Cat and Mouse in Partnership more closely resembles an Aesop fable than it does a traditional Grimm’s story, but with that said, it’s still a traditional Grimm’s story. Yes, this story has a moral like all Aesop’s fables.
Once upon a time a cat and a mouse were friends. Don’t ask me how this happened. My cats kill mice, they even drowned one in their water bowl once. I’m a little afraid of them now considering the fact that the particular mouse-a-cide in question was obviously premeditated.
This cat and mouse were friends. The cat would constantly talk about how they were such awesome buddies. They probably had some of those BFF bracelets from the 1990s. It is decided that the cat and mouse will move in together and keep house. If that isn’t a strange relationship I don’t know what is. It’s probably illegal.
Winter is coming, of course, and the cat and mouse decide to put up some provisions. The cat says, wisely, that the mouse should stay home and keep the house while the cat goes out and finds food. The cat doesn’t want the mouse getting caught in any traps. This is all a very logical train of thought. The cat goes out and finds a pot of fat. The mouse and the cat are deciding where to put the pot of fat, when the idea of storing it at a nearby church strikes them. They take the pot of fat to the church and hide it under the altar.
It’s not long before the cat just can’t handle the idea of a delicious pot of fat sitting there all by itself. The cat tells the mouse that she has been asked to be godmother to a new kitten who is white with brown spots. The cat then goes off to the church and licks the top off of the pot of fat.
When the cat comes home the mouse asks what the new kitten was named. The cat replies, “Top Off,” the mouse thinks this is a rather strange name, but the cat throws back that “crumb stealer” is also a strange name and they leave it at that.
Not long after this another craving for fat strikes the cat. She has once again been asked to be godmother to a new kitten. This time the kitten has a white ring around its neck. The cat goes to the church and devours half the pot of fat. When the cat comes back the mouse asks, again, what the name of the new kitten is. The cat replies with, “Half -done.” The mouse, again, thinks this is strange. Who in the heck names their kids names like, top off, half-done, and Steve? I’m just kidding about the Steve part.
Yet again, the cat is all like, “I’m having some major fat cravings of pregnancy proportions,” and goes off to the church. This time the kitten is supposed to be all black with white feet. The cat eats the rest of the fat, then stays out all night.
When the cat finally returns home the mouse asks what the name of the new kitten is. The cat says, “All-gone.” The mouse is a little perplexed by this, but goes about its business.
Winter finally hits. Everything outside is dead or hiding. Food is scarce. The mouse says to the cat that they should go and get their pot of fat. They go to the church. When they get there, they find the pot, but no fat. The mouse finally realizes what has happened. The mouse immediately begins to accuse the cat of eating all of the fat, but when the mouse has barely said the last name “All-done,” the cat gobbles up the mouse.
“Verily, that is the way of the world.”
This story reminds me of both The Ant and the Grasshopper and the fable about the lion and the mouse. The cat and the mouse are natural enemies. One generally eats the other, or just plays with it until it’s dead, like my cats. Their relationship is uncommon and doesn’t end well.
I have to wonder about this whole cat and mouse relationship. I’ll get to the idea of building a relationship from different backgrounds in the Themes section, but even so, don’t you think the relationship between the cat mouse is a little…predatory?
While reading this story, I am reminded of those terrible individuals who will go around and pick up children or women in their vans. The children and women are not murdered. These people will take their victims and hide them away from the world. They don’t want anyone’s eyes but theirs on their captives. They may beat, rape, and generally mistreat their captives, but they also protect them in a weird, sick way. They may make sure they have medicine, clothing, food and shelter, but they’re not allowed to leave. It’s almost as if they’re trying to own another person completely and in an even more severe sense than something like slavery.
We have examples of this in real life. Think back to the woman who was held captive for years by her own father in a secret under-ground lair he had built. Think about Elizabeth Smart. Think about the three recently discovered women who had been missing for years. This happens all the time.
I also have to think about the book Room, which I read some time back. In that book a woman was held captive for years in one tiny room. She was forced to raise a child in the room for five years, alone.
These scenarios remind me of this whole cat and mouse story. The cat is a predator to the mouse. The cat takes the mouse away from other mice and cats. In a sense the cat is protecting the mouse. The mouse stays home. There is food and shelter. But when it comes down to basic differences, the cat is still preying upon the mouse. Even after protecting the mouse all this time, the cat still chooses to end the mouse’s life. Ultimately, once the cat considered the mouse as her own, there was no “out” for the mouse.
The first theme is that you have to be careful about who you trust. If you know it’s a person’s nature to be misleading, then you probably shouldn’t trust them even if they give you a BFF bracelet. They will turn on you eventually.
I already mentioned the whole captive situation, but I would like to now write about the idea of this relationship the cat and mouse have. The cat and mouse do have a relationship. It’s not a kissing/hugging type of relationship, but they’re animals they generally don’t do that. Consider the cat and mouse as people. Imagine the cat is a person and imagine the mouse is a person and consider that the differences between cat and mouse are socioeconomic differences, racial differences, gender differences or similarities, physical differences and so forth.
The cat and the mouse are endeavoring to have this non-traditional relationship. Consider the similar scenarios in real life. Someone very poor marries someone very wealthy. Someone who is Jewish marries a Catholic. Someone who is Cherokee marries someone who is African-American. Someone who is a giant marries a little person. Perhaps, we’re even discussing a same-sex relationship. All of these scenarios I have just mentioned have all happened and happen every single day, well, maybe not every day, but you get the idea, none of these are unheard of. Are these relationships impossible? No, they’re not. There are plenty of people who make relationships like these work every single day. Are these relationships more difficult than relationships of people with similar backgrounds? You bet.
Relationships of people who have similar backgrounds are difficult; relationships of people from different backgrounds have all the difficulties of relationships with similar backgrounds and added difficulties resulting from the difference in backgrounds. We’ve all got opinionated families. We’ve all got society looking at us, unless you live in the woods in the middle of Alaska, then just bears are looking at you. We’re all under pressure to make certain things out of a relationship. Just imagine one side wants you to do A and the other side wants you to do B and, of course, they’re all kind of jerks about the whole thing so you’re either going to have to go completely to A, completely to B, make a compromise between the two that no one else is a fan of, or just move to the mountains with the grizzly bears and say screw the whole thing. You could also end the relationship because of all the pressure from the different sides, which also happens.
Whether you like it or not, this story does kind of say something about having a non-traditional relationship. It doesn’t end well for the cat and mouse. That isn’t to say it couldn’t have worked. I once saw a video about a snake and a hamster who were friends. I have no idea how that happened or why it continued to happen, but the snake never ate the hamster.
This was a short story that can be interpreted in many ways. You have to consider that the primary purpose of the Grimm’s stories was not to entertain. There are lessons to be learned.
aeseop’s fables, background differences, captive women, cat and mouse, cat and mouse are friends, cat and mouse in partnership, cat is a predator, elizabeth smart, fables about mice, grimm’s fairy tales, predators, relationship differences
Grimm’s Fairy Tales