Snuggles Has to Go!
by Kimberly Solís
She found it in the alley behind a dumpster, trying to stay dry as it huddled in a cardboard box. Rain slashed down from the sky, pounding on Sara’s blue rain hat.
“Here, kitty,” Sara said, but it would not come. The cat only yawned a lazy yawn and blinked its golden eyes at her.
She took the half-eaten tuna fish sandwich out of her purple lunchbox and squatted down to get a better look at it.
“Come get the sandwich,” she said. “It’s good.”
The kitty crept out of the box toward her, switching its brown tail. The cat’s whiskers trembled, and its hair was plastered to its skinny body.
With one graceful leap, the kitten flew into her arms, and she fed it the treat. Then she clutched it to her chest beneath the raincoat. Sara felt its warm purr next to her pounding heart.
“Can I keep it?” she begged Mama when she got home. “Please?”
“It’s an animal!” Mama said, her eyes as huge as quarters. “Look, Herbert,” she told Daddy. “She’s brought home an animal!”
“I believe it’s called a cat, my dear,” said Daddy.
“Can I keep it?” Sara asked. “Can I?”
“If you promise to take care of it,” Mama said.
“If you feed it,” Daddy said.
“If you make sure it has water,” Mama said.
“If you teach it to behave,” Daddy said.
“I’ll call him Snuggles,” said Sara.
And that’s how Snuggles came to stay.
“Remove the kitten from the couch,” Daddy often said when Snuggles sprawled across his favorite chair.
“Kittens must not eat cookies,” Mama said when Snuggles pounced upon the freshly baked sugar cookies.
And so Snuggles grew and grew and grew until he was big—a very, very, very big cat!
Whenever Sara took Snuggles for walks, people stared at the two of them. Most people ran away. Some screamed. The neighborhood cats hissed at Snuggles and scrambled up the nearest tree. Dogs slinked away with their tails between their legs.
That’s when Sara knew Snuggles was different.
At home, Mama was not pleased.
“Snuggles just knocked over my favorite vase,” Mama said, or “Snuggles is eating us out of house and home.”
“Move over, Snuggles,” Daddy said, frowning. “I have no room to sit on the couch.”
Snuggles liked to jump about the room and leap over the kitchen table. Pots fell off shelves. Plates clattered from the cupboards. Sugar spilled out of the sugar bowl. The whole house shook!
“Something must be done,” said Mama.
“Something must be done,” said Daddy.
“You said I could keep him,” said Sara, and she flung her arms around Snuggles’ neck. His long pink tongue reached out and licked Sara’s cheek.
“Why does Snuggles have all that hair around his head?” Mama asked one day.
“It looks like a mane,” said Daddy.
“And why does he roar at all hours of the day?” Mama asked. “The neighbors are beginning to complain.”
“There’s nothing wrong with Snuggles,” said Sara. “He’s a perfectly normal cat.”
But Sara knew Snuggles was not a normal cat. No! Snuggles was a lion!
Maybe they won’t notice, she thought.
Sara was crazy about Snuggles. They did everything together. They read books together. They danced to music. They ate ice cream on the back porch. They climbed trees and played ball. She rode on Snuggles’ back through the neighborhood, waving hello to everyone they met.
Then something terrible happened.
“This is the last straw!” Mama said one afternoon. “Snuggles has eaten my favorite hat!”
“Not the one with the pink bird on top?” asked Daddy.
“The very one,” said Mama. “Snuggles has to go.”
“Oh, no!” said Sara, scratching Snuggles’ ear. “He didn’t mean to do it.”
Snuggles yawned and stretched out on his back, gazing up at them with his yellow eyes.
“No, Snuggles,” Mama said. “I will not rub your belly. You’ve been bad. Go to your room.”
So Snuggles scrambled to his feet and padded over to his basket. He curled up, fell asleep, and began to snore.
That night, Mama and Daddy made a decision.
Daddy placed an ad in the local newspaper:
FOR SALE: BROWN CAT WITH GOLDEN EYES. FREE TO GOOD HOME. CALL 555-3892.
People came to look at Snuggles, but nobody wanted him.
“He’s gigantic,” one woman said.
“He’s too big,” said another.
“Too scary!” said an old man.
“Mama! It’s a lion,” said a little boy, but his mother just laughed and said, “Don’t be silly, Michael.”
But she didn’t want Snuggles either.
“Thank goodness,” said Sara after each person left. Snuggles was still hers!
“I’m afraid we’ll have to take him to the zoo,” said Mama.
“But Snuggles isn’t a wild animal,” Sara said, stroking his huge, shaggy head.
“He’s too big for a house,” said Daddy. “And the animal shelter won’t take him for some strange reason.”
No matter how much Sara cried and argued, Daddy and Mama would not back down.
Snuggles scrunched down in his little basket, looking at them with a pitiful expression on his face.
“We’re sorry, Snuggles,” said Mama, patting the cat on his huge nose, “but we must do what is best for you and for us.”
Daddy called the zoo and arranged for the zookeeper to come pick up Snuggles the next day.
And that was that. Until later that night.
“Help! Help!” screamed a voice in the darkness.
Sarah tumbled out of bed and met her parents in the hallway.
“Go see who’s out there, Herbert!” Mama demanded, her eyes wide.
“Why me?” asked Daddy, shivering in his bathrobe.
“I’ll go,” Sara said.
“No!” said her parents.
“We’ll all go,” said Daddy.
And so they did…only to find Snuggles sitting in the middle of the living room. And a man was dangling from his mouth. Snuggles held the man by the seat of his pants. The man was holding a huge cloth bag, and there were Mama’s antique silverware, Daddy’s portable radio, and lots more.
“Good boy, Snuggles,” said Daddy.
“Good boy, Snuggles,” said Mama.
“Good boy, Snuggles,” said Sara. “Now can Snuggles stay?”
“Yes,” said Daddy.
“Yes,” said Mama. “Snuggles is a very useful pet.”
Twenty minutes later, the police arrived.
“Folks, that is an extremely large cat!” shouted one of the police officers, backing away from Snuggles.
“That’s no cat!” the robber said as he was led away. “That thing’s a lion!”
“Ridiculous,” said Mama.
“Ridiculous,” said Daddy.
Sarah didn’t say anything. She just smiled.
And that’s how Snuggles came to stay. He learned how to NOT knock things over, he learned how to NOT jump on the kitchen table, he learned how to NOT eat Mama’s hats (especially the ones with birds on tops).
But, he wasn’t perfect. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t resist Mama’s freshly baked sugar cookies!
1. Where did Sara find the cat?
2. What did Sara name her new pet?
3. What kind of animal was Sara’s pet?
4. Who did Snuggles catch in his mouth?
5. Why did Sara’s parents decide to keep Snuggles?