Mabel in the Woods

Mabel in the Woods is narrated by Ben, a tall man in his late fifties, who speaks to us from a study in his house by the woods.  He tells us about Mabel, a cat, remembering her life as a kitten with her mother and two sisters, blissfully happy with the old woman who put out food for her until one day the old woman died and no one put out food any more.  Then a coyote came and the four cats ran off in different directions.  Mabel found shelter in an old log in the woods.  She didn’t know how long she had lived in the woods before an old tomcat appeared and, long after he had left, she gave birth to four kittens, three boys and a girl.  When her kittens were about three weeks old, she found two black boy kittens and allowed them to nurse and join the others.  She gives each of them a name and, Ben tells us, one of the black kittens, Panther, brought them into contact with the tall man by finding the refuse pile where the man threw out edible garbage including chicken wings and pork chops.  Soon, Yellow Cat, Fuzzy, Cookie, Albert, and Louie were eating at the pile, lining up on a log to wait for the tall man.  Mabel stayed hidden but as time passed the man started putting bowls of cat food by the back door of his house.  One day the man came out to work in his yard and left the back door to the garage open.  Four of the cats went in and the man closed the door, trapping, in Mabel’s mind, four of her children.  The man sets up a cage-like device with food and, one by one, traps the other cats.  Mabel deliberately goes into the cage but is let out in the garage where she finds all her children.  The man puts out a long piece of clothesline and the cats learn to play with it.  Eventually the man leaves the screen door to the house open and the cats start exploring.  Then he uses the cage with food and traps each of the cats, taking them away in his car.  Mabel thinks he is going to murder them, one by one, but each evening the man returns with a cat, finally trapping Mabel who had previously bitten his hand.  She is taken to a place full of cages with other dogs and cats and when she wakes up her stomach hurts and some hair has been shaved.  The man takes her back to the house and all seven cats are back together.  One day, Fuzzy lets the man pet him and later Mabel realizes that the man is lonely and together they look out the back window at the woods and one night she lets the man pet her and she chases the clothesline the man offers.  She curls up at his feet and purrs, understanding that she is at home.

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