by Marlene Barth © 2003

Debbie, a friend of mine, ran a busy petsitting business and asked me to help her out during the summer. She wanted to take some time off. I agreed to help her.

The day begins early, walking dogs, and giving pills to pets that need medication. Since pets were seen in their own homes, you called a number when you arrived and called when you left. This was for your own safety. I'll never forget the time I went into a home and found a man in bed - thank goodness asleep! I hurried out quickly making my exit call in the car.

Debbie had told me she had a new client - Mr. & Mrs. McKnight. They had eight cats - two very aggressive. They also had a garage full of mice and rats in cages. The owners fed these to the snakes that were in cages in two separate bedrooms. They also had a huge aquarium that housed twelve Bearded Dragons.

"Be cautious of this house, Beth. I had a strange feeling when I went there for an interview." Debbie said. "Take your bottle of water spray, and make sure you have a flashlight if it's dark."

I did all the rounds for the day, and left the new house for last.

I looked over the pages of information on the pets. Eight cats: Oreo, black & white, and Mimbo, a yellow tabby were the leaders. Cobby & Puk, Main Coons, Groucho and Tass, black cats, Sparky a Siamese and Angel, white. Food was in the kitchen pantry, and there were six cat pans to clean, and six water bowls in various rooms.

Driving to the house, I tried to make contact mentally with Oreo and Mimbo. I expressed that I was coming to visit in order to give them food, water and to tidy their pans. Their parents had put them in my care until they returned.

Entering the front door, I was glad the alarm was off and I had my spray bottle. Oreo was standing in the doorway to the dining room. The house was dark because every blind was closed. Oreo backed up and I passed him, only to run into Mimbo who was making guttural sounds. The other cats were either upstairs, hiding, or on the lanai via the kitty door. I walked backwards, trying to watch both cats, bottle in hand, talking to them the entire time. If I could get their food down, water changed and pans cleaned, I would leave before they got too excited. The next trip should be easier because they would remember me.

As I filled the bowls with dry food, Oreo was growling and Mimbo was hissing. I found all the pans and cleaned the litter. Oreo lunged at me once and I sprayed him with the water. He backed off, but only after he clawed me. I decided I would not go upstairs today. There were still the mice and rats in the garage, but they could be fed tomorrow. The snakes were shut in two separate bedrooms, and wouldn't need water today. The Bearded Dragons had to be fed. I worked my way to the refrigerator and found the bagged food for the Dragons. As the lid came off the aquarium, the male Dragons came running up the rocks in a fighting stance. Quickly, I put in the food, but dropped the lid as Oreo attacked me.

Mimbo was behind me ready to attack. I grabbed my bottle of water, but too late. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sparky, the Siamese, lifting his tail, spraying all over the wall. Oreo was on my right leg in a flash and had already bitten me. Mimbo attached my left leg. Angel, the white cat, was sitting in a corner smiling. The two Main Coon's, Cobby and Puc, came and sat next to Angel. Grocho and Tass, the two black cats joined in the row of cats.

I felt panic rising in my throat. Oreo and Mimbo attached again, I put out my hands to defend myself and was clawed, and bitten over and over again. I heard Oreo call out to the others to "attack and kill" and they all moved at once, all jumping, biting, growling, screeching and hissing. I tried to shake them off and pushed my way to the garage door where the rodents were. I might be able to close the door on most of them.

I screamed and cried in terror. I couldn't close the door the pain was so acute. I heard crashing of glass in the background and knew the cats had knocked over the mice and rats. They were superhuman and their eyes were glowing in the dark.

I heard Oreo say in the darkness "You should not have come. We don't want you here."

Mimbo screamed "You are not welcome in this house," and the other cats were chanting "yes, yes, yes, yes."

Soon the rats and mice joined in the battle and they were in my hair and on my face, each biting constantly. I fell unconscious to the floor.

I woke up in a hospital. I couldn't move for the pain. My body was swollen, hot with fever, but was shaking with chills.

Debbie called my name. I tried to turn my head, but I couldn't see. "You didn't call when you left the McKnight's house."

"I checked messages and tried to call you. After hours had passed, I called the police and met them at the house. I don't know how long you lay on the floor. Mice, rats and Bearded Dragons were all over you. The snakes were curled around each of your ankles. The cats were in a circle around your body."

"We tried to contact the owners. No one ever heard of the McKnight's. The house has been empty for over a year the police said."

x x x

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