That bit they did remember!
“Are you trying to find your way home?” Realizing he wasn’t going to hurt them, Niblet plucked up her courage and stepped forward. “Yes Sir, we are all on our own and we don’t know where we are. Could you help us?”
The boar chuckled, it was almost as if he had been here before. “Yes, now do you remember where the sun was in the sky this morning?”. “Ooh yes, yes, I do, I do!” said Monk. “It was over there,” he said, pointing with his paw. “And where is the sun now?” asked the boar gently, looking at Niblet. “Over the other side of the sky, Sir,” she said politely. “The sun comes up one place and goes down in another, didn’t you know that?” asked the boar. Monk shuffled his feet, looking a bit sheepish. He remembered now that this was one of the things Uncle Tippy had tried to tell them.
Old Friends Working Together
The boar snorted, nearly knocking Niblet over as he did so. “If you walk in the direction you saw the sun this morning, you will find your house.” “Oh, thank you sir,” said Niblet as she and Monk started running in that direction. Rabby emerged from his hiding place and trailed them, always keeping them in sight. He looked back at the boar and smiled.
After they had gone, the boar looked at the bush next to him. “Is that what you wanted my old friend?” he asked of the cat hiding in the bush. “That was perfect thank you Sir,” replied the voice of Tippy. Chortling to himself the boar headed off down the hill. These cats!
The Scratching Tree
Within a few minutes Monk recognised the scratching tree that Uncle Tippy had shown them near the stream. They both then recognised the path they had come along initially when they first started on their adventure.
Then the kittens could see the edge of the garden by the house.
“Oh thank goodness,” said Niblet. “I can’t wait to see mother and the others and tell them what has happened.” “I can’t wait to eat something,” said Monk.
As they ran round the corner to the front of the house they bumped into Rolly who was waiting for them.
Congratulations You have Passed!
Rolly smiled at both of the kittens, touched noses with them and said, “Congratulations you’ve passed.” “Passed what Uncle Rolly?” asked Niblet. “The test. Since he had a bad experience when he got lost as a kitten, your Uncle Tippy has taken it upon himself to make sure all kittens know where they live and how to get home if they get lost.”
“So it was all planned?” asked Monk. “We were not abandoned?” “More importantly, you were never on your own!” laughed Rolly. Uncle Tippy, Uncle Rabby and I followed you every step of the way. Mind you, you did have me worried over the buzzard incident. It was foolish to run around in the open like that!” he said.
A tired sounding voice said, “Now the excitement is all over can I go back to sleep?”. Rolly and the kittens looked up to see Sandy trying to sleep on the window ledge. The kittens giggled and ran into the cat garden to find their mother and tell her all about it.
Treacle came and stood with Rolly. “The next time Uncle Tippy takes the kittens orienteering I want to be involved,” he said. Rolly cuffed him round the ear affectionately. “The trouble is, my dear, goofy brother, you would be the one who would get lost!” “True dat,” said Treacle laughing. “Come on, time for something to eat.”
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!